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Trudeau gov. contract for $912M student program was with WE Charity’s real estate holding foundation

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Prime Minister Justice Trudeau’s government awarded the contract to run the $912-million student volunteer program to a foundation that only received charity status last year and whose stated purpose was to “hold real estate,” newly released records show.

Both a government and charity official confirmed the controversial Canada Student Service Grant contract was not with WE Charity, as Trudeau announced.

Rather, the government gave the contract to the WE Charity Foundation, which is a distinct charity with no track record.

The WE Charity Foundation was incorporated as recently as January 2018. It was described by WE as inactive in August 2018 and only became a federally registered charity in April 2019.

Its stated purpose was to hold tens of millions worth of WE Charity real estate.

How it became the vehicle for the government’s sole-source contract for the student volunteer program, which has embroiled the prime minister in an ethics scandal and triggered committee hearings, could raise fresh questions for the Liberals.

In his statements on the CSSG, Trudeau said it was to be “administered by WE Charity.” But late Tuesday, Minister of Diversity and Inclusion and Youth Minister Bardish Chagger’s office confirmed the government had actually contracted the WE Charity Foundation.

“The contribution agreement for the Canada Student Service Grant is between the Government of Canada and WE Charity Foundation,” Dani Keenan said.

WE Charity and WE Charity Foundation are in fact different charities.

In Canada Revenue Agency documents, WE Charity Foundation said it was not a branch, section or division of any other charity. But the two organizations have the same Toronto address and phone number.

WE Charity said it decided to make the Foundation the “contracting party” with the government on the advice of its lawyers due to concerns about legal liabilities stemming from the federal student program.

“The use of multiple corporate entities to isolate liabilities for particular projects is not uncommon. This action was done with on the advice of legal counsel and with the consent of the board of directors,” the statement said.

“WE Charity counsel proposed that WE Charity Foundation be the party to the funding agreement in part to protect WE Charity’s pre-existing charitable assets, which are needed to continue to deliver WE Charity’s longstanding charitable programs. The WE Charity Board of Directors is structured to provide governance and legal oversight over the WE Charity Foundation.”

But charity lawyer Mark Blumberg said it was “shocking” the Trudeau government provided the $912-million student service grant to the WE Charity Foundation and not WE Charity.

“This appears to completely different than what was said by a number of government officials in different forums,” said Blumberg, a partner at Blumberg Segal LLP.

“It is absolutely shocking that the government would say that they provided a grant to We Charity when in fact they provided the grant or funds to WE Charity Foundation — a shell corporation with no assets, no history, no record of charitable work.”

Blumberg said if WE Charity Foundation had been unable to complete the student volunteer program the government would have had little recourse to recover any funds.

“It is close to useless to obtain an indemnity from a charity with no assets,” he said. “I can understand why WE Charity would want this agreement with any potential exposure to be in the name of WE Charity Foundation, but I cannot understand, if the government was protecting the interests of Canadian taxpayers or citizens, why the government would either agree to this or incorrectly state who the correct party is to this very important agreement.”

Blumberg said WE Charity and WE Charity Foundation are two separate entities with different directors, different history, different assets,

“It would be like saying the Government of Ontario has given $100M to London, Ontario, to help fight the impact of COVID versus actually providing the funds to London, England,” he said.

A youth-oriented international development organization formed in 1997, WE Charity owns $43.7 million worth of land and buildings in Canada, according to its income tax filings.

The WE Charity Foundation, meanwhile, was founded in 2018 by WE Charity executives Victor Li, Scott Baker and Dalal Al-Waheidi, CRA documents show.

WE’s own financial documents said the Foundation was created to provide and maintain facilities for charities “to house their operations,” but that it had “not yet begun operations.”

The Foundation claimed in CRA documents to have a budget of $150,000 and $37.5 million in assets — all of it “real estate held for use by other charities.”

“WE Charity Foundation will hold real estate for the use and benefit of WE Charity and other registered charities,” according to the CRA documents.

“Once registered as a charity, the following property will be transferred to WE Charity Foundation,” the directors wrote in their CRA paperwork.

