In her 40 years in Halifax real estate, agent Sandra Bryant has never seen as many buyers flocking to town shopping for homes as she did in 2020.
“It was my best year ever,” Bryant told CTVNews.ca on Tuesday.
The surging demand has sparked bidding wars in a city where low prices and glacial growth were once the norm. Now Bryant says she’s seeing a record-breaking number of sales, particularly among young out-of-towners from Toronto seeking a different pace of life in picturesque Atlantic Canada.
“I’ve been waiting for this for a long time,” Bryant said. “I always knew it was an incredible place to be.”
Halifax saw its population grow by two per cent last year, making it the second-fastest growing community in Canada, according to a new report from Statistics Canada. Kitchener-Cambridge-Waterloo in Ontario tied Halifax with two per cent growth. The only city to grow faster was Oshawa, Ont., a suburban community on the outskirts of Toronto that grew by 2.1 per cent.
At the same time, Toronto and Montreal saw a record-breaking loss of people between July 2019 and July 2020. Statistics Canada said this decisive shift away from cities will be “an important trend to monitor.”
“Personal health, the ability to work remotely, and higher housing costs are among the most important factors contributing to the decision of many Canadians to continue (or to no longer continue) living in large urban centres hardest hit by the pandemic,” wrote the report’s authors.
The report offers a snapshot of what real estate agents have been seeing on the ground for months: young couples once priced out of cities now have the freedom to look for properties elsewhere, thanks to the shift to working from home. Low interest rates have made buying a home even easier.
Lauren Haw, CEO of Zoocasa, a real estate agency that offers market analysis, said the desire for more square footage is tempting urbanites to consider smaller communities where their money goes further.
“People who said, ‘I’m gonna buy this $600,000 one-bedroom condo in downtown Toronto,’ are now saying, ‘I can work from home in Barrie, Ancaster, Guelph or London.’ And people in London are doing the same and moving to Strathroy and Woodstock,” Haw said in an earlier interview.
In Oshawa, which leads the country in population growth, agents have seen stunning competition. In one recent case, a townhouse listed for $550,000 received 39 offers, according to broker Paul Baird.
“This time last year, maybe you’d get a couple offers because the market was starting to heat up. Two years ago in 2019, you’d be lucky to get an offer in the first week on the market. It just took a lot longer to sell a house. And then, all of a sudden, the demand just surged,” he said.
The reason for these bidding wars is simple: “There’s just too much demand and not enough supply,” Baird said.
The closest precedent to today’s demand, Baird said, was in 2017 when investors began competing for properties in Oshawa, sometimes buying up multiple properties at once. These days, the typical profile of buyers is much different.
“I think a lot of the people we see now are just trying to buy their first house,” he said.
According to Statistics Canada, the communities with the highest population growth rates are:
- Oshawa (2.1 per cent)
- Halifax (2 per cent)
- Kitchener-Waterloo-Cambridge (2 per cent)
- Kelowna (1.9 per cent)
- Calgary (1.9 per cent)
- Saskatoon (1.9 per cent)
- Moncton (1.8 per cent)
- Edmonton (1.8 per cent)
- Barrie (1.8 per cent)
- Belleville (1.6 per cent)
- Ottawa-Gatineau (1.6 per cent)
- London (1.6 per cent)
- Lethbridge (1.5 per cent)
- Trois-Rivières (1.5 per cent)
- Guelph (1.5 per cent)
- Sherbrooke (1.5 per cent)
Coronavirus: What's happening in Canada and around the world on Saturday – CBC.ca
After a year of struggling to boost coronavirus testing, communities across the United States are seeing plummeting demand, leading to shuttered testing sites or even attempts to return supplies.
The drop in screening comes at a significant moment in the outbreak: Experts are cautiously optimistic that COVID-19 is receding after killing more than 510,000 people in the U.S., but they are concerned that emerging variants could prolong the epidemic.
U.S. testing hit a peak on Jan. 15, when the country was averaging more than two million tests per day. Since then, the average number of daily tests has fallen more than 28 per cent. The drop mirrors declines across all major virus measures since January, including new cases, hospitalizations and deaths.
Officials say those encouraging trends — together with harsh winter weather, the end of the holiday travel season, pandemic fatigue and a growing focus on vaccination — are sapping interest in testing.
“When you combine all those together, you see this decrease,” said Dr. Richard Pescatore of the health department in Delaware, where daily testing has fallen more than 40 per cent since the January peak. “People just aren’t going to go out to testing sites.”
