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Ottawa's vacancy rate went up, but so did average rents in 2019 – Ottawa Citizen



Rental properties in downtown Ottawa. August 8, 2018. Errol McGihon/Postmedia

Errol McGihon / Postmedia

While it might have become a little easier to find a rental in Ottawa in 2019, it also got more expensive to cover the rent, on average.

That’s the big take-away from the Canada Mortgage and Housing Corporation’s 2019 rental market report for the Ontario side of Ottawa-Gatineau, released Wednesday.

While the national vacancy rent for rental apartment units shrank for the third year in a row to 2.2 per cent, the same vacancy rate in Ottawa rose slightly, from 1.6 per cent in 2018 to 1.8 per cent in 2019. It’s the first year since 2015 that the vacancy rate in the capital has eased rather than tightened.


Important to note, however, is that this uptick was driven by an increased bachelor apartment vacancy rate — the movement in vacancy rates for all other bedroom-count units was not statistically significant.

Anne-Marie Shaker, an CMHC analyst, explained that Ottawa was well-past due for new rental apartment construction. “We had an aging purpose-built apartment stock, most of the apartment stock was built in the ’70s and ’80s,” she said. 

With new supply coming online, and rental construction slated to continue, “We do expect … that the vacancy rate will go up slightly,” said Shaker. At the same time, “the demands still remain strong for Ottawa, even though we’re seeing rising supply.”

CMHC cites steady net migration to Ottawa as a factor pushing this demand — newcomers tend to rent for their first few years in Canada. So too is “strong employment growth” among the students and young professionals who make up much of the rental market.

Local and international students at Ottawa’s universities and colleges are also “a key force for rental demand” in the city, according to CMHC.

As the appetite for rentals accommodations remains strong, don’t expect bargain basement rents. In 2019 the average rents in Ottawa for bachelor and one-bedroom apartments were $933 and $1,178, respectively, and rose 6.8 and 8.1 per cent between 2018 and 2019. 

The capital saw higher rent growth than the country as a whole. While the average rent for a two-bedroom apartment in Ottawa was $1,410 in 2019, and up eight per cent from the year before, the same measure only rose 3.9 per cent nationwide over the same period and the average two-bedroom rent in Canada was $1,077 in 2019.

In addition to healthy demand, Shaker includes new rental construction and low tenant turnover among the reasons for Ottawa’s higher-than-average growth in rents.

“Stricter mortgage rules, low resale supply and rising MLS average prices may have pushed down turnover rates as households chose to continue to rent over transitioning into home ownership,” the CMHC report notes.

Relative to Canada’s largest cities, Ottawa is still pretty affordable.

Compared with $1,410 in the capital, the average rent for two-bedroom apartment in Toronto was $1,562 in 2019. In Vancouver it was $1,748.

But in Calgary and Edmonton, the average was $1,305 and $1,257, respectively.

Quebec, as usual, is in a league of its own. In Montreal, the two-bedroom average was $855 while in Gatineau, it was $874.

Among Ottawa neighbourhoods, the vacancy rate was highest and went up the most in Sandy Hill/Lowertown between 2018 and 2019, rising to 2.7 per cent. The runner-up was downtown, where the vacancy rate rose to 2.6 per cent. Chinatown/Hintonburg wasn’t far behind, with a 2.3 per cent vacancy rate.

Most of the new rental supply in 2019 was in Chinatown/Hintonburg and Sandy Hill/Lowertown, “explaining the upward pressure on the vacancy rate in those zones,” CHMC concludes.

Downtown, the buoyant vacancy rate was thanks in large part to expensive two-bedroom units. The average asking rent across vacant two-bedrooms was 17 per cent higher downtown than the city’s average and at $1,798 was the highest in urban Ottawa — likely leading to a higher vacancy rate for this particular unit type.

A similar phenomenon was seen in west Ottawa, including Kanata, where the average asking rents on vacant two-bedrooms were 62 per cent higher than Ottawa’s average, “likely contributing to an increase in the vacancy rate,” according to CMHC.


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Maritime gas prices – CTV News Atlantic



For the most part, drivers in the Maritimes are paying slightly less for gas Friday, but the cost of diesel is up.


In mainland Nova Scotia, gas is down three cents to a minimum price of 152.9 cents per litre.

In Cape Breton, motorists are now paying a minimum price of 154.8 cents per litre for regular self-serve gasoline.


Diesel increased 2.5 cents, the minimum price is now 137.7 cents per litre.

The minimum price for diesel in Cape Breton is now 139.6 cents per litre.


On Prince Edward Island, gas increased 1.1. cents, the minimum price is now 165.6 cents per litre.

Diesel on the island increased 1.5 cents, the minimum price is now 157.5 cents.


