Ontario is the worst offender among Canadian provinces when it comes to the lack of sufficient housing stock, according to a new analysis from Scotiabank Economics.
A report published Wednesday shows that Ontario, Alberta and Manitoba are the only provinces below the national average when it comes to per capita housing stock available. Scotiabank’s analysis relies on data from 2020, the last year with complete information on hand.
To make up the difference, Ontario would need to add 650,000 new dwellings, Alberta would need to build 138,000 units and Manitoba would have to construct 23,000 homes.
But as wide as some of these gaps are, striving towards the mean in Canada is not a high bar.
Canada already ranks lowest among all G7 nations for per capita housing stock, Scotiabank reported last year, needing more than 1.8 million homes to reach the average of its peers on the international stage.
Jean-Francois Perrault, senior vice-president and chief economist at Scotiabank as well as the report’s author, wrote that the delta between Canada and other G7 nations when it comes to housing points to the “collective failure in right-sizing the number of homes relative to our population.”
Need to reconcile immigration with intensification
It’s the growth of Canada’s population that’s become so difficult to manage, Perrault told Global News in an interview on Wednesday, with the pain points coming largely at the municipal level.
While the federal government has stated that it wants more immigration to bolster Canada’s economy, that sweeping directive comes up against obstacles at the city level, such as NIMBYism, zoning challenges and a lack of available labour or materials in the construction industry.
“There’s an economic imperative to have a lot more Canadians, which is fantastic,” he said.
“When it gets down to the nitty-gritty and the people are actually confronted with the day-to-day, what it means to have more Canadians from a real estate perspective, it’s a much, much more challenging situation.”
Ontario’s status as an attractive destination for immigration has made the shortage of available housing particularly stark, Perrault said. On the other end, Newfoundland and Labrador’s housing stock is the highest in Canada on a per capita basis, largely due to a decline in population through the mid-90s.
The ongoing shortage will continue to push up prices, Perrault says.
“If we don’t fix this, if we don’t right-size the number of homes in Canada or Ontario relative to population needs, things are never going to be more affordable.”
Housing market on the rise following record numbers in 2021
Provinces, feds looking for answers
There’s some optimism in the near term that Canada is taking the housing shortfall seriously, but it could be some time before the provinces are on track to fill the gap.
Conservative Party MP and shadow minister of finance Pierre Poilievre on Wednesday moved to study the drivers of inflation in Canada at the federal finance committee, with a particular focus on housing affordability. His motion passed unanimously with a report due by the end of May.
The federal government also has signalled plans for a housing summit to start examining how to fix the problem, though a date for that hasn’t been set.
Ontario also struck a task force on housing affordability late last year with the mandate to increase the supply of units for rental and ownership (Perrault notes in a disclosure the group is chaired by Scotiabank).
Housing starts are meanwhile picking up pace, Perrault says, enough to make a “small dent” in the housing stock gap. But it will take years of accelerated pressure to get the country’s housing market on track to meet the growing demand.
Until the dwellings are actually built, however, Perrault believes there’s little policymakers can do in the short term to make housing more affordable. Adjusting interest rates, for example, will do little to change the reality that home prices will rise as growing immigration levels continue to drive up demand for the stock that’s there, he says.
“In the short run, it’s very difficult to see how affordability is dramatically improved in the next year or two.”
Toronto looks to garden suites to grow housing options
© 2022 Global News, a division of Corus Entertainment Inc.
U.S. charges man with human smuggling after 4 freeze to death near Canada border
U.S. authorities on Thursday charged a man with human smuggling of Indian nationals from Canada, the day after four people including a baby were found frozen to death in a remote part of Canada close to the Minnesota border.
The U.S. attorney’s office in Minnesota said 47-year-old Steve Shand had been arrested just south of the border on Wednesday while driving two undocumented Indian citizens.
U.S. border patrol agents soon came across five more Indians traveling on foot, one of whom was carrying a backpack belonging to a family of four who had become separated from the group as they all tried to cross the border.
They alerted Canadian police who found the victims – a man, a woman, a teenage boy and a baby – about 40 feet (12 meters) from the frontier with Minnesota. First indications are that they died from exposure to the cold.
“These victims faced not only the cold weather, but also endless fields, large snowdrifts and complete darkness,” Royal Canadian Mounted Police Assistant Commissioner Jane MacLatchy told a televised news conference in Winnipeg, Manitoba.
Wind chill had driven down the temperature to minus 35 C (minus 31 F), she said.
The U.S. attorney’s office said in a statement that the four victims had tentatively been identified as the missing Indian family.
The five Indian nationals explained they had walked across the border expecting to be picked up by someone and estimated they had been walking around for over 11 hours.
Shand has been charged with one count of human smuggling. He is next due in court on Jan 24.
(Reporting by Ismail Shakil in Bengaluru and David Ljunggren in Ottawa; Editing by Leslie Adler and David Gregorio)
Canada agency says Russian-backed actors targeting infrastructure
Network operators of critical Canadian infrastructure should boost their defenses against Russian state-sponsored threats, Canada’s signals intelligence agency said on Thursday.
The warning from the Communications Security Establishment (CSE) is the latest in a series of bulletins from Canada’s two main spy agencies accusing Russian actors of trying to hack into sensitive computer systems.
“(CSE) encourages the Canadian cyber-security community —especially critical infrastructure network defenders — to bolster their awareness of and protection against Russian state-sponsored cyber threats,” it said in a statement.
Russian actors and others are targeting critical infrastructure network operators as well as their operational and information technology, it added.
Operators should be prepared to isolate components and services that “would be considered attractive to a hostile threat actor to disrupt” and boost vigilance, CSE said.
Canada has had poor relations with Russia since the annexation of Crimea in 2014.
Ottawa fears armed conflict could break out in Ukraine and is working with allies to make clear to Russia that any further aggression towards Kiev is unacceptable, Prime Minister Justin Trudeau said on Wednesday.
(Reporting by David Ljunggren; Editing by Bernadette Baum)
Canada adds jobs for fifth month in December -ADP
Canada added 19,200 jobs in December, the fifth straight month of gains, led by hiring in the professional and business services and leisure and hospitality sectors, a report from payroll services provider ADP showed on Thursday.
The November data was revised to show 102,100 jobs were created rather than an increase of 231,800. The report, which is derived from ADP’s payrolls data, measures the change in total nonfarm payroll employment each month on a seasonally-adjusted basis.
(Reporting by Fergal Smith; Editing by Raissa Kasolowsky)
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