U.S. President Joe Biden has promised to revamp the country’s testing system by investing billions more in supplies and government co-ordination. But with demand falling fast, the country may soon have a glut of unused supplies. The U.S. will be able to conduct nearly one billion monthly tests by June, according to projections from researchers at Arizona State University. That’s more than 25 times the country’s current rate of about 40 million tests reported per month.
With more than 150 million new vaccine doses due for delivery by late March, testing is likely to fall further as local governments shift staff and resources to giving shots.
“You have to pick your battles here,” said Dr. Jeffrey Engel of the Council of State and Territorial Epidemiologists. “Everyone would agree that if you have one public health nurse, you’re going to use that person for vaccination, not testing.”
What’s happening across Canada
As of 11:15 p.m. ET on Saturday, Canada had reported 863,522 cases of COVID-19, with 30,786 cases considered active. A CBC News tally of deaths stood at 21,944.
Canada’s top doctor said that nationally, there are 964 reported cases of the coronavirus variant first detected in the U.K., up from 429 reported two weeks ago. There were also 44 cases of the variant first discovered in South Africa and two cases of the version first found in Brazil.
“The risk of rapid re-acceleration remains,” Dr. Theresa Tam said on Friday. “At the same time, new variants continue to emerge … and can become predominant.”
On Friday, Health Canada regulators approved the COVID-19 vaccine from Oxford University-AstraZeneca for use in Canada — clearing the way for millions more inoculations in the months ahead.
British Columbia recorded 589 new cases of COVID-19 and seven more deaths on Friday.
Alberta announced 356 new cases and three more deaths. Meanwhile, health officials confirmed two more deaths linked to an outbreak at the Olymel meatpacking plant in Red Deer, bringing the total to three.
Saskatchewan registered 153 new cases but no new deaths.
Manitoba confirmed 64 new cases and one death. The province’s test positivity rate is now at 3.9 per cent, its lowest point in more than four months.
WATCH | Manitoba government considers relaxing COVID-19 rules:
Ontario reported 1,185 new cases of COVID-19 on Saturday, as well as 16 new deaths.
The province also announced Friday it is activating an “emergency brake” in Thunder Bay and Simcoe-Muskoka, sending the regions back into lockdown to “immediately interrupt transmission and contain community spread.”
The two regions will move into the grey lockdown level of Ontario’s COVID-19 restriction plan effective 12:01 a.m. ET on Monday, March 1.
Ontario is reporting 1,185 cases of <a href=”https://twitter.com/hashtag/COVID19?src=hash&ref_src=twsrc%5Etfw”>#COVID19</a> and over 59,400 tests completed. Locally, there are 331 new cases in Toronto, 220 in Peel and 119 in York Region. <br> <br>As of 8:00 p.m. yesterday, 668,104 doses of the COVID-19 vaccine have been administered.
Quebec reported 858 new cases and 13 new deaths on Saturday.
WATCH | Quebec plans for COVID-19 ‘immunity passports’:
New Brunswick reported two new cases on Saturday. The province is about a week away from rolling into the less-restrictive yellow phase, says Chief Medical Officer of Health Dr. Jennifer Russell.
Newfoundland and Labrador‘s active caseload dropped again as the province reported 52 new recoveries — a single-day record — and four new cases.
Nova Scotia is introducing new restrictions as it tries to stem an increase in COVID-19 cases. The province reported 10 new cases of COVID-19 on Friday after reporting eight the day before.
Beginning Saturday, restaurants and bars in the Halifax area must stop serving food and drinks by 9 p.m. and must close by 10 p.m. Restrictions are also being placed on sports, arts and culture events.
WATCH | Nova Scotia imposes new COVID-19 restrictions:
In Prince Edward Island, all young people in Summerside aged 14 to 29 are being urged to get tested immediately, whether or not they have any symptoms, after Chief Public Health Officer Dr. Heather Morrison announced a cluster of new cases there.
In Nunavut, authorities have identified another case in the hamlet of Arviat, a community of about 3,000 people where 312 cases have been confirmed since November. Active cases there are now at 26.
In the Northwest Territories, a Gahcho Kué mine worker who contracted COVID-19 is in critical condition, health authorities confirmed Friday. The territory has seen a total of four people hospitalized for complications related to COVID-19, with three connected to the Gahcho Kué mine. All but one have recovered.