Meanwhile, in New Brunswick, gas is down 2.4 cents, the maximum price is now 164.6 cents per litre.

Diesel is up slightly to 0.6 cents, the maximum price is now 158.6 cents a litre. 

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NL Unemployment Rate Slightly Rises – VOCM



Statistics Canada says the unemployment rate rose to 5.2 per cent in May, marking the first increase since August 2022.

The rate for Newfoundland and Labrador rose slightly to 10.2 per cent from 10.1. In metro, the jobless rate in May hit 5 per cent, a slight increase from the 4.9 recorded in April.

The job report comes two days after the Bank of Canada raised its key interest rate by a quarter of a percentage point, citing concerns about a string of hot economic data, including low unemployment.


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May jobs numbers not enough to change Bank of Canada’s course: Experts



Canada’s labour market showed minor signs of softening in May, but economists and other experts said the Bank of Canada likely wouldn’t read the numbers as a sign that its rate-tightening campaign aimed at bringing down inflation is working.

Unemployment rose to 5.2 per cent from five per cent, the first increase since last August, according to the Statistics Canada Labour Force Survey for May.

The numbers released Friday said the economy lost 17,000, though employment overall was little changed.

Randall Bartlett, senior director of Canadian economics at Desjardins, cautioned that job losses were concentrated among the youngest workers in Canada as they enter the summer jobs season, and “not necessarily characteristic of what we’re seeing in the underlying labour market.” He said the job losses can’t yet be seen as a “trend.”


“We need to see how this shakes out in the months ahead, and then we’ll decide what it means for monetary policy,” Bartlett told BNN Bloomberg in a television interview.

Dominique Lapointe with Manulife Investment Management noted “small loss” mostly among the younger age group of workers should be interpreted with caution, as seasonal adjustments can be challenging for that demographic. He also pointed out that employment rose among core-aged workers.


The jobs numbers came days after the Bank of Canada resumed its interest rate tightening cycle, hiking its key rate by a quarter of a percentage point to 4.75 per cent after a string of unexpectedly hot economic data.

Lapointe said he is expecting another rate hike next month based on recent inflation and GDP readings. He said the jobs numbers aren’t significant enough to change the central bank’s path.

“I don’t think this morning’s (Labour Force Report) report would change what’s going to happen in July. We’d probably need to see way more weakness in other economic indicators before the next meeting for them to change their course,” he said.

Jay Zhao-Murray, FX Analyst at Monex Canada, noted that the data that went against economists’ expectations for job gains in May, but agreed that the numbers wouldn’t shift the central bank’s thinking.

“With employment cooling on the whole, this latest report does weaken the case for further hikes from the Bank of Canada, but given the details and composition of employment changes, we do not think it would materially change the Bank’s latest view on the economy,” he said in a written statement.

He said he is expecting another 25-basis-point rate hike from the Bank of Canada in July, “unless the subsequent data also confirm the negative signal from today’s report.”

Economist Tuan Nguyen of RSM Canada, meanwhile, said “there are reasons to believe that May’s decline in net jobs is not a fluke,” given that most of the job losses were in business, professional services, and trades.

Taken with an uptick in the unemployment rate, he pointed to signs that “a long-awaited softening of the labor market has finally arrived.”

“Following Friday’s job data, the Bank of Canada’s decision to hike the rate to 4.75 per cent … might be the last one in this cycle. Nevertheless, we continue to believe that rates should remain at that level at least until the end of the year to ensure substantial easing of inflation,” Nguyen said in a written statement.


Wages, which the Bank of Canada has zeroed in on as a particular concern in its inflation fight, rose 5.1 per cent year-over-year in May.

Bartlett made the case that wage growth in Canada is more “subdued” than it might appear.

He noted that StatsCan’s monthly wage reading is one of several wage indicators that the Bank of Canada looks at, and others appear to be decelerating more quickly, meaning that “wages are not the concern we had anticipated” when it comes to the possibility of a “wage-price spiral” some economists fear could push inflation higher.

Regardless, Bartlett said he expects the Bank of Canada will interpret the labour force reading as a sign that Canada’s labour market remains “very tight.”

“It needs to see the unemployment rate move meaningfully higher (and) the job vacancy rate move meaningfully lower in order to be able to see wage growth come down to a level that’s consistent with two per cent inflation,” he said.


As for the sectors where people lost jobs in May, Bartlett said the data holds clues that Canadians are still spending money despite the high-interest rate environment.

“It’s not necessarily in sectors where you would think tight monetary policy and higher interest rates would be leading to job losses,” Bartlett said.

Accommodation, food services, arts and recreation were not hit particularly hard with losses, but those are areas where people generally cut back on spending in tough economic times, Bartlett said.

“We may see the consumer continue to be relatively healthy in the second quarter, and it may be maybe pointing to that still,” he said.


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