The documents indicate that WE Charity was to transfer seven properties to the Foundation. An eighth property was to come from Vancouver-based WE Charity partner Imagine 1 Day, the government documents said. The CRA blacked out the details of the properties before releasing the documents.

The federal government informed the WE Charity Foundation on April 3, 2019, it had been granted charity status.

“Regarding your question about the WE Charity Foundation: It is a legal entity that never previously operated nor held any funds for any purpose, and was created in part to manage legal liability,” WE Charity said in its statement to Global News.

“For the CSSG legal agreement, it was established WE would indemnify the government of Canada from all losses related to the participation of the first 40,000 students as well as the non-profit partners who were engaging those students.”

“WE was therefore assuming significant possible legal liability for the program, especially considering the service work would be done during a global health pandemic. Such liability could overwhelm WE Charity, and counsel advised that the contracting party could preferably be WE Charity Foundation.’”

Discussions with WE Charity about the CSSG began in April. On June 9, the Foundation filed documents amending its purpose, adding that it would also be handing out scholarships and promoting “public participation with volunteer and community organizations.”

The deal was announced by the prime minister on June 25 but was subsequently scrapped and the prime minister is now facing allegations of ethical lapses, partly over hefty speaking fees WE paid to members of his family.  Finance Minister Bill Morneau, whose daughter works for WE Charity, is also facing an ethics investigation for failing to recuse himself from the decision to award the charity a contract.

Both Trudeau and Morneau have apologized.

Kate Bahen, managing director with Charity Intelligence Canada, called for the public release of the original CSSG agreement between the government and the WE organization.

“It’s very important to understand which party was dealing with who,” she said. “We need to see the contract.”

“It was the digging by the media that WE Charity would be administering this $912-million contract. The prime minister spoke and praised WE Charity and then his words changed to the WE Organization.”

Charity Intelligence, which evaluated charitable organizations, has said it is concerned that the organization blurs the line between WE Charity, which is required to publish its financial reports and the for-profit company ME to WE, which is not required to disclose its finances.

“I think there has been a lot of confusion about WE Charity, ME to WE and all the different entities with the WE Organization,”  Behan said.

Bahen said one example of this blurring is that the charity’s chief financial officer holds the same position for WE Charity in Canada and the United States and for the ME to WE for-profit group. She has called for WE Charity to hire a Tier 1 auditing firm to ensure greater transparency and to add more independent directors.

WE Charity announced on July 15 it was launching an organization review with the aim of streamlining its operations and creating a “clearer separation of the social enterprise from the charitable entities.”

Source: – Globalnews.ca

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How to Buy a home in Canada

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Homeownership can be very exciting, but it isn’t always the best thing for everyone. Before you decide to buy a home, make sure you carefully consider the costs.

According to Canada Mortgage and Housing Corporation (CMHC), your monthly housing costs should not be more than about 35% of your gross monthly income. This includes costs such as mortgage payments and utilities.

Your entire monthly debt load should not be more than 42% of your gross monthly income. This includes your mortgage payments and all your other debts.

Use CMHC’s step-by-step guide to help you decide if homeownership is right for you.

Saving for your home

To buy a home, you need a down payment. You also need money to pay for the upfront costs.

Make saving part of your monthly budget. Most employers deposit your pay directly into your chequing or savings account. Increase your chances of reaching your savings goals by setting up automatic transfers to a savings account each pay cheque.

Use the Financial Goal Calculator to help you determine how long it will take you to reach your savings goals.

Saving with a Tax-Free Savings Account (TFSA)

TFSA is an account that lets you save or invest your money tax-free. You won’t pay tax on money you withdraw from your TFSA. You can also use your TFSA to help you buy a home.

Find out about TFSAs.

Saving with a Registered Retirement Savings Plan (RRSP)

An RRSP is an account that allows you to save money for your retirement. You don’t pay taxes on your savings until you withdraw money from the RRSP.

Find out about RRSPs.