What’s happening around the world
As of Saturday morning, more than 113.5 million cases of COVID-19 had been reported worldwide, with 63.8 million of them listed as recovered on a tracking site maintained by Johns Hopkins University. The global death toll stood at more than 2.5 million, according to the U.S.-based university.
In the Middle East, Iran’s Health Ministry said the country expects to receive 250,000 doses of the Sinopharm vaccine from China on Saturday. Alireza Raisi, deputy health minister, said the country will receive doses of other vaccines, including from India, in the “near future” as Iran struggles to fight the worst outbreak of the pandemic in the Middle East.
In Asia, more than 500,000 doses of the Pfizer-BioNTech vaccine arrived in Hong Kong on Saturday following a two-day delay due to export procedures, offering a second inoculation option for the city. The Pfizer-BioNTech shots will be offered to about 2.4 million eligible residents from priority groups, such as those aged 60 and older and health-care workers.
New Zealand’s Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern said on Saturday that the country’s biggest city, Auckland, will be put into a seven-day lockdown from Sunday after a coronavirus community case of unknown origin was recorded. The rest of New Zealand will be put into Level 2 restrictions that limit public gatherings, among others, she told a news conference.
In Europe, French authorities have ordered a local weekend lockdown starting on Friday evening in the French Riviera city of Nice and the surrounding coastal area to try to curb the spread of the virus.
A Second World War-era plane flew Saturday over the funeral service of Capt. Sir Tom Moore to honour the veteran who single-handedly raised millions of pounds for Britain’s health workers by walking laps in his backyard. Moore’s charity walk inspired the nation and raised almost 33 million pounds ($58.5 million Cdn). Captain Tom, as he became known, died Feb. 2 in hospital after testing positive for COVID-19.
In the United States, the House of Representatives passed a $1.9 trillion US coronavirus relief package early Saturday. If approved by the Senate, the American Rescue Plan will pay for vaccines and medical supplies and send a new round of emergency financial aid to households, small businesses and state and local governments. Democrats said the package was needed to fight a pandemic that has killed more than 500,000 Americans and thrown millions out of work.
In Africa, Ivory Coast has become the second country in the world, after Ghana, to receive a shipment of COVID-19 vaccines from the global COVAX initiative. It has received 504,000 doses of the Oxford-AstraZeneca vaccine made by the Serum Institute of India.
Why we need to rethink COVID-19 risk as the weather warms up – CBC.ca
This is an excerpt from Second Opinion, a weekly roundup of health and medical science news emailed to subscribers every Saturday morning. If you haven’t subscribed yet, you can do that by clicking here.
It’s been almost a year of “Stay home. Do nothing. Save lives.” And people are tired.
Pandemic fatigue has turned to pandemic restlessness as the weather shows signs of improving and vaccines gradually roll out across the country.
Hope is on the horizon, but if last spring is any predictor of what lies ahead we can expect to see Canadians flocking outdoors in search of safe ways to gather as temperatures rise.
And with good reason.
After a surge of cases after the holidays, Canada has seen a significant decline in COVID-19 levels across the country following lockdowns in hard-hit regions — even with frigid temperatures driving people indoors and more contagious variants spreading.
As more people get vaccinated, cases (hopefully) continue to decline and society slowly reopens, it may be time to shift our messaging away from strict one-size-fits-all public health guidelines.
Allow small risks to counter fatigue
Experts say officials need to start to shift their messaging and set out realistic parameters for socializing safely over the next few months or risk losing the room — or worse, pushing people to more dangerous behaviour.
Dr. Zain Chagla, an infectious diseases physician at St. Joseph’s Healthcare in Hamilton, Ont., says guidelines need to shift in Canada to educate people on how to see their friends and family safely.
“Now that transmission is down, we need to start making some discussions on the trade offs,” he said.
“Can you really realistically think that people can wait it out at home without any interactions outside of their household for another three months? Or can you at least start prioritizing and building in low risk stuff, so that you give people the sense of normalcy?”
Chagla says recent negative reactions to outdoor activities like tobogganing and skating rinks mirror concerns at the start of the pandemic, when outdoor gatherings in places like parks were seen as dangerous even with no evidence of transmission occurring.
In Ontario, reservations for provincial parks have surged in anticipation of warmer months ahead, nearly doubling in the first few weeks of this year. Cottage rentals are also in high demand, with bookings at levels never seen before.
There’s no doubt people will want to congregate more as the weather improves, and experts say we should transition from an abstinence approach to one of harm reduction.
