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Vancouver keeps crown as Canadian metropolis with highest rents and lowest vacancies –



When it comes to rental housing, Vancouver is still number one — at least when it comes to prices.

The Canada Mortgage and Housing Corporation annual rental report was issued Wednesday morning, showing the region continues to have the highest rents and lowest vacancies of any Canadian metropolis with at least 500,000 people. 

The vacancy rate for apartments intended for rental in Metro Vancouver rose from 1.0 per cent to 1.1 in 2019, while the average rent for two-bedroom units increased from $1,649 to $1,748 — a six per cent increase from the previous year. 

That’s even with more supply. The number of condominium apartments in long-term rental increased by an additional 11,118 units — an 18.9 per cent across the region — which a CMHC spokesperson attributed to investor-owners increasing their involvement in the long-term rental market.

The greater Victoria area had the overall lowest vacancy rate in Canada, while the next most expensive two-bedroom apartments were found in Toronto ($1,562) and Calgary ($1,305).

Vacancy rates for a bachelor unit in Metro Vancouver were 0.7 per cent, 1.0 per cent for a one bedroom rental, 1.5 per cent for a two bedroom unit and 1.0 per cent for anything with three or more rooms. 

Why didn’t things improve?

Vancouver’s rental situation remained relatively static in spite of housing prices dipping across the region, and assessed values decreasing by as much as 15 per cent in the last year. 

But CMHC analyst Eric Bond said upward pressure on rents remained, in part because the price of buying a home or condo remained out of reach for so many. 

“We have this situation where entry-level home prices remain high relative to local incomes,” he said.

“And so that means many potential homebuyers that face financial barriers to entry into homeownership choose to rent for a longer term, which then contributes to that [rental] demand.”

Bond added that while there were some regional changes in Metro Vancouver’s rental market — vacancy rates rising in Vancouver and Surrey, but declining in Burnaby and New Westminster — it was still tight across the board.

“There is very strong demand for rental apartment, and that’s been supported by population growth, employment growth and continued barriers to entry into homeownership.” 

City of Vancouver mayor Kennedy Stewart speaks at a press conference inside Vancouver City Hall on Tuesday, January 14, 2020. (Maggie MacPherson/CBC)

Stewart to other cities: ‘pick it up a little bit’

“We’ve got to build more rental housing. That’s all we have to do,” said Vancouver Mayor Kennedy Stewart, a point he has repeated since being elected in 2018. 

Stewart argued it wasn’t a given that the region would continue to be the worst in Canada for rental prices, but said it was incumbent on some of Metro Vancouver’s 20 other municipalities to approve more new rental buildings. 

“We have about 25 percent of the population, but we’re providing 40 percent of the rental housing. So I would hope that other municipalities would kind of pick it up a little bit,” he said. 

But not every municipality takes the same philosophy as Stewart.

“There’s different attitudes across the region toward housing,” said North Vancouver District councillor Mathew Bond. 

Less than five per cent of housing starts in 2019 in the district were dedicated to rental in 2019, and a majority of councillors in 2018 were elected on a platform of slowing down growth. 

“Right now I think we’re in a bit of a holding pattern,” said Bond, adding that it was important to remember that the entire region went decades without approving much new rental. 

“It’s going to take more than a few approvals every few years to get out of this problem.”

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RBC online banking, trading inaccessible due to 'technical issues' – Yahoo Canada Finance



RBC online banking, trading inaccessible due to 'technical issues'
The Royal Bank of Canada logo is seen outside of a branch in Ottawa

TORONTO (Reuters) – Royal Bank of Canada’s <RY.TO> online banking and retail trading platforms, as well as its telephone support system, have been down since Monday morning, with users receiving error messages attributing the failures to “technical issues.”

Irate clients of Canada’s biggest bank took to Twitter to complain about their inability to access their accounts, execute trades on the bank’s website or app, or reach customer service agents, with some pointing out that this was not the first outage experienced by the bank this year.

“We’re aware of an issue affecting our online banking and mobile app at the moment,” RBC posted on Twitter in response to the complaints. “We’re working to get this corrected as quickly as possible. We’re sorry for the inconvenience.”

RBC did not immediately respond to an emailed request for comment. The bank’s shares were down 2% in afternoon trade in Toronto, versus a 1.8% decline in the Toronto stock benchmark <.GSPTSE>.

(Reporting by Nichola Saminather; Editing by Steve Orlofsky)

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Paper towel in short supply as people stay home, clean more, industry leader says – CP24 Toronto's Breaking News



MONTREAL — The head of Canada’s largest manufacturer of tissue products says he’s concerned about the industry’s supply of paper towel ahead of a potential second wave of COVID-19.

