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Economy

Toronto, Vancouver named “Impossibly Unaffordable”

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From the Frontier Centre for Public Policy

By Courtney Greenberg

Two Canadian cities — Toronto and Vancouver — have earned the title of “impossibly unaffordable” in a new report.

“There has been a considerable loss of housing affordability in Canada since the mid-2000s, especially in the Vancouver and Toronto markets,” according to the Demographia International Housing Affordability report, which is released annually.

“During the pandemic, the increase in remote work (working at home) fuelled a demand increase as many households were induced to move from more central areas to suburban, exurban and even more remote areas. The result was a demand shock that drove house prices up substantially, as households moved to obtain more space, within houses and in yards or gardens.”

Vancouver was the least affordable market in Canada, and the third least affordable out of all of the 94 markets observed in the report. The West Coast city’s affordability issue has “troublingly” spread to smaller areas like Chilliwack, the Fraser Valley, Kelowna, and markets on Vancouver Island, per the report.

Toronto was named as the second least affordable market in Canada. However, it fared slightly better than Vancouver when it came to the other markets, ranking 84 out of 94 in international affordability.

“As in Vancouver, severely unaffordable housing has spread to smaller, less unaffordable markets in Ontario, such as Kitchener-cambridge-waterloo, Brantford, London, and Guelph, as residents of metro Toronto seek lower costs of living outside the Toronto market,” the report says.

The findings of the report have “grave implications on the prospects for upward mobility,” said Joel Kotkin, the director at the Center for Demographics and Policy at Chapman University, a co-publisher of the report along with Canada’s Frontier Centre for Public Policy.

“As with any problem, the first step towards a resolution should be to understand the basic facts,” he said. “This is what the Demographia study offers.”

The report looked at housing affordability in 94 metropolitan areas in Australia, China, Ireland, New Zealand, Singapore, the United Kingdom, the United States and Canada. The data analyzed was taken from September 2023. The ratings are based on five categories (affordable, moderately unaffordable, seriously unaffordable, severely unaffordable, and impossibly unaffordable) with a points system to classify each area.

The report determined affordability by calculating the median price-to-income ratio (“median multiple”) in each market.

“There is a genuine need to substantially restore housing affordability in many markets throughout the covered nations,” said Frontier Centre for Public Policy president Peter Holle, in a statement. “In Canada, policymakers are scrambling to ‘magic wand’ more housing but continue to mostly ignore the main reason for our dysfunctional costly housing markets — suburban land use restrictions.”

Toronto and Vancouver both received the worst possible rating for affordability, making them stand out as the most expensive Canadian cities in which to buy a home. However, other Canadian markets — like Calgary, Montreal and Ottawa-gatineau — stood out as well. They were considered “severely unaffordable.”

“This is a long time coming,” senior economist with the Canadian Centre for Policy Alternatives David Macdonald told CTV News.

“We haven’t been building enough housing, we certainly haven’t had enough government investment in affordable housing for decades, and the chickens are coming home to roost.”

The most affordable Canadian city in the report was Edmonton, which was given a rating of “moderately unaffordable.” The city in Alberta was “at least twothirds more affordable” than Vancouver.

Overall, Canada ranked third in home ownership compared to the other regions observed in the report. The highest home ownership rate was in Singapore, at 89 per cent, followed by Ireland, at 70 per cent. In Canada, the rate was 67 per cent.

First published in the National Post here, June 17, 2024.

Courtney Greenberg is a Toronto-based freelance journalist writing for the National Post.

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Economy

Trudeau’s bureaucrat hiring spree is out of control

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From the Canadian Taxpayers Federation

Author: Franco Terrazzano

Bureaucrats love to think of themselves as “public servants,” but who is really serving who around here?

Prime Minister Justin Trudeau added another 10,525 bureaucrats to the taxpayer payroll last year. Since becoming prime minister, Trudeau has added more than 108,000 new federal bureaucrats.

That’s a 42 per cent increase in the federal bureaucracy in less than a decade.

Ask yourself, are you getting 42 per cent better services from the federal government? Unless your paycheque comes from taxpayers, the answer is a big fat NO.

While Trudeau’s bureaucracy grew by 42 per cent, Canada’s population grew by 14 per cent.

That means there would be 72,491 fewer federal paper pushers had Trudeau kept growth in the bureaucracy in line with population growth.

It’s not just the size of the bureaucracy that’s ballooning – the cost is too.

The total cost of the federal payroll hit $67 billion last year, a record high. That’s a 68 per cent increase over 2016.

Trudeau gave federal bureaucrats more than one million pay raises in the last four years alone.

Since taking office, Trudeau also rubberstamped about $1.4 billion in taxpayer-funded bonuses to bureaucrats working in federal departments.

The bonuses were paid out despite the Parliamentary Budget Officer finding “less than 50 per cent of [performance] targets are consistently met.”

Then there’s the bonuses at failing Crown corporations.