“If you gave people that opportunity to do things appropriately outside, how many cases would you then save from indoor activity?” said Chagla.
“If you allow them to take that small risk, you’re preventing the people that are going to fatigue and say, ‘Well, I’m just going to have my family over, we’ve been fine, we’ve been isolating for weeks, I deserve this,’ and then have COVID transmission that way.”
Outside is better than inside
Finding practical ways to alleviate pandemic fatigue and allow for some level of safe interaction in the coming weeks and months will be essential to keeping Canada on a downward trajectory with COVID-19 levels.
“People are tired of the sacrifices they’ve made, and for their mental health and physical health want to see other people and want to socialize,” said Linsey Marr, an expert on the airborne transmission of viruses at Virginia Tech.
“Doing it outdoors is very low risk if you avoid face-to-face conversation with people, maintain your distance and avoid crowds.”
Marr says going for a walk side-by-side, taking an exercise class or even having a beer with friends are all relatively safe outdoors when more than two-metres of space is maintained.
New research from the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention shows the risk of indoor activities when proper precautions aren’t taken.
In Hawaii, 21 cases were linked to a fitness instructor during a class where physical distancing measures were in place, but masks weren’t worn and airflow wasn’t prioritized.
A similar situation occurred in Chicago, where 55 people were infected with COVID-19 after attending indoor exercise classes despite physical distancing and some mask use.
The missing element in both of those outbreaks was ventilation.
“We should be opening up park spaces, we should be encouraging outdoor activities where people can gather and gather safely and converse and talk and just be with people,” said Erin Bromage, a biology professor and immunologist at the University of Massachusetts Dartmouth who studies infectious diseases.
“Recognizing that there is a small risk associated with it — but it’s better than the alternative.”
‘Get creative’ with public health messaging
Timothy Caulfield, a Canada Research Chair in health law and policy at the University of Alberta in Edmonton, said public health officials are walking a “tightrope” in communicating public health guidelines in the coming months.
“We have to figure out ways that we can allow people to live their lives, while still making sure that we’re reducing the risk,” he said. “And I think we need to engage people as part of the solution.”
A recent research article published in SAGE surveyed several hundred Italian and French citizens under strict lockdown and found there was significantly less adherence to public health guidelines when people’s concern about COVID-19 was waning, along with their trust in officials.
WATCH | Dealing with stress in this leg of the pandemic:
The World Health Organization released guidelines for fighting pandemic fatigue, focused on understanding people, allowing them to live their lives while reducing risk, engaging with them to find a solution and acknowledging the impact of the pandemic on their lives.
Caulfield says officials need to evolve their messaging with emerging scientific research and avoid being tuned out by the public by setting realistic guidelines for safely interacting.
“We need to recognize that we’re really getting to a point where there’s going to be profound complacency,” he said.
“There is profound fatigue, and not just fatigue about the lockdown. I think there’s fatigue about the messaging — people are sick of hearing about this stuff. So I think we need to get creative.”
Variants make noncompliance higher risk
Bromage said he’s concerned transmission could soon skyrocket due to increased interactions with warm weather amid the spread of variants.
“We’re heading into March very soon, and March is when the pandemic really took off last year,” he said. “I’m holding my breath, just sort of hoping that it’s not a repeat of 2020 given the changing mobility that comes with the weather.”
COVID-19 levels have risen by about five per cent globally in the past week, after significant declines since the beginning of the year, with recent upticks in parts of Canada and the U.S. concerning officials.
“What comes next is really uncertain. Do we roll back up again? Do we just stay at this level?” said Bromage. “Nobody really knows.”
Chagla says we need to give people more low risk activities to do together in the near future, or risk people hiding their interactions with each other behind closed doors.
“A Zoom call versus seeing a very close friend with a mask in the park is slightly higher risk,” he said. “But I think using it to allay fatigue is probably a whole lot better than the implications of just keeping people at home.”
WATCH: The impact of stress, a year into the COVID-19 pandemic:
Caulfield says officials need to re-evaluate public health messaging and explain clearly to people what’s safe and what isn’t.
“I do want to see recommendations on what they can do outside now and how they can enjoy the weather,” he said. “Let’s put a positive spin on this, letting them know that there are steps that can be taken.”
With the emergence of variants, Chagla says the risk of people letting their guard down now is incredibly high.
“You’ve got to get people on your side for the next few months,” said Chagla. “And realistically offering things to them, rather than taking things away, is going to be the way to do it.”
