New Canadian Media

By: Charles Lammam and Milagros Palacios in Vancouver 

With home prices rising across the country, many of us would likely assume that housing costs (including rent and mortgage payments) are the most expensive budget item for the average Canadian family.

In reality, however, the average Canadian household spends more on taxes than any other expense—including housing. Specifically, in 2016 the average Canadian family (including single Canadians) earned $83,105 in income and paid $35,283 in total taxes. That’s 42.5 per cent of income going to taxes.

Surprised? You’re not alone.

For most of us, the income and payroll tax deductions on our paycheques do not total anything close to this percentage. But to understand the full cost of taxation, you must consider all the taxes—both visible and hidden—that we pay throughout the year to federal, provincial and municipal governments including sales taxes, property taxes, fuel taxes, carbon taxes, import taxes, alcohol taxes and much more. All these taxes add up and make our overall tax bill expensive.
So how does the overall tax bill compare to housing costs?

The average Canadian family spends 22.1 per cent of its income on housing—only about half as much as it spends on taxes (again, 42.5 per cent).

In fact, taxes consume more of the average family’s income than all the basic necessities of life combined. If you add up the average family’s spending on housing, food and clothing in a year, it comes to 37.4 per cent of its income—still quite a bit less than what we pay in taxes.

With 42.5 per cent of income going to taxes, Canadian families may rightfully wonder whether they get good value for their tax dollars. Of course, taxes fund important government services. But we shouldn’t simply assume that higher taxes always provide better government services.

While it’s ultimately up to individual Canadians and their families to decide if they’re getting the best bang for their money, you must know how much you pay in total taxes to make an informed assessment. That’s where our annual calculations help. They estimate the cost of government for the average family. Armed with this knowledge, Canadians can then determine if they think they’re getting good value in return.

Some perspective might help.

In most provinces, more than 50 per cent of our tax dollars finance generous pay for government employees. In fact, government employees, on average, receive 10.6 per cent higher wages than comparable private-sector workers doing similar work. And that’s on top of the much more generous non-wage benefits (pension coverage, job security, early retirement) the government sector also enjoys. Of course, we need qualified and well-paid government workers, but is this pay and benefit premium the best use of our tax dollars?

In the case of health care, which consumes around 40 per cent of most provincial budgets and is a fast-growing expense, international comparisons show that, despite high levels of spending, Canadians have comparatively poor access to technology and doctors, and endure longer wait times for surgery. It’s hard to see how we get good value for our money in public health care when measured against other countries that also offer universal access.

Most troubling is when our tax dollars are outright wasted on boondoggles and failed government programs. A recent study documented more than 600 cases where the federal government failed to meet its own objectives over a 25-year period, resulting in up to $197 billion of wasted tax money.

Bottom line—if Canadians are more informed about the true cost of government, they will be better equipped to hold government accountable for how it spends our tax dollars. And that leads to a more robust public debate about the overall tax burden and whether we’re getting our money’s worth.


Charles Lammam is the Director, Fiscal Studies, at the Fraser Institute and Milagros Palacios is the Senior Research Economist at the Fraser Institute. This piece was republished under arrangement with the Asian Pacific Post.

Published in Economy

Guest Commentary by Stewart Beck

Moving day in West Vancouver – after two years of leasing and realizing the market wasn’t going to plateau, we bought a home in North Vancouver. Our soon to be old “hood” is busy: Down the street, a home is being demolished, the third in the two years we’ve lived here.

The dump trucks and the construction are an aggravation but you can rationalize this with the employment generated by the new builds.

However, the two houses already built have been empty since their construction was finished. Not the best for the neighbourhood.

Vancouver’s real estate market has captured the attention of the world. Thanks to the media, everyone knows that the value of the city’s real estate has grown at an unrealistic and unaffordable rate. Local residents are being crowded out, both geographically and financially.

And, no matter who you are and how you describe it, the out-of-proportion escalation in the cost of real estate is being blamed on the movement of Chinese money, legal and/or illegal (those who are politically correct use the term “foreign investors”) into the Vancouver and Toronto markets.