CBC dished out $15 million in bonuses last year, while their President and CEO Catherine Tait whined about “chronic underfunding” and begged the government for more taxpayer cash. The CBC takes more than $1 billion from taxpayers every year.

The Canada Mortgage and Housing Corporation dished out $102 million in bonuses over the last four years, while Canadians couldn’t afford to buy a home. The bonuses rained down, despite the CMHC repeatedly claiming it’s “driven by one goal: housing affordability for all.”

The Bank of Canada dished out more than $60 million in bonuses over the last three years, even though it failed to do its one and only job: keep inflation low and around two per cent.

The average annual compensation for a full-time federal bureaucrat is $125,300, when pay, pension and perks are accounted for, according to the PBO.

There are now more than 110,000 federal bureaucrats taking home a six-figure base salary – an increase of 154 per cent since Trudeau took power.

Meanwhile, data from Statistics Canada suggests the average annual salary among all full-time workers in Canada was less than $70,000 in 2023.

Here’s why all this matters:

First, it’s an issue of fairness. The last few years have spelled hardship for Canadians who don’t work for the government, but do pay the bills.

Countless Canadians were sent to the ranks of the unemployed, lost their business and struggled to afford rising rents and costly grocery trips.

They’re paying higher taxes so more highly-paid bureaucrats can take bigger paycheques.

Second, more than half of the federal government’s day-to-day spending is consumed by the bureaucracy. That means any government that wants to fix the budget dumpster fire must shrink the bureaucracy.

Let’s recap:

Taxpayers paid for 108,000 new federal bureaucrats. Taxpayers paid for more than one million pay raises over the last four years. Taxpayers paid for more than $1 billion in bonuses.

And bureaucrats barely meet even half of their performance targets – targets they set for themselves.

It’s clear Trudeau’s bureaucratic bloat isn’t serving taxpayers. It’s time to find a pin and pop Ottawa’s ballooning bureaucracy.

This column was first published in the Western Standard on July 202, 2024.

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Economy

We’re Getting Poorer: GDP per Capita in Canada and the OECD

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From the Fraser Institute

By Alex Whalen and Milagros Palacios and Lawrence Schembri

Canada lost ground compared to key allies and trading partners such as the United States, United Kingdom, New Zealand, and Australia between 2014 and 2022.

Canada had the third-lowest growth in GDP per person from 2014 to 2022 among 30 advanced economies, finds a new study published by the Fraser Institute, an independent, non-partisan Canadian public policy think-tank.

“In terms of GDP per person, a broad measure of living standards, Canada’s performance has weakened substantially in recent years,” said Alex Whalen, director of the Fraser Institute’s Atlantic Canada Prosperity Initiative and co-author of We’re Getting Poorer: GDP per Capita in Canada and the OECD, 2002–2060.

The study, which examines Canada’s historic and projected GDP per capita growth compared to similar OECD countries, finds that from 2002 to 2014, Canadian income growth as measured by GDP per person roughly kept pace with the rest of the OECD, but from 2014 to 2022 Canada’s growth rate stagnated.

In 2002, Canada’s GDP per capita was higher than the OECD average by US$3,141. By 2022, it had fallen well below the OECD average by US$231. Canada lost ground compared to key allies and trading partners such as the United
States, United Kingdom, New Zealand, and Australia between 2014 and 2022.

For example, Canadian GDP per person in 2014 was $44,710 (80.4 per cent of the US total of $55,605) but by 2022, Canada was only at $46,035 versus $63,685 in the US. In other words, the gap had grown from $10,895 to $17,649 by 2022 (all measures in inflation-adjusted US dollars).

“Canada has been experiencing a collapse in investment, low productivity growth, and a large and growing government sector, all of which contribute to reduced growth in living standards compared to our peer countries in the OECD,” said Lawrence Schembri, a senior fellow with the Fraser Institute and co-author.

  • This research bulletin examines historical and projected trends in the growth of Canada’s GDP per capita, and compares these trends to those in peer countries in the OECD.
  • Canadians have been getting poorer relative to residents of other countries in the OECD. From 2002 to 2014, Canadian income growth as measured by GDP per capita roughly kept pace with the rest of the OECD. From 2014 to 2022, however, Canada’s position declined sharply, ranking third-lowest among 30 countries for average growth over the period.
  • Between 2012 and 2022, Canada lost ground compared to key allies and trading partners such as the United States, United Kingdom, New Zealand, and Australia, with Canadian GDP per capita declining from 80.4% of the US level in 2012 to 72.3% in 2022.
  • Looking forward to 2060, Canada’s projected average annual growth rate for GDP per capita (0.78%) is the lowest among 30 OECD countries.
  • Canada’s GDP per capita (after adjusting by inflation), which exceeded the OECD average by US$3,141 in 2002 and was roughly equivalent to the OECD average in 2022, is projected to fall below the OECD average by US$8,617 in 2060.
  • The root cause of Canada’s declining long-term growth in GDP per capita—recent and projected—is very low or negative growth in labour productivity reflecting weak investment in physical and human capital per worker.
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