I walked up the snow-covered steps of a quaint bungalow, excited to meet a two-month-old little boy and his mama. She had sent me an email a few days prior; all it said was, “I need help with my baby, he’s crying all the time. Can you do anything?” This is common story in my inbox. I replied I could be there Wednesday.
I knocked on her door, and a beautiful thirty-something woman answered, bouncing a bundle. We sat down on her couch and started to chat. She said he’d been born on his due date, a beautiful delivery, and she was back at home 24 hours later. Breastfeeding hurt in the hospital, but she was told that was “normal” and it would get better. A week later, still trying to “push through”, she couldn’t take it any longer, and went to her local breastfeeding clinic. Her little man had a tongue tie, they said, a common reason for breastfeeding pain. The physician clipped the tongue tie in the office and sent her home with instructions on how to move forward. She continued “pushing on” and did feel some relief, but continued to struggle with supply and latch issues. She was back and forth between clinics and private consultants, as she was desperate to breastfeed. She had dreamed of nursing her baby, like many moms, and the journey had consumed their household. She could not get a comfortable latch no matter what she tried or whose help she enlisted. She was consumed with trying and not giving up. I watched this woman become more teary and shaky as her story progressed. She told me he was gaining weight, but was very fussy and cried at the breast and throughout most of the day and night. Her husband had taken the day off work to be home for our appointment and he sat quietly with his arm around his wife and babe.
I first told her she was doing a beautiful job with her son. I told her the best part of my morning so far was getting to witness the way she looked at him and that I could hear the efforts she had been putting in to try to establish pain-free breastfeeding and an ample supply. I acknowledged that her path sounded full of challenges and I asked her simply, “How are you feeling?”
She broke down. Sobbing in her living room, she told me that breastfeeding was a number one priority for her, and she had read all the books and had sought out so much help and support, but that she just couldn’t do it anymore. She went on to tell me that the stress of nursing had taken all the joy out of becoming parents and it was all both her and her husband could think about. I could see that this woman was full of anxiety and had some real red flags of depression. She shared that she cried alongside her baby throughout most of the day, and was starting to wonder how she was going to keep going. She wasn’t leaving the house and spent all day feeding and pumping.
“Do you want to keep breastfeeding?” I asked her. Both her and her husband looked at me in silence. I realized in this moment what this woman needed from me, a registered nurse and lactation consultant. She needed permission. I told her that the most important thing was that her baby felt loved and that as a mom she had the ability to nurture and care for her baby. I told her flat out, “It is okay to stop and give him a bottle of formula.”
She and her husband hugged and both started to cry. Minutes later, they said, “Thank you, we needed to hear that.”
This is such a controversial topic. #Fedisbest is flooding the internet, and there are so many varying opinions. As a lactation consultant, I am an advocate for breastfeeding, and will go the distance with any family to ensure it happens. But it is not up to anyone but that mother to decide when she has reached her limit. A mama’s mental health trumps breastfeeding. Every time. Breastmilk does not care for, nurture and bond with the baby. A mother does. I am not arguing the health benefits of breastfeeding. Those are known facts. I am talking about the part that just isn’t talked about enough: a mom’s mental health.
Last year, for a few days anyway, the whole country was talking about it. Suffering from postpartum depression, Vancouver mother Florence Leung ended her life two months after her baby was born. On her memorial Facebook page, her husband recently wrote the following:
“To all the new moms experiencing low mood or anxiety, please seek help and talk about your feelings. You are not alone. You are not a bad mother. Do not EVER feel bad or guilty about not being able to exclusively breastfeed.”
As you can guess, despite being an advocate for breastfeeding, I agree completely. Somewhere along the way, our well intentioned, health-benefit focused campaigns on breastfeeding have fueled the message of guilt, shame and pressure on moms that are struggling and it is time for that to change.
I recently received a card and photo in the mail from the mom who gave up breastfeeding after our visit. It was her guy’s one-year birthday. In the picture, I saw a healthy, thriving family. The note said that the day I gave her permission to stop breastfeeding was the day she felt a shift. The tears stopped. She started enjoying the little moments with her boy and their bond grew. She said she still has moments when she feels sad that she and her son missed out on the nursing experience, but she knows that stopping is what her family needed.
We need to stop arguing about what is better. Breastfeeding, formula, bottles, pumping. It isn’t something that is up to “us.” It is not social media’s business, your neighbour’s, your mother’s, or the business of that mom group you belong to. It is yours exclusively.
As much as I like #fedisbest, I think it should evolve into new movement: #momsmentalhealthmatters. A healthy mom is necessary for a healthy, thriving baby—and that is what matters.
Carrie Bruno is a registered nurse, lactation consultant and sleep coach who runs The Mama Coach in Calgary, Alberta. Some details of this story have been changed to protect the family’s privacy.