The staggering growth in China’s middle class, the current Chinese political environment, the Chinese investor’s penchant to speculate, and Vancouver’s reputation as among the most liveable cities in the world have contributed to these rising prices.

Something needed to be done and Premier Christy Clark’s announcement of a 15-per-cent tax on non-Canadians buying residential real estate was one way to deal with this politically volatile issue.

The new tax will likely achieve what it sets out to do.

It should cool the market and reduce the discriminatory effects of foreign investment. Foreign speculators will be given a framework in which to operate, and will pay their fair share to the province’s treasury. Meanwhile, legitimate investors will build the new costs into their decision models.

The tax is likely to help keep home ownership within the realm of possibility for middle-class families living in Metro Vancouver. This will level the playing field for citizens, creating a more balanced environment between citizen and foreign buyers.

This announcement has been a long time coming.

 The reality of a self-regulated market is that foreign speculators are going to use the regulatory framework to their advantage. It is not up to foreign governments to control how their citizens invest; rather, it is the responsibility of Canadian leaders.

The new tax is unlikely to come as a surprise to the Chinese government or Chinese investors. Indeed, China’s consul-general in Vancouver addressed the matter last year, saying that B.C. regulators, not Chinese investors, should be blamed for rising prices.

She suggested a number of policy options, including improved oversight of the real estate development community and a luxury tax on overseas investors. Essentially, she was saying that if we provide the environment for speculators from Mainland China or other countries to operate, they will do so.

No one likes tax increases, though, and an argument can be made that a 15-per-cent tax will create a disincentive to investment.

However, with an election looming next year, a policy that has the potential to improve the domestic political environment will be welcomed.

That said, the new tax will only be effective if it’s properly enforced. The province will need to ensure that foreign investors are not using resident family and friends to bypass the tax, and will need to verify that buyers are truthfully disclosing their citizenship.

If the government can address these concerns, and work out the wrinkles along the way, then this new policy will succeed in its mission.

By addressing the issue directly and creating a fair playing field, the province will also cool the rhetoric around Chinese investment and economic relations, paving the way for closer economic ties in the future, backed by public opinion unaffected by a real estate dilemma.

Stewart Beck is president and CEO of the Asia Pacific Foundation of Canada.

By arrangement with the Asian Pacific Post

 

Published in Commentary
Wednesday, 10 August 2016 01:53

Leave Race out of the Real Estate Debate

Commentary by Farid Rohani in Vancouver

We don’t blame all Arabs every time OPEC (Organization of Petroleum Exporting Countries) pushes up (or down!) the price of a litre of gas. We don’t blame Mexicans if fruit prices go up or the Japanese when B.C. lumber mills close for lack of demand. We accept the free market principles of supply and demand and we deal with price fluctuations as best we can.

So why do we blame immigrants, and specifically the Chinese, for spiking real estate prices when the real problem is lack of supply and increasing demand?

It’s a dangerous tendency, and one that threatens to undermine the very ideals of citizenship and plurality that have made Canada so admired around the world. Our country’s heritage includes every ethnicity on earth. The principles that define us as Canadians include those of dignity and kindness, tolerance and compassion. The elements that underpin our democracy include a respect for liberty, for freedom of movement and for the potential of a market driven economy under the rule of law.

But these principles and values are not guiding the current discussion. Instead we see outbursts of ignorant emotionalism and incipient racism.

It’s important, first, to define the immediate problem. The economic power of recent immigrants and foreign purchasers has showcased excessive economic advantage while denying many the ability to be part of a vibrant, growing cosmopolitan city. Many of the young people and professionals who make up our city’s core are feeling frustrated by our failure to find a solution to affordable housing.

Yet, instead of working together to address the challenges of inequity, many are retreating to the more familiar ground of racial accusations. They use the seeming intractability of these problems to build scapegoats. Even people who may have been acting in goodwill have been guilty of launching dubious studies that rely on selective facts and the dangerous sweep of ethnic stereotyping.

In an age when terrorism is also a serious social issue, and when certain people have chosen to target ethnicity or religion in that conversation, this raises a risk that I feel personally. I, who have been proud to call Canada my home for more than four decades, have an Arabic name — one that might easily become part of a database of potential security targets, not for anything I have done, but merely because of my heritage.

