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Don't bundle, carry cash: Rogers outage a wakeup call for consumers and government – Vancouver Sun

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Consumers should reassess their technology service “bundles” for cost versus risk in the same way they balance their investment portfolio, according to tech expert Andy Baryer.

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A local tech industry observer joined consumers and others calling for federal policy changes after Friday’s Rogers Communications network outage disrupted every aspect of life, but especially access to emergency services, for millions of users.

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“People need to be able to grab their phone and call 911. Now that we’re moving toward a 5G network, there is an opportunity for the government to really push and tell the networks, ‘we need to co-operate,’ and create a stable, secure option,” said Andy Baryer, technology and digital lifestyle expert at HandyAndyMedia.com.

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The disruption in internet access, cellphone and landline phone connections meant some callers couldn’t reach emergency services via 911 calls, police across Canada said.

Rogers, BCE Inc and Telus Corp control 90 per cent of the market share in Canada.

Andy Baryer is a freelance technology journalist, on-air presenter and content creator from Vancouver, Canada. Previously, he was a TV/Radio Producer and Host for GetConnected Media, Canada’s longest-running technology show.
Andy Baryer is a freelance technology journalist, on-air presenter and content creator from Vancouver, Canada. Previously, he was a TV/Radio Producer and Host for GetConnected Media, Canada’s longest-running technology show. Photo by Andy Baryer /jpg

They could be forced to meet certain stipulations in order to qualify for licenses to operate next generation 5G wireless services, suggested Baryer. Companies could be mandated to immediately share access to emergency services when one network is disrupted.

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Instead, they currently see the Rogers outage as an opportunity to gain new customers, said Baryer.

The situation, which started at about 7:30 a.m. PDT Friday lasted through Saturday, interrupted banking, transport and government access for about a third of mobile users in Canada who rely on the Rogers network, and hit cashless payments systems and Air Canada’s call centre.

“Millions of Canadians couldn’t call 911 yesterday. Hospitals couldn’t call in staff. There was no way to call families so that they could say goodbye to their loved ones at end of life,” tweeted Amit Arya, director-at-large at the Canadian Society of Palliative Care Physicians.

Rogers, which blamed a router malfunction after maintenance, said on Saturday it would credit affected customers and invest more in its network and technology. It did not comment on whether the outage could impact its chances of getting antitrust approval for a $20 billion takeover of Shaw Communications. Canada’s competition bureau blocked the deal earlier this year, saying it would hamper competition in a country where telecom rates are some of the world’s highest.

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University of Ottawa professor Michael Geist, who focuses on the internet and ecommerce law, said the outage “must be a wake-up for a government that has been asleep on digital policy.”

He wrote on his blog that the blame for the outage may lie with Rogers, but the government and Canadian telecommunications regulator should be held accountable for a failure to respond.

Baryer said consumers should reassess their technology service “bundles” for cost versus risk in the same way they balance their investment portfolio.

“Try to diversify your services so you can stay online or connected. I guess the biggest tip would be to keep your Wi-Fi and your home internet and your cellphone on different plans. Unfortunately, a lot of people are on the same (network). They were the ones who had to go to the coffee shop to be able to keep working,” he said.

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Baryer said he uses one of the smaller internet service providers to “stick it to the Big Three companies” and avoid using them. These more entrepreneurial players exist to prevent a complete monopoly of the market, but sell the same infrastructure and services the large companies do.

Aside from carrying some cash, Baryer said consumers should build back habits in case networks are disrupted again. For example, he has now put a lockbox outside his home with a physical, backup key because he has a Smart Lock that relies on Wi-Fi to function.

jlee-young@postmedia.com

— With files from Reuters


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Canadian Inflation Cools But Hot Core Keeps Up Rate Pressure – Bloomberg

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[unable to retrieve full-text content]

  1. Canadian Inflation Cools But Hot Core Keeps Up Rate Pressure  Bloomberg
  2. Canada’s inflation rate falls to 7.6 per cent  CBC News
  3. Inflation in Canada slows in July, rising 7.6 per cent from last year  Yahoo Canada Finance
  4. EDITORIAL: Inflation still hurting Canadians  Toronto Sun
  5. CityBiz: Latest report on inflation in Canada, home sales slide again  CityNews
  6. View Full coverage on Google News



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Where to look for cheap rent in Canada, as prices soar, again – CBC.ca

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As rent prices spiked over the past two months, affordable pockets of rental housing became harder and harder to find.