Kruger Products CEO Dino Bianco says demand for paper towel has soared as people stay at home and clean more frequently.

He says the industry is “very tight” on paper towel inventory across North America, despite efforts to build up supply.

Bianco says Kruger, which makes SpongeTowels paper towels, is pushing to open its new plant in Sherbrooke, Que., to add more capacity in Canada.

Although slated to open in February 2021, he said the company is trying to get the factory up and running faster. Some machines started over the summer, while more are set to come online in October.

Bianco said the plant will increase the company’s paper towel and toilet paper manufacturing capacity by 20 per cent.

Meanwhile, he says the company is also seeing a shortage of the recycled fibres used in about 25 per cent of its tissue products.

Bianco says Kruger recycles white paper used in offices, but that the market has dried up because people aren’t in offices printing.

This report by The Canadian Press was first published Sept. 21, 2020.

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Bank shares slide on report of rampant money laundering – Yahoo Canada Finance



Bank shares slide on report of rampant money laundering

The financial sector was hit hard Monday following a report alleging that a number of banks, JPMorgan, HSBC, Standard Chartered Bank, Deutsche Bank and Bank of New York Mellon among them, have continued to profit from illicit dealings with disreputable people and criminal networks despite previous warnings from regulators.

According to the International Consortium of Investigative Journalists, leaked government documents show that the banks continued moving illicit funds even after being warned of potential criminal prosecutions. The documents were obtained by BuzzFeed News and shared with the ICIJ.

The report compounded a massive sell-off across global markets because of gloom and doom over COVID-19 infections and the economic damage from the pandemic.

The consortium reported that documents indicate that JPMorgan moved money for people and companies tied to the massive looting of public funds in Malaysia, Venezuela and the Ukraine. The bank also processed more than $50 million in payments over a decade for Paul Manafort, the former campaign manager for President Donald Trump, according to the documents, which are known as the FinCEN Files.

Shares of JP Morgan tumbled 4.4%.

The consortium’s investigation found the documents identify more than $2 trillion in transactions between 1999 and 2017 that were flagged by financial institutions’ internal compliance officers as possible money laundering or other criminal activity, and $1.3 trillion of that activity took place at Deutsche Bank. Shares of Deutsche Bank dropped 7.7%.

Deutsche Bank has been under scrutiny for years. The bank, based in Frankfurt, Germany, agreed to pay the state of New York $150 million to settle claims that it broke compliance rules in its dealings with the sex offender Jeffrey Epstein. Epstein killed himself last August in a Manhattan federal jail while awaiting trial on sex trafficking charges.

German newspaper Sueddeutsche Zeitung reported last year that Deutsche Bank gave expensive gifts to senior Chinese officials and hired family members of Chinese elite as it was trying to establish itself as a major player in China’s financial industry.

In a related action, the bank agreed last year to pay about $16 million to settle civil charges by the U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission that it violated the Foreign Corrupt Practices Act by hiring relatives of government officials in Asia and Russia in an effort to improperly influence the officials to help its investment banking business. Deutsche Bank neither admitted nor denied the allegations in the settlement.

Also in 2019, German prosecutors indicted a 48-year-old former employee of Deutsche Bank as part of a probe into a massive tax evasion scam that’s led to more than a dozen prosecutions.

In 2018, German authorities raided Deutsche Bank’s headquarters on suspicions that its employees helped clients set up offshore companies that were used to launder hundreds of millions of euros. The case was spurred by the release of the Panama Papers. A long-running money-laundering investigation of the bank is being pursued by federal prosecutors in New York.

In the wake of the Epstein scandal, Deutsche Bank said it had invested almost $1 billion to improve its training and controls and had boosted its staff overseeing the work to more than 1,500 employees “to continue enhancing our anti-financial crime capabilities.”

For years, Deutsche Bank has wrestled with regulatory penalties and fines, high costs, weak profits and a low share price. The bank went three straight years without turning an annual profit before recording positive earnings of 341 million euros for 2018.

The London Bank HSBC, Europe’s largest acknowledged in 2012 that it had laundered at least $881 million for Latin American drug cartels. However, according to the report, HSBC continued to manage money for shady clients, including suspected Russian money launderers and a Ponzi scheme under investigation in multiple countries.

Shares of HSBC, already down more than 50% this year, slumped to levels not seen in more than two decades Monday.


This story has been corrected to show that Deutsche Bank’s $16 million settlement last year was related to the Foreign Corrupt Practices Act, not a criminal money-laundering case.

The Associated Press

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