This is a perversion of the Canadian experiment, and one we must deal with quickly, and together. We cannot promote prejudice against any racial or ethnic group without betraying ourselves. The vitriolic accusations against “others” can lead only to hate and a division that will harm us all.

We need a solution, of the sort that can only be found through joint action. We cannot continue to speak from both sides of our mouths, on the one hand promising economic hope and jobs, while at the same time isolating recent immigrants and visitors from normal social intercourse based on mutual respect.

Certainly, government must be forceful in addressing issues such as the disruptive influence of laundered money. At the same time, we must all stay focused on the economic principles of a liberal democracy, of supply and demand. We must remember the values of immigration and the benefits of building a progressive society in which people of diverse backgrounds can live and prosper together as members of one city and country.

This responsibility rests upon all levels of government, as well as upon community leaders and the media. All must work together to refresh the spirit of optimism, while rejecting any narrative where facts are manipulated to become food for racist agitators or dismissive special interest groups.

The only way to resolve deep social and economic problems is by forging a unity of purpose.

Racism has deep roots. Without a conscious, deliberate, and sustained effort, we are all at risk from its destructive influences. It can only be overcome through open dialogue and close association among those of opposing points of view.

So, I address this appeal to all — politicians, pundits and community leaders: the realization of our collective potential depends on the character and initiative of every individual. No action plan can succeed if leaders fail respond in their own capacity. I respectfully and urgently call upon my fellow Vancouverites of whatever background to look at current real estate situation with new eyes and with a new resolve to set ethnicity aside — to embrace all of your neighbours, new and old, in the search for a lasting solution.

Farid Rohani is a life member of The Laurier Institution.

Published under arrangement with the Asian Pacific Post

Read Original Article

Published in Commentary

Commentary by Don Curry in North Bay

Critics are looking at Quebec’s so-called “sweetheart deal” on immigrant investors the wrong way.

Instead of complaining about Quebec other provinces and territories should be demanding equality.

A June 23 article by Peter O’Neil in the Vancouver Sun  noted Quebec struck its deal in 1991, when the sovereignty movement was strong.

Quebec had the bargaining chips, certainly, but what is stopping other regions of Canada that would benefit from an immigrant investor program -- Northern Ontario, the Maritimes and the territories come to mind -- from opening talks with the federal government?

The federal immigrant investor program had its critics, who called it a “cash for citizenship” scheme, and it was cancelled in 2014. There were also reports of fraud. Montreal, Toronto and Vancouver didn’t need the program but it would be a huge economic and social impetus for the regions mentioned above, that are starving for increased immigration and economic investment.

Surely smart bureaucrats could modify the Quebec program so that it fits the needs of other regions of the country.

Regional development

In Northern Ontario, the region of the country I’m most familiar with, a program that attracts foreign investors for an $800,000 financial commitment, with a $200,000 down payment, would go a long way toward municipal and regional infrastructure programs.

The Ring of Fire project, long dormant but with billions of dollars’ worth of metals sitting in the ground, would benefit significantly as a joint regional economic development project.

We are talking billions in investment through such a program. Two thousand immigrant investors for Northern Ontario at $800,000 each is an awful lot of money. Even if some left Northern Ontario to live elsewhere and forfeited their $200,000 deposit, it is still an awful of money.

Bureaucrats and politicians are saying they can’t force permanent residents to live in specific regions, because once they have that status they can live anywhere in Canada. But what is stopping them from creating incentives to live in designated areas?

That’s how the prairies were settled.

Housing prices

Insane housing prices in Vancouver are partially blamed on Chinese immigrant investors moving from Quebec.

More to the point, the blame can be laid at the feet of the Vancouver real estate industry and its unscrupulous practices, detailed in a Globe and Mail investigation.

Premier Christy Clark, fed up with 10 years of lack of self-regulation in the industry, has created a government oversight body. 

