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New report highlights housing affordability challenges across Canada

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From the Frontier Centre for Public Policy

By Wendell Cox

The year 2022 marked a concerning increase in “severely unaffordable” housing markets, extending beyond the scope of the six major markets.

The Frontier Centre for Public Policy’s Demographia Housing Affordability in Canada report, released today, cast a spotlight on the pressing issue of housing affordability in Canada. This comprehensive report offers a detailed analysis of middle-income housing affordability during the third quarter of 2022, focusing on 46 housing markets referred to as census metropolitan areas.

The report goes beyond the conventional analysis of property prices, delving into the intricate interplay between house prices and income. Price-to-income ratios, a crucial metric for assessing housing affordability, have gained global recognition. Esteemed institutions, including the World Bank, United Nations, OECD, and IMF, have endorsed this measurement. The Frontier Centre for Public Policy’s housing affordability index adopts a similar approach, utilizing the “median multiple” calculation. This calculation involves dividing the median house price by pre-tax median household income.

The report sheds light on the historical context of housing affordability within Canada’s six major markets – Vancouver, Calgary, Edmonton, Toronto, Montreal, and Ottawa – each with populations surpassing one million. The period from 1970 to the mid-2000s witnessed relative stability in the housing affordability landscape. However, by 2005, Vancouver’s market initiated a significant shift towards unaffordability, a trend that has only intensified since the mid-2000s.

The year 2022 marked a concerning increase in “severely unaffordable” housing markets, extending beyond the scope of the six major markets. The number of severely unaffordable markets surged from 18 in 2019 to 24 among the surveyed 46 markets. In contrast, the count of “affordable” markets dwindled from eight in 2019 to a mere three.

The advent of remote work, or “telecommuting” during the pandemic led to a surge in households seeking more spacious living spaces. This surge in demand outpaced supply, resulting in a “demand shock” that further exacerbated the challenges of housing affordability.

The epicentre of unaffordable housing primarily lies in British Columbia and Ontario. Notably, Vancouver and Toronto emerged as the most severely unaffordable major markets, ranking third and 10th least affordable among 94 markets in Demographia’s International Housing Affordability Report 2022. This phenomenon extended beyond Vancouver, impacting other markets in British Columbia. Similarly, the trend reached markets beyond Toronto, prompting a net interprovincial migration as households pursued more affordable housing options.

Amidst these challenges, four markets – Moose Jaw (SK), Fort McMurray (AB), Saguenay (QC), and Fredericton (NB) – have managed to uphold their affordability. The Canadian housing market faces intensified scrutiny, with analyses highlighting the formidable task of addressing the nation’s housing crisis. This includes restoring affordability and enabling home ownership amidst obstacles such as the scale of the issue and the capacity of the home-building sector.

At the heart of the crisis lies urban containment regulation, which has driven land prices to unsustainable levels, constraining housing supply for middle income households. This scenario arises from the deliberate intent of urban containment policies to inflate land prices. Disparities in land costs across markets play a pivotal role in housing affordability disparities. Government policies, like urban containment, unintentionally contribute to government-induced inequality by inflating land prices. Practical alternatives exist to revitalize housing affordability.

Migration to more affordable housing markets has become a priority for many, as evidenced by an unprecedented population shift away from major metropolitan areas towards regions with more affordable housing options. Ensuring affordability remains in these markets is pivotal. Neglecting this could lead to replicating the ongoing affordability crisis in regions that are currently more affordable, which could limit opportunities for future generations and impact Canada’s attractiveness as an international migration destination.

About the Frontier Centre for Public Policy The Frontier Centre for Public Policy is an independent, non-partisan think tank that conducts research and analysis on a wide range of public policy issues. Committed to promoting economic freedom, individual liberty, and responsible governance, the Centre aims to contribute to informed public debates and shape effective policies that benefit Canadians.

Wendell Cox is a Senior Fellow at the Frontier Centre for Public Policy. He is principal of Demographia.com, author of Demographia World Urban Areas and an author of Demographia International Housing Affordability (19 annual editions) and Demographia World Urban Areas. He earned a BA in Government from California State University, Los Angeles and an MBA from Pepperdine University. He served as a visiting professor at the Conservatoire des Arts et Metiers in Paris, a national university.

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Alberta

Edmonton triples venture capital investment in 2023

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Alberta’s tech sector continues its strong momentum, with Edmonton seeing its strongest growth ever, proof Alberta remains a hot tech market.

As global and national investment have declined, Alberta has remained a strong tech market and is showing continued leadership, as shown by Pitchbook ranking Calgary as the 12th fastest-growing tech ecosystem in the world and LinkedIn ranking Calgary as one of the best places to hire and recruit tech workers.

At the end of 2023, Alberta’s five-year growth rate for venture capital dollars invested reached an impressive 48.5 per cent, more than triple Canada’s compounded average growth rate of 13 per cent, according to the 2023 Canadian Venture Capital Private Equity Association fourth-quarter report.

The province’s growth rate means Alberta finished 2023 with $707 million invested over 86 deals, in line with Alberta’s 2022 record-breaking year. In contrast, Canada ended the year with a 31 per cent decline in investments. Over the past five years, Alberta technology companies have secured more than $2.7 billion in venture capital funding across 350 deals, creating thousands of jobs for Albertans.

“While Canada as a whole saw massive declines, Alberta has held steady. We are a major venture capital player in Canada, as technology drives growth across all sectors.”

