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Liberals’ mortgage help for first-time buyers lands Sept. 2, weeks before vote

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OTTAWA — A new federal program aiming to give homebuyers some help covering their mortgage costs will kick in on Labour Day — weeks before a federal election — with the first payments flowing in early November, just days after voters across Canada go to the polls.

The Liberals unveiled details Monday of the $1.25-billion plan, which will see the government take an equity stake in thousands of homes to ease mortgage costs for qualified buyers.

The rules of the program would allow previous homeowners to qualify under certain conditions, permit the purchase of a building with up to four units, and help with a maximum purchase price of $565,000, based on government calculations.

The program will begin taking applications on Sept. 2, days before what is expected to be the official start of a federal election campaign where the cost of living — including housing affordability — is shaping up as a central issue. 

The first payments would flow on Nov. 1,  two weeks after election day on Oct. 21.

Government officials said Sept. 2 was the earliest possible start date, while the minister in charge brushed off the suggestion that the governing Liberals hope to use the launch date for partisan gains.

“If we look at what we’ve done since Day 1, housing investments have been key in all four federal budgets since 2016,” Social Development Minister Jean-Yves Duclos said in an interview.

“Every one of the federal budgets in those four years has included significant measures around housing affordability and, look, we’ll continue to do so. We’re not going to be stopped because there is an election coming.”

The first-come, first-served program will see federal funds pick up five per cent of a mortgage on existing homes for households that earn under $120,000 a year, on a mortgage of no more than $480,000. The value increases to up to 10 per cent for new homes to spur construction and expand supply to avoid heating housing prices.

There isn’t any interest on the money, but a buyer would have to repay it in full when they sell their house or after 25 years of living in the home. An early repayment carries no penalties.

If the value of the home goes up, so too does the amount of money owed to federal coffers. The opposite will be the case if the value of a home goes down.

Federal officials said there isn’t a specific policy on what to do with any profits — some organizations that already provide these “shared-equity mortgages” use windfalls to expand their offerings — so the extra cash will for now flow back into the government’s general revenue pool.

The officials provided the information during a briefing for reporters on the condition that they not be identified by name.

The government estimates that some 100,000 new buyers could be helped by the program. Depending on the interest for it, the next government could be forced into a decision: increase spending at risk of boosting demand and heating prices, or stand pat and exclude buyers.

Liberal efforts to make housing more affordable will be back in the spotlight on Tuesday when the parliamentary budget officer releases a report scrutinizing federal spending in the area.

Jordan Press, The Canadian Press


Alberta

Orange Shirt Day – Acknowledging the Lasting Legacy of the Canadian Residential School System

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The year 2020 marks the 24th anniversary of the final closure of the last operating Canadian residential school, located in Punnichy, Saskatchewan, in the year 1996. 

Originally established in the late 1800’s, more than 130 residential schools operated across Canada for over 120 years. During this time, more than 150,000 First Nations, Metis and Inuit children were forcibly removed from their homes and placed into the schools (1). 

Jointly operated by the Government of Canada and religious organizations across the nation, the residential school system was a violent and corrupt approach towards the total assimilation of Indigenous children and the ultimate erasure of Indigenous culture. The methods used by the schools to pursue this goal, as officially documented by the Canadian Truth and Reconciliation Commission (CTRC), were abhorrent acts of violence and humiliation against children that would raise a legacy of trauma and pain spanning generations. 

The exact number of children who died during their time at the residential schools remains unclear, but is estimated to be greater than 6000 (2). The CRTC documents that many students succumbed to disease and malnourishment exacerbated by abysmal living conditions, while others died as a result of abuse and experimentation. Records show many children perished in fires when a number of schools burned down over the years, and others died by suicide, or while trying to escape (3).  

“Children were abused, physically and sexually, and they died in numbers that would not have been tolerated in any school system in the country, or in the world.” Summary of the Final Report of the Truth and Reconciliation Commission of Canada (4)

Since the final closure of the residential schools in 1996, steps towards national reconciliation – such as the launch of the Canadian Truth and Reconciliation Commission in 2008 – have been based in the acknowledgement and commemoration of the painful legacy of the schools across Canada. The documentation, preservation and dissemination of the residential school experience as told by the survivors is essential to understanding and accepting the implications of this dark and extensive period in Canadian history. 

Among many ongoing discussions and dedications to the survivors and victims of the Canadian residential Schools, Orange Shirt Day is an annual recognition of the ongoing pursuit of reconciliation and affirmation in Canada. 

Orange Shirt Day was born in Williams Lake, BC in May 2013 as a legacy of the St. Joseph Residential School Commemoration Project and Reunion. The project was founded by former student Esketemc (Alkali Lake) Chief Fred Robbins in an effort to bring together those whose lives had been negatively impacted by the schools. Specifically, “Events were designed to commemorate the residential school experience, to witness and honor the healing journey of the survivors and their families, and to commit to the ongoing process of reconciliation” (5).

Orange Shirt Day was founded as a result of the St. Joseph project, when former student and spokesperson for the Reunion group, Phyllis (Jack) Webstad, shared the experience of her first day at the residential school, “when her shiny new orange shirt, bought by her grandmother, was taken from her as a six-year old girl” (6).  

September 30th was chosen as the annual Orange Shirt Day to coincide with the returning school year, and to commemorate the time of year in which children were originally taken from their homes to attend the residential schools. 

On September 30, 2019, The National Centre for Truth and Reconciliation (NCTR) hosted a ceremony in honor of Orange Shirt Day at the Canadian Museum of History in Gatineau, Quebec. A list commemorating the names of 2,800 Indigenous children who died while attending the residential schools was presented on a 50-metre-long-ceremonial cloth. This ceremony represented an important first step, according to the NCTR, however, there is still a long way to go towards the proper recognition and memorialization of all who were lost to the schools. 