Northern Ontario, to name one region, is being short-changed in the number of immigrants landing here and, as a result, the immigrant settlement funds allocated. While almost half of the immigrants to Canada land in Ontario, one-tenth of one per cent landed in Northern Ontario in 2011-12.

Northern Ontario has a higher population than New Brunswick.  This statistic is from a 2015 study by Western University professor Dr. Michael Haan and Elena Prokopenko, completed for the Far Northeast Training Board, based in Hearst, Ontario.

Declining populations

While the Greater Toronto Area is bursting at the seams, the northern part of Ontario is experiencing population stagnation or decline. An immigrant investor program would provide a significant boost. Immigrants now in Northern Ontario are secondary migrants from the GTA, mainly, or other parts of Canada.

Immigrant investors would be inclined to stay in the north (North Bay and Sudbury are less than a four-hour drive to Toronto) where opportunities abound, there are good schools and no congestion. A recent phenomenon is immigrant entrepreneurs moving to Northern Ontario to purchase businesses. (I will soon be embarking on a research project to document the movement of immigrant entrepreneurs to nine Northeastern Ontario municipalities.)

There are more than 70 first generation immigrant-owned businesses in North Bay, most of them having moved from the GTA. Once they live here, they stay and raise families. A lasting legacy of former Ontario Premier Mike Harris, who is from North Bay, is a four-lane highway all the way to Toronto.

Call it social engineering if you like, but there has been very little done by the federal government and the provinces to entice immigrants to settle where they are needed. Montreal, Toronto, Vancouver and Ottawa continue to dominate the immigration discussion. We are long overdue for change.

Background: Quebec Immigrant Investor Program

Don Curry is the president of Curry Consulting (www.curryconsulting.ca) He was the founding executive director of the North Bay & District Multicultural Centre and Timmins & District Multicultural Centre and now serves as a board member. 

Published in Commentary
Saturday, 09 April 2016 12:17

Name Calling in Vancouver

Commentary by Will Tao in Vancouver, British Columbia

The foreign-ownership and housing affordability debate is currently the most reported and talked about socio-political issue in the City of Vancouver.

Truthfully, for those of us who care immensely about this city’s future, it is not an easy conversation. Regardless of partisan politics or ethnic background or even financial wealth, few would disagree that some form of a solution is needed urgently to address the growing concern of working class Vancouver families and professionals.

Browsing through the foreign ownership studies and anecdotal stories over the past year, I cannot help but feel very conflicted on a personal level. I am a young lawyer in Vancouver, earning a decent salary. However, when I subtract my expenses and debts, I too could become someone who will be renting in Vancouver, living paycheck to paycheck with no guarantee of any future ownership prospects.

Yet, I am fortunate. I am painfully aware that many families with young children cannot even afford rent, let alone food or clothing.

The west side

My interpretation of the foreign ownership debate is influenced by my self-identification as a Chinese-Canadian born in Canada. I have lived at home much of my life. My home happens to be on the much-discussed west side of Vancouver.

My parents, both naturalized Canadian citizens, immigrated to Canada from China in the late 80’s, carrying with them non-anglicized names that they never changed. In fact, my legal name is itself non-anglicized (the Chinese name comes first). According to current ‘name-analysis’ study methods, my parents would be classified as foreign owners even though they have been Canadian citizens for over two decades.

According to current ‘name-analysis’ study methods, my parents would be classified as foreign owners even though they have been Canadian citizens for over two decades.

I can also anecdotally report that there are many families like mine all across the city: Asian-Canadian families that have been in this country long enough that the tag of “foreign” should not logically apply. Yet, I have also noticed a trend of more recent arrivals.

However, many of these individuals, too, are legally Canadian. They hold permanent resident cards; many of them have also obtained citizenship, and aside from the length of time spent here, they are as Canadian as you and I. This begs the question, what separates a foreign owner from a Canadian owner? Can we even tell the difference?

Media narrative

I suggest that the current media narrative is incomplete. My story of how we ended up on the west side, living in homes that are now valued at over a million dollars, does not square with the current brouhaha around "wealth and investment". 