In July, the average monthly cost for rental properties across Canada was $1,934 — up 10.4 per cent over last year, according to the data of the property listing company Rentals.ca. A similar hike in June saw the average rent spike 9.5 per cent.

Analysts say the steep prices are being driven by more demand than inventory.

And that demand is being driven in part by some people fleeing larger cities, while others flock to them.

This creates a challenge for people like Joan Alexander.

The senior has rented homes across Canada, in St. Catharines, Ont., and Guelph, Ont., then in Castlegar, B.C., and for the past two years on Prince Edward Island.

Joan Alexander, left, sits with her dog Beau and her partner, Elizabeth Huether. They plan to move from P.E.I. to Lloydminster, Alta./Sask., this October. (Submitted by Joan Alexander )

Alexander and her partner chose Summerside, a city about 50 kilometres northwest of Charlottetown, for its small-town feel.

But rising rental costs and other considerations — like proximity to health care — are driving her to relocate.

“We really hoped that P.E.I. would be our last stop on our life journey,” she said. 

Last year, rents on P.E.I. rose higher than they had in a decade. Plus rental places are scarce.

Finding affordable rental housing in Canada after a pandemic is proving a challenge for many, with spiking interest rates, inflation and limited rental stock. 

Ben Myers, president of Bullpen Research and Consulting, a real estate advisory firm that tracks rental pricing in Canada, says if you are looking for a deal there still are some places he’d describe as comparatively “cheap.”

This two-bedroom in Lloydminster, Sask., offers a 1,000 square foot corner unit in a quiet building for $1,250 per month. (Aspen Grove/Kijiji)

He suggests looking at Red Deer or Lethbridge in Alberta, or Saskatoon.

“You can get a two-bedroom for under $1,150 a month. It’s all about where you can work,” said Myers. 

Alexander says she was able to find a few havens on the Prairies.

“It felt almost too good to be true. There seemed to be a few pockets where we could find what we were looking for. Pet friendly, affordable, safe housing,” said Alexander, who needs monitoring after donating a kidney and a place that welcomes her small, beloved dog — Beau.

Lloydminster — a city that spans Alberta and Saskatchewan — attracted Alexander and her spouse with affordable prices and a pet-friendly property owner.

They move in October to their new $1,200-per-month home.

WATCH | Priced out by rising rents:

Soaring prices leaving some renters priced out

1 day ago

Duration 2:03

While the housing market may be cooling down, the rental market is on fire, with the price of an average unit up 10 per cent compared to last year. That has left many renters scrambling to find suitable housing.

Rentals.ca listings include detached and semi-detached homes, townhouses, condominium apartments, rental apartments and basement apartments. The company can’t provide an average rent for all cities. Some smaller communities don’t have enough rentals to get an accurate average.

So it’s worth hunting. There are some hidden gems.

Myers says that in a normal year, rent can fluctuate on average three to five per cent. But average rents grew 10 to 12 per cent in 2019, due to a shortage of supply, he says. Then the pandemic hit and rent declined, on average, 15 to 20 per cent.

“We are now adjusting back to pre-pandemic levels,” said Myers.

Renters on the move

Then there are the super-expensive anomalies — like Vancouver, which rebounded even faster from the pandemic, with a per month average rent of $2,300 in June 2022. 

Myers says there have also been significant shifts to cities that used to enjoy low rent, as some people migrate to smaller places where they can get more real estate for their dollar.

Retiring Baby Boomers from the Toronto area are creating demand and raising prices in places like the Niagara Region and Halifax, for example. 

“Halifax has gone kind of nuclear. Definitely a lot of Ontarians moved to Halifax during the pandemic,” Myers said.

Also, he says a lot of students stayed in their university towns like Victoria, London, Ont., and Kingston, Ont., when offices closed during the past two years.

