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Canadian home sales, prices hit new highs for January compared to last year – CBC.ca

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Canadians didn’t let COVID-19 or a lack of housing supply stop them from flocking to the real estate market in January as they snatched up a record number of homes and shelled out more than they had in previous years. 

Sales for the month were up 35.2 per cent compared with a year earlier — and sales for the first month of the year were up two per cent when compared to December, the Canadian Real Estate Association said Tuesday.

The actual national average price of a home sold also soared to a record $621,525 in January, up 22.8 per cent from the same month last year.

CREA said market conditions were pushed to record levels in January because people have held off putting their homes up for sale in the middle of the pandemic, leaving fewer options for people to fight over.

“The buyers and sellers that will in time define the Canadian housing story of 2021 are mostly all still waiting in the wings,” Shaun Cathcart, CREA’s senior economist, said in a statement.

Single family home prices rose 2.6 per cent month-over-month and a robust 17.4 per cent year-over-year, whereas apartment prices advanced by a smaller 0.2 per cent month-over-month and decreased 3.3 per cent year-over-year, TD Economics said in a statement after CREA released its report.

Buyers need boost in supply

However, Cathcart believes the market is unlikely to see a rush of listings until the public heath situation improves and the dreary winter weather subsides.

“The best case scenario would be if we see a lot of sellers who were gun-shy to engage in the market last year making a move this year,” he said.

(Canadian Real Estate Association)

“A big surge in supply is what so many markets really need this year to get people into the homes they want, and to keep prices from accelerating any more than they already are.”

With sales edging higher and new supply falling considerably in January, the national sales-to-new listings ratio tightened to 90.7 per cent — the highest level on record for the measure by a significant margin.

The previous monthly record was 81.5 per cent, set 19 years ago. The long-term average for the national sales-to-new listings ratio is 54.3 per cent.

Vancouver, Toronto markets still hot

CREA found the Greater Vancouver and the Greater Toronto Area, two of the country’s most active and expensive markets, were heating up very quickly in January.

The average seasonally adjusted price of a home in the GTA was $941,100 and in Vancouver, was just over $1 million.

When the association removed data from both those regions from the $621,525 national price average, it found the average price was slashed by $129,000.

But that doesn’t mean that conditions eased up outside the city centres, said Wins Lai, a Toronto real estate broker.

Cities outside Toronto also in demand

Prices in areas like Vaughan and Markham, Ont., have reached levels she is shocked by.

“Outside of the city in somewhere like Barrie, we are seeing 40 offers on something that’s $750,000, which is insane,” she said.

CREA said year-over-year price increases between 25 and 30 per cent were seen many regions in Ontario including Barrie, Niagara, Grey-Bruce Owen Sound, Huron Perth, Kawartha Lakes, London and St. Thomas, North Bay, Simcoe and Southern Georgian Bay.

According to the Canadian Real Estate Association, Montreal’s average home prices reached $434,200, up 16.6 per cent compared to last January. (Graham Hughes/The Canadian Press)

However, the largest year-over-year gains — above 30 per cent — were recorded in the Lakelands region of Ontario cottage country, Northumberland Hills, Quinte, Tillsonburg District and Woodstock-Ingersoll.

Urban sprawl and the pandemic are responsible for part of this phenomenon, Lai said.

“People want to be outside of the city, they want to have their own homes and they don’t want to be in elevators,” she said.

Other cities still attractive

While the downtown core may be less attractive because many people are working from home, young professionals and couples are still trying to snatch up homes there and bidding wars on condos are plentiful.

The CREA said January price gains were in the 10 to 15 per cent range in the GTA, Mississauga, Chilliwack, B.C., the Okanagan Valley in B.C., Winnipeg and on Vancouver Island.

Montreal’s average prices reached $434,200, up 16.6 per cent compared to last January.

They rose by as much as 10 per cent in Victoria, Greater Vancouver, Regina and Saskatoon and by about two per cent in Calgary and Edmonton.

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AstraZeneca approval will speed up Manitoba vaccine rollout, task force head says – CBC.ca

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The approval of the AstraZeneca vaccine will speed up Manitoba’s timeline for vaccinating all eligible age groups, but how much of an impact it has remains to be seen, says the head of the provincial government’s vaccine implementation task force.