As second-generation Canadians or Canadians who arrived in their early years, or, in some cases, in late high school, our families worked long hours, multiple jobs, and moved from basement to basement. My parents, like many other immigrant parents, sacrificed their own material well-being, rarely taking family vacations and working full-time jobs, to be able to afford a house in Vancouver.

Many of our parents successfully started businesses in Canada, often taking risks after periods of under-employment or under-recognition in the mainstream economy. They gave their businesses ethnic-sounding names to honour their immigrant roots or their intended client base. These businesses often focused on export-import, providing language-specific services, including a global trade element.

These businesses, along with immigration to Vancouver, flourished in the late 90’s and early 2000’s. Ironically, some of these businesses (restaurants, consultancies, and sole proprietorships) are the very ‘Canadian’ ones newspaper columns and some community commentators are targetting for carrying ethnic names.

"Astronaut families"

Another trend among these families is that several of them (my late father included) had a family member return to China to pursue economic opportunity. On paper, this may sound like an “astronaut family,” a term that has taken on a somewhat derogatory tone for the “over privileged” children and wives that the parent supposedly left behind.

However, for a majority of families that I know, economic opportunity, leadership positions and a salary more in keeping with what they deserved, were beyond reach, leading them to take the life-altering decision to leave Vancouver. Working abroad in global companies that respected their ability to understand both cultures, doubled and tripled their compensation and even more importantly, rewarded them with management positions.

My parents, like many other immigrant parents, sacrificed their own material well-being, rarely taking family vacations and working full-time jobs, to be able to afford a house in Vancouver.

Ironically, my generation (similar to my parents' generation) is now facing similar challenges in the local job market. The Toronto Star recently reported on how having a “non-anglicized name” or “ethnic resume” has led to challenges obtaining employment.

It is no surprise that with these barriers many Canadian-born and -raised graduates and professionals are pursuing career opportunities overseas, earning higher incomes. Many of these individuals are returning to Vancouver when they are financially stable, buying condos and houses, partners and children in tow.

The problem then becomes, who are these so-called “foreign-owners”? In my opinion, it cannot be as simple as searching up non-anglicized names in a real estate registry. Any attempts to levy taxes or penalties must inevitably transcend race, ethnicity, and country of origin to be consistent with fundamental Canadian values and rights.

Will Tao is a Canadian Immigration Lawyer at Larlee Rosenberg, Barristers and Solicitors, in Vancouver, British Columbia. He is also a director at New Canadian Media.


This content was developed exclusively for New Canadian Media and can be re-published with appropriate attribution. For syndication rights, please write to publisher@newcanadianmedia.ca

Published in Commentary

by Tazeen Inam in Mississauga

Canada’s falling loonie has added extra dollars to the pockets of residents who rely on financial assistance from abroad. 

Foreign investors in real estate and local exporters are also enjoying benefits from the dip in our dollar, which is at its lowest level since the spring of 2003, and expected to go lower, as analysts forecast the loonie could lose another 10 cents. 

The loonie dropped just under $0.70 U.S. at the beginning of the year, reaching 69.9 cents on January 12. 

Added cash in hand 

Azra Riffat, a retired officer from Pakistan, lives in Toronto and is enjoying the benefits of the low dollar. 

Riffat immigrated to Canada 10 years ago. Unable to work because of her responsibilities at home, caring for her 80-year-old mother, Riffat receives support from her siblings who transfer money to her account for their mother’s medical and household expenses. 

“My sister is in the UK and brother in the U.S.,” says Riffat. “They cannot physically take care of our mother, so they send in money.” 

“The lower Canadian dollar only benefits wealthier individuals who have resources to transfer [funds] to Canada."

Over the past 12 months, the Canadian dollar has lost 15 per cent of its value against the U.S. Because the majority of the funds transferred to Canada are in U.S. dollars, this means up to an additional $45 for every $100 US converted to Canadian currency. 

“Last month when I checked the quote on an exchange rate of selling $100 US to buy Canadian dollars, it was 144.50,” says Riffat. 

Immigrants often come to Canada as families, but men sometimes return to their countries of origin because they are unable to find work. In other cases, men with high-paying positions in other countries move their families to Canada to give their children a more promising future. These are some of the families who are benefiting from the current exchange rate. 