The Home Buyers’ Plan (HBP)

If you’re a first-time homebuyer, the HBP allows you to withdraw up to $35,000 from your RRSPs tax-free to put toward buying your first home.

Learn more on how to participate in the Home Buyers’ Plan.

The First-Time Home Buyer Incentive

This incentive offers 5% or 10% of your home’s purchase price to put towards a down payment.

Learn more about the First-Time Home Buyer Incentive.

Using savings and investment

If you plan to buy a home in the near future, focus on building your savings. You’ll want to keep your money protected and easily accessible.

Short-term savings and investment options may include:

  • savings accounts
  • short-term guaranteed investment certificates (GIC)
  • low-risk mutual funds

Ask your financial institution or advisor about the short-term investments they offer and how they work.

Learn more about setting savings and investments goals.

Paying for your home

Most people need to borrow money to buy a home. You also need to put some of your own money into the purchase.

Down payment

When you buy a home, you must put a certain amount of money toward the purchase upfront. This is called a down payment. Your mortgage loan will cover the rest of the price.

Find out how much of a down payment you need to purchase a home.

Mortgage process

A mortgage is likely the biggest loan you get in your lifetime. It’s important that you understand the process.

Check your credit report before you apply for a mortgage

A potential lender considers your credit history before they decide whether or not to approve your mortgage application.

Before you start shopping around for a mortgage:

Shop around for a mortgage

Lenders may have different interest rates and conditions for similar mortgages. Talk to several lenders to find the best mortgage for your needs.

You can get a mortgage from:

Mortgage lenders – These institutions lend money directly to you. Explore the different types of lenders that are available, including banks and credit unions.

Mortgage brokers – They don’t lend money directly to you. Mortgage brokers arrange transactions by finding a lender for you. Since brokers have access to many lenders, they may give you a wider range of mortgages to choose from. The lender pays a commission to the mortgage brokers, so there’s no cost to you.

Find a local certified mortgage broker with Mortgage Professionals Canada.

Find out about getting pre-approved and qualified for a mortgage.

Get the mortgage that meets your needs

Mortgages have different features to meet different needs. It’s important that you understand the options and features.

Questions you should ask yourself include:

  • do you want a mortgage with a fixed interest rate or one that can rise or fall
  • how long of a term do you want
  • how often would you like to make payments toward your mortgage

Find a mortgage that is right for you.

Mortgage loan insurance

If your down payment is less than 20% of your home’s price, you need to purchase mortgage loan insurance. In some cases, you may need to get mortgage loan insurance even if you have a 20% down payment.

Mortgage loan insurance protects the mortgage lender in case you’re not able to make your mortgage payments. It does not protect you. Mortgage loan insurance is also sometimes called mortgage default insurance.

Optional mortgage life, critical illness, disability and employment insurance

Your lender may ask whether you would like to purchase life, critical illness, disability and employment insurance.

These products that can help make mortgage payments, or can help pay off the remainder owing on your mortgage, if you:

  • lose your job
  • become injured or disabled
  • become critically ill
  • die

There are important exemptions for each of these insurance products. An exemption is something not covered by your insurance policy. Read the insurance certificate before you apply to understand what this insurance covers.

These insurance products are optional. You don’t need to purchase this insurance coverage for your mortgage to be approved. You must clearly agree to sign up for this insurance before the lender charges you for it.

Learn more about optional mortgage insurance products.

Tax credits for homebuyers

The Government of Canada offers two tax credits for specific types of homebuyers. Your provincial or territorial government may also offer other home-buying incentives.

The Home buyers’ amount

You get access to this tax credit when you purchase your first home and submit a tax return. It’s an effective means of offsetting some of the upfront costs associated with buying a home. Eligible homebuyers may receive a tax credit of up to $750.

Find out if you’re eligible for the Home buyers’amount.

GST/HST housing rebates

Generally speaking, sales of new homes are subject to the GST/HST. You may qualify for a rebate for some of the tax you paid.

Learn more about the GST/HST housing rebates that may be available to you.