Nate Glubish, Minister of Technology and Innovation

Alberta’s two largest cities continued to attract investment dollars in 2023, with Calgary and Edmonton coming in fourth and fifth respectively for number of deals, with $501 million invested in 64 deals in Calgary and $188 million invested in 21 deals in Edmonton. Edmonton saw a 324 per cent increase from $58 million in 2022 to $188 million in 2023. In total, Alberta captured 10.3 per cent of dollars invested in 2023 and 13 per cent of venture capital deals in Canada.

“Edmonton’s tripling of venture capital investment in 2023 underscores our city’s position as a dynamic tech capital within Alberta’s thriving innovation ecosystem, reaffirming our role as a powerhouse driving technological advancement and economic prosperity across diverse sectors. It is the local innovators’ relentless pursuit of solutions to real-world problems, with the continuing support of the Government of Alberta, which not only attracts significant investment but also propels our city to the forefront of Alberta’s tech revolution and fosters job creation for our community.”

Launa Aspeslet, interim chief executive officer, Edmonton Unlimited

“At Platform Calgary we are working with our partners to continue this momentum by linking up high potential tech startups with the investors that can help them take their businesses to the next level. The evidence is clear, Alberta is emerging as one of the most exciting and resilient tech ecosystems in the world. Together with our growing tech community, we can secure Alberta’s position as the best place in the world for anyone to launch and grow a tech business.”

Terry Rock, president and chief executive officer, Platform Calgary 

Alberta remains a growing market for the technology and innovation sector, and Alberta’s government celebrates its steady contribution to the Alberta economy, including in the fourth quarter of 2023. The end of last year saw venture capital investments in the province increase by 35 per cent for dollars invested and 19 per cent for deals closed compared with the third quarter. There were 25 deals closed valued at a combined $173 million in the fourth quarter of 2023.

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Economy

Taxpayer watchdog slams Trudeau gov’t for increasing debt ceiling: ‘Put down the credit card’

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From LifeSiteNews

By Anthony Murdoch

Canadian Finance Minister Chrystia Freeland authorized an additional $73 billion in borrowing this fiscal year.

After Canadian Finance Minister Chrystia Freeland gave herself and the government the authority to borrow an additional $73 billion this fiscal year, the head of the nation’s leading taxpayer watchdog group said the federal government needs to “put down the credit card” and return to common-sense spending.

Freeland, as per a February 15 cabinet order made under the Financial Administration Act, allowed the extra borrowing to take place.

The government has set “$517 billion to be the maximum aggregate principal amount of money that may be borrowed” before April 1. Before this cabinet order, however, the maximum amount was $444 billion.

Despite Freeland claiming that the increase in borrowing is “in no way a blank cheque,” Canadian Taxpayers Federation federal director Franco Terrazzano said the borrowing needs to end.

“The Trudeau government needs to put down the credit card and pick up some scissors,” Terrazzano told LifeSiteNews.

“The government should be cutting spending and balancing the budget, not racking up more debt for years to come.”

In 2021, Canada’s Parliament raised the federal debt borrowing amount by a whopping 56% under the Borrowing Authority Act. The amount went from $1.168 trillion to $1.831 trillion.

“What it does is set a ceiling for how much the government can spend,” Freeland said at the time.

Terrazzano told LifeSiteNews that the Trudeau government should be cutting spending and balancing the budget, not racking up more debt for years to come.

Terrazzano observed that in the coming year the Trudeau government will be spending “more money on debt interest charges than it sends to the provinces in health transfers.”

“In a handful of years, every penny collected from the GST (Goods and Service Tax) will go toward paying interest on the debt,” he noted.

Under Prime Minister Justin Trudeau, due to excessive COVID money printing, inflation has skyrocketed.

Last month, LifeSiteNews reported that fast-rising food costs in Canada have led to many people feeling a sense of “hopelessness and desperation” with nowhere to turn for help, according to the Canadian government’s own National Advisory Council on Poverty.

Last year, the Bank of Canada acknowledged that Trudeau’s federal “climate change” programs, which have been deemed “extreme” by some provincial leaders, are indeed helping to fuel inflation.

Terrazzano told LifeSiteNews that Trudeau should “completely scrap his carbon tax,” which is making everything more expensive.

Conservatives blast increased debt

Conservative Party of Canada (CPC) MPs have been critical of the raised debt ceiling. “You’re simply saying, ‘Give me a blank cheque and then trust me,’” MP Ed Fast said.

Freeland claimed that the “characterization of the borrowing authority limit as a blank cheque is simply false.”

CPC leader Pierre Poilievre recently asked, “Is there a dollar figure to which she would limit the debt?”

She replied that the government is “mindful that limits exist.”

During a February 13 Senate national finance committee meeting, Budget Officer Yves Giroux noted how Trudeau’s cabinet plans in terms of spending are not clear.

“We don’t know exactly what the government plans on spending or doing in terms of new spending or potential spending,” he said when asked by Senator Elizabeth Marshall if the new borrowing limits are “still realistic.”

Marshall added, “As it stands now, do you think it looks reasonable?”

“It looks sufficient, but the government always wants to give itself some room to maneuver in case there are unforeseen events that require borrowing on short notice,” Giroux replied.

A report from September 5, 2023, by Statistics Canada shows food prices are rising faster than headline inflation at a rate of between 10% and 18% per year.

According to a recent Statistics Canada survey of supermarket prices, Canadians are paying 12% more for carrots, 14% more for hamburger (ground meat), and 27% more for baby formula.

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