To read the entire Second Opinion newsletter every Saturday morning, subscribe by clicking here.
Why study in Canada? – Canada Immigration News
It should hardly come as a surprise that Canada ranks third in the world for numbers of international students, with our world-class educational system, friendly and welcoming culture, French and English learning options, and favourable living costs.
In fact, many new Canadians start their path to citizenship through post-secondary education. What begins as a search for adventure can end in falling in love with Canada.
By encouraging immigration schemes that support international students, Canada gains highly educated, productive members of society who make our country better by contributing to academia, working at our best firms, serving as doctors, science, etc. There are many reasons why, barely a year ago, Canada ranked third in the world for most international students, with more than 642,000 attending Canadian post-secondaries. Three major drivers for these numbers include: a world-class system of universities and colleges; a welcoming environment; and tuition and living costs favourable in comparison to the United States, Australia, and the United Kingdom.
Studying and working in Canada
There is tremendous value to studying in Canada. International student graduates can be eligible for work permits and immigration programs that lead to permanent residence.
While studying-full time in Canada on a valid study permit, students can work up to 20 hours per week during the school year, and full-time on scheduled breaks. After completion of a post-secondary program, graduates can apply for a Post-Graduation Work Permit (PGWP). These permits, which are valid for at least eight months and may last for up to three years, allow a great degree of freedom in working legally in Canada. PWGP holders can choose to work full-time, or part time. They have the option of working for themselves or an employer. Perhaps most importantly, they are exempt from the requirement of the Labour Market Impact Assessment. This exemption means that the employer does not have to first prove that there is no Canadian citizen or permanent resident available to take the job.
Pathway to permanent residency
Being an international graduate of a Canadian post-secondary institution is also valuable for gaining coveted permanent residency in Canada. Each of Canada’s ten provinces has at least one immigration stream dedicated to the recruitment for permanent residence of foreigners who recently graduated from institutions in a Canadian province. Many provinces have more than one; Manitoba has three and British Columbia has four. Many streams are very broad in their focus while others are targeted for graduates with training in specific areas, such as natural or applied sciences. There are also pathways for those with entrepreneurial ambitions. Some programs are designed for specific levels of education like a Master’s or Ph.D.
International students who want to immigrate through the Express Entry system can get an advantage for having Canadian work experience. Express Entry is a points-based application management system for Canada’s three main federal permanent economic immigration programs: the Federal Skilled Worker Program, the Federal Skilled Trades Program, and the Canadian Experience Class. Candidates can get extra points toward their immigration application for having skilled work experience in Canada.
Why international students make excellent candidates for immigration to Canada
There are many good reasons why federal and provincial governments should prioritize the nomination of international students. International students who graduate from Canadian institutions, generally have many of the qualities that Canada values most in economic immigrants. These attributes include: Canadian study or work experience; high educational attainment; and relative youth. Studying in Canada also demands and develops strong skills in English or French, another key to gaining permanent residency and succeeding in Canada.
Such individuals, by their very nature, generally have many of the qualities, in addition to Canadian study and/or work experience, that Canada values most in its economic immigrants, particularly: high educational attainment; relative youth; and, strong proficiency in English and/or French. Research has identified each of these factors as promoting immigrant integration and success in Canada.
Continuing to welcome international students
Hosting international students is clearly a priority for Canada, and this year has been an excellent test case for finding innovative solutions to bureaucratic hurdles.
The federal government has invited post-secondary institutions to develop quarantine plans for arriving international students. If the government approves the institution’s plan, it can welcome new international students. The federal government has also modified some of the rules regarding international students to accommodate people who— through no fault of their own— are currently unable to be physically present on campus. For example, distance or online learning normally cannot qualify as study for the purposes of a study permit or PGWP. The government has relaxed this rule to not penalize students away from campus due to COVID-19, and to make it clear that Canada still values them and hopes they will return when the situation stabilizes.
IRCC has also relaxed deadlines for PGWP applications and renewals. Circumstances have changed, but Canada remains committed to welcoming the learners of today and Canadians of the future.
Whether you are a Manitoba graduate with a job offer in the province, an Ontario Ph.D. graduate looking to settle permanently, or an International Graduate Entrepreneur seeking to build a business in Nova Scotia, study in Canada can be not only the start of an exciting and enriching educational experience, but also the launching pad to building your life in Canada.
© CIC News All Rights Reserved. Visit CanadaVisa.com to discover your Canadian immigration options.
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