“This is great news for our timeline and really does push us closer to our high-supply scenario” for future vaccination rollout, Dr. Joss Reimer said during a media briefing Friday.

Health Canada announced earlier Friday it had approved the vaccine developed by Oxford University-AstraZeneca, clearing the way for millions more doses of vaccine to come into the country.

Manitoba is basing its vaccine eligibility for members of the general public on age, starting with the oldest Manitobans and gradually working down.

The vaccine task force has released two separate timelines for when it expects to immunize each age group, under low- and high-supply scenarios. 

Under the low-supply scenario — which assumed using only the previously approved Pfizer-BioNTech and Moderna vaccines — the province estimated it would complete vaccinations by the end of November.

Under the high-supply scenario, which assumed a third vaccine would become available, the province could complete vaccinations by the end of August. 

WATCH | Dr. Joss Reimer says Health Canada approval of AstraZeneca is ‘great news’:

Dr. Joss Reimer, head of Manitoba’s vaccine implementation task force, said Friday the approval of AstraZeneca adds another tool in the province’s toolbelt to help roll out vaccines quickly. 1:14

Easier storage, lower efficacy rate

AstraZeneca’s vaccine doesn’t have to be stored at the exceptionally low temperatures required for Pfizer-BioNTech’s and Moderna’s vaccines.

The AstraZeneca vaccine can be stored and transported at normal refrigerated temperatures of 2 to 8 C for at least six months, which means it can be administered in a wider range of settings, such as physicians’ offices and pharmacies.

Health Canada regulators have determined the new vaccine to be 62 per cent effective at preventing infection, which is less effective than the Pfizer-BioNTech and Moderna vaccines.

However, the shot is 100 per cent effective in preventing the severe outcomes of COVID-19 — including serious illness, hospitalizations and death — the regulators said.

“I think that’s the most important factor, is it kept people out of the ICU, and it kept people off of ventilators,” said virologist Jason Kindrachuk, an assistant professor in the department of medical microbiology at the University of Manitoba.

The availability of multiple vaccines raises the possibility people might be reluctant to take one if they know it has a lower efficacy rating, which poses challenges for public health messaging, he said.

“The most important factor right now for us [is] it’s keeping people out of the hospital, and as well trying to curb transmission. The AZ vaccine actually looks really good in both of those regards.”

Dose numbers still unknown

It’s too soon to know how much the AstraZeneca approval will alter Manitoba’s vaccination timeline, because no one knows yet how many doses the province will actually get.

“This is only good news as far as how long it will take to reach all Manitobans,” Reimer said.

“The more options we have and the more convenient it is for people to receive a vaccine, the more Manitobans will be able to receive it before the end of summer.”

The province is in the process of determining who will be eligible to receive the AstraZeneca vaccine. Health officials are waiting for the National Advisory Committee on Immunizations to release its recommendations.

Some countries in Europe have limited use of the vaccine to people under the age of 65, even though the World Health Organization says the product is effective for all age groups.

Health Canada said clinical trial results “were too limited to allow a reliable estimate of vaccine efficacy in individuals 65 years of age and older,” but was comfortable approving the vaccine due to experience in places its already been used.

WATCH | Health Canada’s Dr. Supriya Sharma outlines efficacy of AstraZeneca vaccine:

Dr. Supriya Sharma, Health Canada’s chief medical adviser, outlines why the AstraZeneca COVID-19 vaccine has been approved in Canada. 3:10

“If it ends up being that we stick to a younger age cohort [for AstraZeneca in Manitoba], then we’ll have to make some decisions about who is highest risk in the younger age cohort,” Reimer said.

Like the Pfizer-BioNTech and Moderna vaccines, AstraZeneca’s requires two shots. Health Canada has recommended the second dose be administered four to 12 weeks after the first.

Reimer said Manitoba will look at the results of the trials and decide whether to continue with the current process of administering second doses within three to four weeks, or stretching that time period in order to get more first doses to Manitobans. 