“The lower Canadian dollar only benefits wealthier individuals who have resources to transfer [funds] to Canada, provided that [the funds come from] countries where the local currency is also in high value,” says Mustafa Koc, professor of sociology at Ryerson University in Toronto. 

Similarly, new immigrants who relocated to Canada during the past year have the added advantage of being able to stretch their savings for a longer period, compared to those who settled before, adds Majid Kazmi, a banker and immigrant from the Middle East. 

Good for real estate 

The low currency this year, complemented by low interest rates, creates an optimal situation for immigrants buying homes and foreign investors alike, as their buying power in the Canadian housing market has increased, particularly in Vancouver and Toronto, says Wayne Ryan, Managing Broker at Remax-Vancouver. 

“Vancouver’s high-end properties are not flying off the shelf,” says Ryan, but explains that detached homes, which can cost anywhere between $3 and $5 million, are popular among foreign investors. 

Canada is seen as a “safe-haven” for foreign capital and the falling currency helps to further encourage it.

Some potential buyers are able to take advantage of liquidating their assets in their countries of origin and investing in the Canadian real estate market. Analysts like Eytan Lasry, who teaches in the business department at Toronto’s York University, suggest that Canada is seen as a “safe-haven” for foreign capital and the falling currency helps to further encourage it. 

Lasry adds that the best thing for both home buyers and investors is the low interest rates – which may sink even lower – as they make debt manageable. 

“It’s a global economy,” he explains. “When money goes low, you attract more, topped with low interest rates makes the debt servicing easy.” 

Exporters tap gains 

Canadian businesses, including those in food and consumer product industries, that export to the U.S. are also enjoying the extra profit because of the lower exchange rate. 

In a 2014 report, Moody’s Investors Service stated that the Canadian dollar depreciation is a positive for many Canadian industries, such as pulp and wood products. 

“Their costs are in Canadian dollars and their revenues are coming from abroad in currencies that are better off.”

Also, small businesses that export services, like catering and trucking to the U.S. and Mexico, tend to gain from the falling loonie. 

“Their costs are in Canadian dollars and their revenues are coming from abroad in currencies that are better off,” explains Kazmi. 

Fuzail Ata Pirzada, who migrated from the UK 16 years ago, runs a catering business in Mississauga. He provides service to Asian-themed functions and festivals in the U.S. too, close to the border. 

“I am paid in U.S. dollars, but the cost of the vegetables and meat has also increased in Canada, which offsets my profits,” he says. He adds that during winter, business slows down, but he is hoping to reap the benefit of the low dollar when spring arrives, and the wedding season begins. 

“It’s a good time to invest in the Canadian export industry, with a controlled cost of production on manufacturing and producing goods, and enjoy the pricing advantage later,” Kazmi suggests. 

As the Bank of Canada Governor, Stephen Poloz, has said repeatedly, the loonie is a casualty of the falling price of oil. He says it could take three years for Canada to work through the economic issues that are currently driving its dollar down.

This content was developed exclusively for New Canadian Media and can be re-published with appropriate attribution. For syndication rights, please write to publisher@newcanadianmedia.ca

Published in Economy

by Leah Bjornson (@leahjuneb) in Vancouver, British Columbia

New promises by the governing federal Conservatives to investigate the relationship between rising housing prices and foreign investment in Vancouver may resonate with local voters this fall, but experts aren’t convinced that this issue is as dire as it is being made out to be.

Set against a backdrop of downtown skyscrapers and portside businesses, Stephen Harper addressed a North Vancouver crowd earlier this month, pledging to collect data on foreign home ownership.

“There are real concerns that foreign, non-resident real estate speculation is the reason some Canadian families find house prices beyond their budgets,’’ Harper said.

“If such foreign non-resident buyers are artificially driving up the cost of real estate, and Canadian families are shut out of the market, that is a matter we can and should do something about.’’

However, for the Mayor of the city in which Harper made his announcement, this is a non-issue.