“All the benefits of living in a big city were almost bad because you didn’t want to be around a lot of people during a pandemic,” said Myers. 

Vanishing affordable rentals

But all this change has just put more pressure on the rental market that’s been seeing declines in rental options for low earners for more than a decade, according to housing policy researcher Steve Pomeroy.

He uses Canada Mortgage and Housing Corporation (CMHC) data to probe losses in the rental market.

Pomeroy, the senior research fellow for the Centre of Urban Research at Carleton University, estimates that between 2011 and 2016, the number of rental units that would be affordable for households earning less than $30,000 per year — with rents below $750 — declined by 322,600 in Canada.

That has an effect on the one in three Canadians who rent, according to 2016 census data.

Pomeroy says historically Quebec offered the largest rental stock available in the country.

“Quebec has always been culturally very different. Rent is much more culturally accepted. It’s a bit about European influence … You get these very scenic estates of two-, three-storey homes with the wrought iron staircase and with three units, and two are rented. So by definition, two-thirds of your population are renters,” he said.

He says perhaps it’s time for the remainder of Canada to consider a more European model, where renting is more accepted. 

He says there are many cities, in France and Germany for example, where renters almost match owners in population.

North America historically has had a different culture, where owning is seen as better.

“Traditionally there has been very strong support for home ownership. Here in Canada we’ve had mortgage insurance including increasing access to credit for buyers … the political system has very much reinforced that belief system, that ownership is the right thing to do.”

In Red Deer, Alta., this two-bedroom townhome rents for $1,220 per month if you opt for the smaller one with no den. It even comes with energized parking stalls. (Sunreal Property Management Ltd./Rentfaster.ca)

But now, tenancy and anti-poverty organizations are lobbying for more renters’ rights. That’s something Pomeroy sees as a positive shift.

He also says he believes many younger Canadians see renting as their future. It gives them the freedom to pursue experiences, move for jobs and not remain tethered to a property that they can’t afford.

Pomeroy recently asked his graduate students — all employed and in their 20s — if they thought they could buy a home in the next five years. Would you want to?

He says he was surprised to hear for the first time, none of them believed they could.

“Nobody thought they could, and only about half actually wanted to.”

The average monthly cost for rental properties across Canada in July was $1,934 — up 10.4 per cent over last year — making it harder still for renters to find affordable housing. (David Horemans/CBC)

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WTI Stops Slide As API Figures Show Major Gasoline Draw – OilPrice.com

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WTI Crude Falls To Lowest Level Since January | OilPrice.com


Julianne Geiger

Julianne Geiger

Julianne Geiger is a veteran editor, writer and researcher for Oilprice.com, and a member of the Creative Professionals Networking Group.

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Crude oil prices fell further on Tuesday, with WTI falling to its lowest benchmark price since January this year.

Crude oil prices began their fall on Monday, dragged down by China’s disappointing economic data that led to China’s central bank cutting lending rates.

WTI prices fell to $86.13 per barrel by 2:24 pm ET, down $3.28, or 3.67% on the day. Brent crude fell $2.98 (-3.13%) on the day to $92.12 per barrel—the lowest price since February this year.

Gasoline prices in the United States have been falling for months now led by falling crude oil prices. Today’s gasoline prices in the United States average $3.949 per gallon, according to AAA data, down from $3.956 yesterday. Over the last month, U.S. gasoline prices have fallen 60 cents. They are still 76 cents above where they were this time last year.

The weight of disappointing data out of China—the world’s second-largest oil consumer and largest oil importer—was compounded on Tuesday by developments surrounding the Iran nuclear deal. Just moments before the deadline, Iran sent its written response to the EU regarding the “final” nuclear deal text. In its letter, Iran suggested that it was closer than it had ever been to securing a deal, although there were a few sticking points—mainly that the U.S. guaranteed the deal couldn’t be changed by future U.S. Presidents.

Despite the current crude oil fundamentals that suggest the market is still tight, the market fear is that Iran could unleash on the market hundreds of thousands of barrels of crude oil per day if sanctions were to be lifted. Iran has said that it could ramp up production and exports within months.

By Julianne Geiger for Oilprice.com

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