Around 500 physicians and pharmacies have applied to administer vaccines once a suitable candidate becomes available, and about 250 of those are approved and ready to go, Reimer said.

Doctors Manitoba issued a statement welcoming the approval of the new vaccine.

“This approval means Manitobans are one step closer to getting the vaccine from their doctor, a trusted medical professional who knows their health situation best,” president Dr. Cory Baillie said in the statement.

It’s possible that AstraZeneca could be considered as part of a door-to-door vaccination campaign, to reach people who are unable to leave their home, but who don’t live in a personal care home or other facility targeted by mobile immunization teams, she said.

WATCH | Full news conference on COVID-19 | Feb. 26, 2021:

Provincial officials give update on COVID-19 outbreak: Friday, February 26, 2021. 29:34

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Global National: Feb. 26, 2021 | Health Canada approves Oxford-AstraZeneca's COVID-19 vaccine – Global News

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Global National: Feb. 26, 2021 | Health Canada approves Oxford-AstraZeneca’s COVID-19 vaccine  Global News



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John Graham, the new CPPIB CEO, already had successful career as a research scientist before joining pension fund – The Globe and Mail

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John Graham started his career after earning a doctorate in chemistry at Western University in 1999.

CNW/Canada Pension Plan Investment B

John Graham, the money manager who is suddenly responsible for at least some of your retirement savings, is something of an accidental chief executive.

The newly named CEO at the Canada Pension Plan Investment Board – at $476-billion, one of the world’s largest funds – was only handed the top job on Friday after predecessor Mark Machin was forced to resign after receiving the COVID-19 vaccination while traveling in the United Arab Emirates.

And the 49-year-old Mr. Graham only entered the world of finance after a successful first career in science, as a chemist in the Xerox labs where everything from touchscreen technology to the computer mouse were invented.

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Mr. Graham started his career after earning a doctorate in chemistry at Western University in 1999. The Ottawa native then spent nine years at Xerox doing research focused on photovoltaics, the technology of solar cells. In his time at Xerox, Mr. Graham’s work was the basis for 36 U.S. patents, which must be some sort of record for a Bay Street executive.

Head of Canada’s largest pension fund received COVID-19 vaccine in United Arab Emirates

CPPIB chief executive Mark Machin steps down in the wake of COVID-19 vaccination controversy

‘Corporate world is shifting’: Machin’s swift departure from CPPIB underscores public intolerance for bad behaviour in the C-suite

While working at Xerox, Mr. Graham went back to school part-time, earning an MBA from the University of Toronto’s Rotman School of Management. CPPIB recruited him away from the labs in 2008, offering a data-crunching job doing portfolio design. Colleagues say he climbed in the ranks by leading forays into new fields, such as reinsurance and private debt markets.

Former CPPIB chief financial officer Benita Warmbold, who worked with Mr. Graham for nine years prior to retiring in 2017, said the new CEO showed “a consistent knack for building the business.” In 2015, CPPIB paid US$12-billion to buy Chicago-based lender Antares Capital from General Electric, one of the fund manager’s largest foreign forays. Mr. Graham was one of the executives charged with overseeing the investment, as an Antares board member.

“Colleagues at all levels enjoyed working with John, including me,” said Ms. Warmbold. “His humility certainly fits the purpose of CPPIB.” One of Mr. Graham’s first leadership roles was running a 35-person credit investment group. Today, that team has 125 employees, and 42 per cent of the work force is female, a sign of a commitment to inclusion that colleagues say is critical to advancing in a public-sector fund.

In 2018, Mr. Graham took global responsibility for all of CPPIB’s credit-based investments, running a $57-billion portfolio and taking a seat with the 14 senior executives who run the fund manager. In a press release on Friday, CPPIB chair Heather Munroe-Blum said: ”By consistently demonstrating deep knowledge of our operations, embracing a global mindset during his time in Asia, while delivering value as a founder and leader of a key investment department, John earned the Board’s unequivocal confidence.”

The new role will mean a significant raise for Mr. Graham, who is married and has two teenaged children. His predecessor earned $5.9-million last year, while the incoming CEO didn’t crack the fund manager’s list of its five highest paid executives.

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