Editorials - April 1
Living in a bubble
Statistics are now confirming what we’ve seen happening. Real estate markets are overheated and “highly vulnerable to a price correction” in many markets, according to a report last week by the Canada Mortgage and Housing Corporation. The research didn’t even look at small towns or rural areas that have seen housing costs escalate in recent years.
We have watched urban real estate soar, especially in hot markets like Toronto and Vancouver, without thinking that it would ever stretch this far. With limited inventory for sale and an increase in the number of buyers who can work from home, “blind bidding” has driven most properties in our area to fetch far above the asking prices.
On top of the high real estate prices, young families are also feeling the pinch in the rental markets. Landlords are either asking exorbitant rents to cover these highly valued properties or turning their rental units to short-term accommodation such as Airbnb units, which give a high return on their investment without the hassle of long-term tenants.
Canadians are already living with one of the highest consumer debt-to-income ratios, largely due to our housing costs, leaving many in a precarious position should interest rates rise.
The recent rapid rise in house prices may or may not be a bubble and it may or may not burst in the near future, but it has certainly put a strain on families, especially younger ones just starting out. Let’s hope that the market finds its level on its own without interventions like interest rate hikes or taxing the capital gains on principal residences. – DS
Mo’ money mo’ problems
While many have struggled to pay bills and keep revenue flowing throughout the COVID-19 pandemic, here in Canada our various levels of government have taken step after step to help soften the blow. Justin Trudeau’s federal government was quick to enact the Canada Emergency Response Benefit (CERB) and many other programs to support small businesses that faced closure or drastically reduced revenue. Doug Ford and the provincial government have done the same, enacting program after program aimed at keeping the province’s economy robust.
It’s safe to say most Ontarians have seen the benefit of these programs in one way or another. And while our economy has fared rather well in the face of the pandemic, it was sobering to see that the provincial government is projecting deficits until at least the end of the decade that just began as a result of pandemic spending. And while the federal government hasn’t come out with it directly, it’s safe to assume the country’s books will be in similar shape for years to come.
“It’s clear we have spared no expense to defeat COVID-19,” Ontario’s Finance Minister Peter Bethlenfalvy said to the legislature as he presented the new budget. And while that could be up for debate, the position in which our upper levels of government find themselves cannot be unexpected. The pandemic hit and they opened the public coffers to ensure we could pay bills, stay in our homes and put food on the table.
This is a reminder that there is no money tree and while we may agree with the governments’ response, it comes at a cost. As Ontarians and Canadians we will be paying off this bill for quite some time as the cost of keeping ourselves afloat during this unprecedented time. – SL
The cross-border mindset
Last week, the Supreme Court of Canada determined, as part of a ruling that the federal government can impose carbon tax requirements on provinces, that climate change is real. Whether people agree with the decision or not is important, but not as important as the fact that the court did something important: it ignored borders.
The members of the Supreme Court stated that climate change is a worldwide threat and that, because of the magnitude of it, the federal government can implement changes like the national carbon tax plan.
While climate change is a clear and present danger, whether Canada should react as a nation or as provinces could be debated. What can’t be debated, however, is that the reaction needs to be unilateral, and our local politicians could learn a thing or two from that kind of mindset.
Whether it’s North Huron and Morris-Turnberry’s debate over cross-border servicing, fire department mergers of over a decade ago or Morris-Turnberry’s failed drive to create its own fire department, Huron County is divided by borders that are nothing but lines on a map.
When Huron County and its municipalities start looking at things on a broader scale, everyone can benefit. Fire coverage wouldn’t need to be debated and infrastructure could be handled at a higher level, nipping heated cross-border disputes in the bud.
Like the Supreme Court, Huron County’s politicians need to realize that, as much as they need to be responsible to their own ratepayers, no municipality will thrive without the help of its neighbours. That’s a lesson the people of Huron County have known for years and it’s time our municipal leaders were reminded of it. – JDS