“I’m not convinced that [foreign ownership makes up] a large percentage,” said North Vancouver Mayor Darrell Mussatto. “Almost everyone I talk to – people I meet, local homeowners who are buying and selling homes – foreign ownership is not a big component of the people I’m dealing with.”

“It kind of surprises me that a government that got rid of the long-form census would now be interested in finding out who’s owning property.”

Instead, he feels that this announcement is rooted in political motivations and strategic timing. “It’s a political issue. It’s all politics. It’s got nothing to do with good policy,” Mussatto stated.

Given the upcoming federal elections this fall, speculation is that this announcement is timed to win votes with a local community that has been dealing with this ongoing issue for years.

“If [Stephen Harper] felt that way, why didn’t he do it (collect this data)? He’s been in power for eight years, why didn’t he do it?” Mussatto posited. “It kind of surprises me that a government that got rid of the long-form census would now be interested in finding out who’s owning property.”

Where the province stands

Contrary to Harper’s concerns that non-resident buyers might be driving up housing prices, the provincial government has a history of actively encouraging foreign investors to buy in British Columbia.

Just this year, Premier Christy Clark cautioned against limiting foreign investment in the province, raising concerns that restrictions in B.C. “could backfire.”

“We shouldn’t have guesses. We shouldn’t have intuition.”

Clark cited Ministry of Finance data, which suggested that there is little evidence of wealthy or foreign investors driving housing unaffordability in the city.

“There is a perception that foreign investors and speculators are driving an affordability crisis in residential real estate – particularly in Greater Vancouver. The data we have does not support this perception,” the analysis said.

This view mirrors Mussato’s understanding of the amount of foreign investment in the city.

While he admits that his experience is mainly limited to the North Shore, Mussatto stressed the need for concrete information before any policy decisions are made that might limit investment.

“We shouldn’t have guesses. We shouldn’t have intuition,” he said.

Many residents ‘seriously considering leaving’

Nevertheless, the intuition of many Vancouverites is that foreign ownership is indeed a large and growing problem in the city.

Earlier this year, the Angus Reid Institute conducted an online survey among Metro Vancouver adults to investigate the effects, causes and possible solutions to housing problems in the city.

It found that a majority of Metro Vancouver adults surveyed felt that foreign buyers and wealthy investors were to blame for driving up the price of homes in the region.

“If you cannot go and get into a housing market, then it doesn’t make you necessarily want to stay here.”

What’s more, the poll found that only 21 per cent of residents were happy about their current housing situation, while 45 per cent said that they were uncomfortable or miserable.

Of the 18 per cent who described themselves as miserable, 85 per cent said they are “seriously considering leaving” the region because of its high housing prices.

These frustrations reached a climax earlier this year, when more than 17,000 people signed a petition urging the province to restrict overseas investment in Vancouver real estate.

Penny Gurstein, a professor and Director of the School of Community and Regional Planning at University of British Columbia, has a theory about these frustrations.

“If you cannot go and get into a housing market, then it doesn’t make you necessarily want to stay here,” she said.

Gurstein, who is currently investigating strategies for affordable homeownership and rental housing both internationally and in Canada, said that anecdotal evidence suggests that foreign ownership is an issue in the city.

“But until we actually have measured data on this,” she explained, “we’re not going to be able to understand the issue.”


Published in partnership with Asian Pacific Post

 

Published in Economy

Editor’s note: China’s newly rich, and even its middle class, have been seeking safe places to invest their money. In the current environment of economic...

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Epoch Times

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Published in Economy

Chandigarh:  Having made his millions in the Canadian real estate market, Canada’s first Sikh billionaire, Bob Dhillon, feels India’s real estate market has a lot of potential if the government makes the right moves.

“The Indian real estate market is a developer’s dream. It is fascinating. It can be the No.1 market for growth,” Dhillon, who has charted an amazing success story for himself by becoming the biggest landlord in Canada with nearly 10,000 properties, commented.

The Weekly Voice

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Published in India
Wednesday, 06 August 2014 01:01

Purchasing Power: Dhaka vs Vancouver

 This week's excerpt compares homes of a similar size and value in Bangladesh and Vancouver 

Asian Pacific Post

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Published in Economy
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