Since 2013, Orange Shirt Day has continued to foster ongoing investigation and dialogue surrounding the history and lasting legacy of the residential school system within the Canadian historical landscape. It is a public call to listen, share, and remember those who suffered and now carry the lasting wounds of the government mandated Canadian residential school system, as well as those who never returned home at all. 

 

For more stories, visit Todayville Calgary.

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PETER SUTHERLAND SR GENERATING STATION POWERS NORTHEAST ONTARIO

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PETER SUTHERLAND SR GENERATING STATION POWERS NORTHEAST ONTARIO

On the Abitibi River in northeastern Ontario, the Peter Sutherland Sr. Generating Station (GS) powers 25,000 homes and businesses with renewable waterpower. The development was a partnership between Ontario Power Generation (OPG) and Coral Rapids Power: a wholly-owned company of the Taykwa Tagamou Nation (TTN). The development is named after a respected elder from TTN. The $300-million project was completed in 2017.

On the Abitibi River in northeastern Ontario, almost two years of construction and eight years of planning have culminated in a new hydroelectric station capable of powering 25,000 homes and businesses with clean, renewable, and affordable power.

The 28-megawatt (MW) Peter Sutherland Sr. Generating Station (GS), located about 80 kilometres north of the town of Smooth Rock Falls on the New Post Creek, went into service on April 2017, well ahead of its scheduled 2018 target. In addition, the $300- million project stayed on budget.

That’s a testament to the solid planning and execution between OPG and its partner in the  development,  Coral  Rapids  Power, a wholly-owned company of the Taykwa Tagamou Nation (TTN). The development, which is named after a respected elder from TTN, has already had a positive impact on the First Nation community.

“We had about 50 TTN members working on the project at one point or another, which was significant for our First Nation partner,” said Paul Burroughs, Project Director at OPG. “They were part of the project team working to help make this a success.”

As part of the project agreement, Coral Rapids Power has a one-third ownership in the facility, meaning they will receive a share of profits from the station and be a partner for life over the 90 or so years the plant  is expected to operate. As TTN’s first foray into hydro development, the project took several decades to get off the ground before the First Nation agreed to partner with OPG in 2007 as part of a past grievances settlement. Construction of the station began in 2015.

Construction work on the Peter Sutherland Sr. Generating Station

The project provides the TTN community with a long-term investment opportunity and a sustainable economic base. Further, it provides spinoff benefits for the entire northeast region.

“The relationship we’ve built with OPG is based on a foundation of respect, trust, and all working toward a common goal,” said Wayne Ross, President of Coral Rapids Power. “There have been many benefits from this project for our community, including good-paying jobs, transferable skills and a long-term revenue stream.”

In addition, approximately $53.5 million in subcontracts were awarded to TTN joint- venture businesses during the construction phase of the station.

“The partnership is about creating a lifelong relationship with the First Nation,” said Burroughs.

The project has created skilled jobs and unique learning opportunities benefitting TTN members who will pursue work in a range of different career fields. Labour needs included engineers, equipment operators, labourers, drillers, cement workers, ironworkers, electricians, welders, carpenters, and camp support services.

At the peak of construction, there were about 220 workers employed on the project, many of whom reside in the local community.

“Our partnership is about more than just megawatts,” said Mike Martelli, President, Renewable Generation. “It’s also about creating skilled jobs and ongoing revenue that will benefit this community for years to come.”

In addition to the direct employment opportunities, existing local businesses and the regional economy benefitted from contracting work, as well as local project purchasing and expenditures. The estimated sales multiplier associated with the project is $1.50 – that is for every dollar expended an additional $0.50 was spent in northern Ontario.

The new station is operated by OPG’s northeastern operations control room in Timmins and is maintained by technicians located at a nearby work centre at Abitibi Canyon.

Inside the completed Peter Sutherland Sr. Generating Station

Peter Sutherland Sr. GS is the latest asset in OPG’s clean energy portfolio, which includes successful joint ventures with other First Nations. In early 2015, OPG and the Moose Cree First Nation celebrated the completion of the Lower Mattagami Hydroelectric Project, northern Ontario’s largest hydroelectric project in 50 years.

Ontario’s 58 northeastern hydroelectric facilities provide a clean, renewable, and reliable source of power to Ontarians year- round. Their combined capacity is over 3,000 MW.

Thanks to Todayville for helping us bring our members’ stories of collaboration and innovation to the public.

Click to read a foreward from JP Gladu, Chief Development and Relations Officer, Steel River Group; Former President and CEO, Canadian Council for Aboriginal Business.

JP Gladu, Chief Development and Relations Officer, Steel
River Group; Former President & CEO, Canadian Council for Aboriginal Business

Click to read comments about this series from Jacob Irving, President of the Energy Council of Canada.

Jacob Irving, President of Energy Council of Canada

The Canadian Energy Compendium is an annual initiative by the Energy Council of Canada to provide an opportunity for cross-sectoral collaboration and discussion on current topics in Canada’s energy sector.  The 2020 Canadian Energy Compendium: Innovations in Energy Efficiency is due to be released November 2020.

 

Click below to read more stories from Energy Council of Canada’s Compendium series.

INDIGENOUS CONSULTATION AND ENGAGEMENT AT CANADA’S ENERGY AND UTILITY REGULATORS

COASTAL GASLINK PIPELINE PROJECT SETS NEW STANDARD WITH UNPRECEDENTED INDIGENOUS SUPPORT AND PARTICIPATION

Hydro-Québec takes partnerships, environmental measures and sharing of wealth to new levels

Read more on Todayville.

 

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