Moving expenses

You may move into a new home to work or run a business in a new location. You can deduct eligible moving expenses from the employment or self-employment income that you earn in the new location.

Find out if you’re eligible to claim moving expenses.

Home buying costs

When you buy a home, you have to pay for upfront costs in addition to your mortgage. These are called closing costs. You can expect to spend between 1.5% and 4% of the home’s purchase price on closing costs. You usually pay these costs by the time the sale is completed or “closes”.

Legal costs

You have to pay legal fees on your closing day. This is the day that your home purchase is complete. These fees are usually range between $400 to $2,500 but will vary depending on your lawyer’s or notary’s rates.

A lawyer or notary can help protect your legal interests. They make sure that the home you want to buy does not have a lien against it. A lien is a legal claim over another person’s property that someone files to ensure a debt gets paid.

A lawyer or notary reviews all contracts before you sign them. They also review your offer or agreement to purchase.

Home insurance

You must have home insurance in place as a condition of getting a mortgage.

Home insurance can help protect your home and its contents. It typically covers the inside and outside of your home in case of theft, loss or damage.

Learn more about how home insurance works and the different types that are available.

Land registration

Before the sale closes, you’re required to pay to register your property’s title under your name. This may be called a land transfer tax, a deed registration fee, a tariff, or a property transfer tax.

The cost is a percentage of the home’s purchase price. For example, if your land transfer tax is 1.5% and your home cost $300,000, you pay $4,500.

Adjustment costs

The seller of the home you’re buying may be entitled to adjustments. For example, the seller may have already paid the property tax on the home past the purchase closing date. If that’s the case, the seller receives a credit on the closing date. You must then pay this credit amount to cover the money already paid by the seller.

New build GST/HST

Generally, if you buy a new build home, you pay GST or HST. Some builders include the HST in their sale price while others don’t. Make sure to check. Otherwise, you have to pay this cost upfront on closing day.

Other closing costs

Other closing costs may include:

  • interest adjustments (period between your purchase date and your first mortgage payment)
  • Certificate of Location cost
  • estoppel certificate (for condominium units)
  • township or municipal levies (may apply to new homes in subdivisions)
  • mortgage default insurance premium (if paying premium up front instead of adding it to mortgage loan)
  • provincial sales tax on premiums for mortgage default insurance (applicable in some provinces)

Other home-buying costs

Other costs you may need to budget for include:

Home appraisal

Mortgage lenders may ask you to have an appraisal done as part of the mortgage approval process.

An appraiser provides a professional opinion about the market value of the home you want to buy. An appraisal fee is generally between $350 and $500.

For more information on the appraisal process, read the guide from the Appraisal Institute of Canada.

Home inspection

An inspector provides a comprehensive visual inspection of a home’s overall structure, major systems and components such as:

  • electrical and plumbing systems
  • the foundation
  • the roof

CMHC recommends that you include a home inspection as a condition when you make an offer.

Use tips from the Office of Consumer Affairs to find an inspector and learn about home inspections.

Moving costs

Before moving in, you may also have to pay for:

  • moving costs
  • storage costs
  • real estate costs for selling your home (if applicable)
  • redirecting mail

Find out what to consider when choosing a moving company, and how to plan for moving day costs.

Once you move in, you may immediately face other costs, including:

  • utility hook-up fees
  • basic furniture and appliances
  • painting and cleaning
  • water tests
  • septic tank tests (if applicable)

Use this home purchase cost estimate form to estimate your home-buying costs.

Working with a real estate agent

Using a realtor is optional. A realtor typically searches for homes, negotiates a purchase price, fills out and file paperwork, and more.

The seller pays the realtor’s fees when you buy a home.

Learn more about a realtor’s involvement in the home-buying process.

Home buying and newcomers to Canada

CMHC has a guide with comprehensive information on housing for newcomers.

Consult Buying Your First Home in Canada: What newcomers need to know.

Buying a condominium

Condominiums, or condos, are shared properties that contain individual housing units. Each unit has its own owner. Owners share the common areas outside of the unit such as the lobby and parking lot.

There are pros and cons to owning a condo. For example, if you buy a condo, you pay monthly condo fees. However, you may like the idea of sharing the building maintenance costs with the other unit owners.

Learn about condo fees and other ongoing costs of maintaining a home.

Use this Condominium Buyers Guide for tips on what to consider before buying.

Buying to rent

You can buy a property with the intention of renting it out. Keep in mind that you have to declare your rental income at tax time each year.

Find out how to calculate your rental income and which expenses you can deduct.

 

 

Source: Financial Consumer Agency of Canada

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Real eState

How to Renew and renegotiate your mortgage in Canada

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Your mortgage may end when the term is over, or by agreement between you and the lender. When the term ends, if you still owe money you may have to renew the mortgage. If you want to change the agreement or end the mortgage before the term is over, you will usually have to pay a fee and negotiate a new mortgage.

Renewal

When your mortgage agreement comes to the end of its term, you may still owe a large amount of money to the lender. If you have money available, you can pay any amount to reduce the principal. If you can’t pay it off completely, you will have to renew the mortgage, either with the original lender or with a new one. This is a chance to review all the terms of your agreement and make sure they still meet your needs.

The lender must send you a renewal statement at least 21 days before the end of the term, summarizing the information about your mortgage. The lender has the option not to renew the mortgage if you have a poor payment record, but it must notify you if it decides not to renew.

Just as with a new mortgage, you should find out what terms your lender is offering, and compare them with terms you can get from other lenders. To find out your options, you should start researching several months before the term expires. You may be able to get better terms if market conditions have changed, or if your own situation has changed.

Don’t hesitate to take your mortgage to a new lender if you can get better terms than your original lender is willing to offer. However, there may be additional costs and legal fees to change your mortgage from one lender to another. See if a new lender would be willing to cover these costs to get your business. You should get legal advice if you make a new mortgage agreement.

Tip

Check that the benefits of transferring a mortgage outweigh the costs. The new lender may be willing to absorb some costs of transferring the mortgage.

A mortgage broker can help you look for a new mortgage with better terms. However, the broker may not check if your current lender can offer you a better deal. Contact your lender directly to see if it will match any offer you receive.

Renegotiation

Some mortgages allow you to renegotiate some items before the term is over. For example, if interest rates available in the market have fallen significantly, you may want to renegotiate your interest rate or even terminate the agreement early.

Normally, you can renegotiate only if you pay a significant charge that provides the lender with the profit it would have made had you continued the agreement. Before you decide to renegotiate, ask your lender what the total cost of all charges and fees will be. The lender must explain to you how it calculates the charges. The costs are likely to be more than any savings you might get.

Some lenders offer a “blend and extend” option—they will allow you to extend the mortgage for a longer term at a lower interest rate by blending your current rate with a new lower rate.

Tip

Carefully weigh the benefits and risks of renegotiating. You might get a lower interest rate or extend it over a longer term. But the costs might be more than the savings. And rates might continue to go down to an even lower level when your normal renewal date arrives.

Example

Jim has a mortgage of $100,000 with a fixed interest rate of 7.5 percent. He has three years left on his five-year term. The current market mortgage rate for a three-year term is 5.5 percent. Jim is thinking about renegotiating, but his mortgage agreement says that to renegotiate he must pay a prepayment charge based on the difference between his existing interest rate and the new one.

  • The lender calculates his prepayment charge to be $5,820.
  • Jim calculates that at 7.5 percent, he’ll pay $25,545.89 for the remaining three years of his mortgage.
  • At 5.5 percent, his payments for three years will total $21,314.87.
  • His interest saving would amount to $4,231.02. But he’d pay about $1,600 more in charges than he’d save in interest. In the end, renegotiating is not worthwhile.
Jim compares the benefits of lower interest against the cost of prepayment.

To calculate the savings from changing to a lower interest rate, you can use the Financial Consumer Agency of Canada’s Mortgage Calculator to compare costs with different interest rates.

Use the Financial Consumer Agency of Canada’s Mortgage Calculator to compare the costs of renegotiating a loan. If you have a mortgage, use the information from your own mortgage. If you do not, use the sample information on the website to view the results.

Mortgage prepayment charges

Financial institutions have a variety of ways to calculate the cost to break or change your mortgage. The most common methods are three months’ interest, or the difference between the interest rate on your mortgage agreement and the rate the institution can get when it re-lends the money, multiplied by the number of months remaining. Check your agreement or contact an agent to see how the prepayment charge is calculated.

Charges and fees may change when you renew your mortgage.

Charges may also apply if you:

  • are late in making a regular payment or don’t pay the full amount
  • pay more than the allowable prepayment in your agreement
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Real eState

Protecting your mortgage in Canada

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Protecting your mortgage in Canada- What happens if you lose your job or get injured and can’t keep up the payments on your mortgage? Would you be forced to give up your mortgage and sell your home? Insurance helps you manage the risk of losing your home.

Protecting your mortgage. There are four main types of mortgage insurance—one protects the lender, and three protect you.

Insurance that protects the lender

  • Mortgage default insurance protects the lender if you don’t make your mortgage payments. It’s required for all mortgages where the down payment is less than 20 percent of the purchase price.
    • Often it’s added to the mortgage, so you pay for it over the life of the mortgage—and you pay interest on it, too.
    • Some lenders ask you to make a separate lump-sum payment for the cost of the insurance.
    • The table below shows the cost of standard mortgage default insurance provided by the Canada Mortgage and Housing Corporation. (Your lender can also use independent mortgage default insurers.) The rate is calculated as a percentage of the value of the mortgage loan, and may vary in certain conditions.
Mortgage value
Mortgage value Standard premium % of loan amount*
Up to and including 65% of property value 0.60%
Up to and including 75% of property value 1.70%
Up to and including 80% of property value 2.40%
Up to and including 85% of property value 2.80%
Up to and including 90% of property value 3.10%
Up to and including 95% of property value 4.00%
Non-traditional sources of down payment** ​4.50%
*Premiums in Manitoba, Ontario and Quebec are subject to provincial sales tax — the sales tax cannot be added to the loan amount.

** Down payment requirements:

  • Traditional sources of down payment include: applicant’s savings, Registered Retirement Savings Plan (RRSP) withdrawal, funds borrowed against proven assets, sweat equity (that is, when the buyer contributes work instead of money, which can be up to 50% of minimum required equity), land unencumbered, proceeds from sale of another property, non-repayable gift from immediate relative, equity grant (non-repayable grant from federal, provincial or municipal agency).
  • Non-traditional sources of down payment include: any source that is arm’s length to and not tied to the purchase or sale of the property, such as borrowed funds, gifts, 100% sweat equity, lender cash-back incentives.

Insurance that protects the homeowner

  • Mortgage life insurance covers your mortgage payments if you die. If that happens, your family will not have to worry about losing their home as well. Mortgage life insurance expires when the mortgage is paid off.
    • While your premium payments stay the same, the insurance benefit declines to match the amount remaining on your mortgage.
    • Mortgage life insurance may be offered by the financial institution that provides your mortgage. (It is an optional service, although the institution may offer a preferred rate if you buy the insurance.)
    • When banks offer mortgage life insurance, they must follow a code of conduct, which requires that they explain, among other things, the details of the policy, the charges and the conditions to cancel.
  • Mortgage disability insurance covers your mortgage payments in case you have a serious illness or accident. You may already have disability insurance provided by your employer, so check to see what added coverage you may need to ensure your mortgage payment is covered.
  • Term life insurance covers your life up to an amount that you choose, but it doesn’t normally cover illness or disability. If you die, your family receives the insurance payment, and can use it to cover the mortgage payments. Coverage continues as long as the term you choose.
    • The cost of term insurance depends on many factors, such as age, state of health, personal situation and the length of time the insurance is needed. The cost could be less than the cost of mortgage life insurance.
    • Because term life is not tied to a mortgage, it can be used for any other purposes when it’s paid out.

For more information about insurance in general, see the module on Insurance.

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