The U.S. and British governments, citing unspecified threats, are barring passengers on some international flights from mostly Middle Eastern and North African countries from bringing laptops, tablets, electronic games and other devices on board in carry-on bags.
Passengers flying to the United States from 10 airports in eight countries will be allowed only cellphones and smartphones in the passenger cabins, senior Trump administration officials said. Larger electronic items must be checked.
The British security rules will affect flights from six countries and will bar passengers from taking “any phones, laptops or tablets larger than a normal sized mobile or smartphone,” into the cabin.
The U.S. rules took effect Tuesday, and airlines will have until 3 a.m. EDT Saturday to implement them or face being barred from flying to the United States, the officials said.
They said the decision was prompted by “evaluated intelligence” about potential threats to airplanes bound for the United States. The officials would not discuss the timing of the intelligence or if any particular terror group is thought to be planning an attack.
Trump administration officials briefed reporters on condition they not be identified publicly. That was despite President Donald Trump’s repeated insistence that anonymous sources should not be trusted.
The electronics ban affects flights from international airports to the U.S. from in Amman, Jordan; Kuwait City, Kuwait; Cairo; Istanbul; Jeddah and Riyadh, Saudi Arabia; Casablanca, Morocco; Doha, Qatar; and Dubai and Abu Dhabi in the United Arab Emirates. About 50 flights a day, all on foreign carriers, will be affected. The officials said no U.S.-based airlines have nonstop flights from those cities to the United States.
The British security rules will apply to flights from Turkey, Lebanon, Jordan, Egypt, Tunisia and Saudi Arabia.
With the order affecting flights from predominantly Muslim nations, the ban may invite comparisons to Trump’s orders barring travel from several Muslim-majority-nations, which have been blocked by courts. Early in his candidacy, Trump had called on barring Muslims from entering the United States.
But the comparison has its limits. The travel ban was more severe, separating families and barring students from studying in the U.S. The laptop ban is more of an inconvenience and its stated reason is to protect the very travellers who are affected by it. Still, it’s bound to annoy powerful business people and diplomats, and could affect the travel plans of wealthy tourists sought after by the U.S. travel industry.
Details of the electronics ban were first disclosed by Royal Jordanian and the official news agency of Saudi Arabia.
In its statement, Royal Jordanian said the electronics ban would affect its flights to New York, Chicago, Detroit and Montreal.
A spokesman for Royal Jordanian says the airliner has not yet started to enforce the new U.S. regulation. Basel Kilani has told The Associated Press that the airline was still awaiting formal instructions from the relevant U.S. departments, which could possibly come later on Tuesday.
EgyptAir officials said the airline will implement that ban on Friday, while Emirates officials said the new security procedures would start on Saturday for its passengers.
However, the Mideast’s biggest airline is confirming that U.S.-bound passengers will be prevented from carrying electronic gadgets aboard aircraft.
Dubai-based Emirates said Tuesday the ban takes effect on Saturday. That guidance differs from the information provided by senior Trump administration officials, who have said the ban is in place from Tuesday
Homeland Security Secretary John Kelly phoned lawmakers over the weekend to brief them on aviation security issues that have prompted the impending electronics ban, according a congressional aide briefed on the discussion. The aide was not authorized to speak publicly about the issue and spoke on the condition of anonymity.
The administration officials who briefed reporters about the ban said foreign officials were told about the impending order starting Sunday.
A U.S. government official said such a ban has been considered for several weeks. The official spoke on the condition of anonymity to disclose the internal security discussions by the federal government.
The ban would begin just before Wednesday’s meeting of the U.S.-led coalition against the Islamic State group in Washington. A number of top Arab officials were expected to attend the State Department gathering. It was unclear whether their travel plans were related to any increased worry about security threats.
Most major airports in the United States have a computer tomography or CT scanner for checked baggage, which creates a detailed picture of a bag’s contents. The equipment can warn an operator of potentially dangerous material, and may provide better security than the X-ray machines used to screen passengers and their carry-on bags. All checked baggage must be screened for explosives.
Associated Press writers Adam Schreck in Dubai, United Arab Emirates; Karin Laub in Amman, Jordan; Maamoun Youssef in Cairo, David Koenig in Dallas, Paisley Dodds and Danica Kirka in London, and Matthew Lee, Joan Lowy and Ted Bridis in Washington contributed to this report.
Parents whose children have previously attended public school are lining up to register their children for a Catholic high school in Brampton.
They’ve been waiting outside Cardinal Ambrozic Catholic Secondary School on a cold Tuesday night for Wednesday’s registration to begin.
This is not an unusual circumstance, Bruce E. Campbell, a spokesman for the Dufferin-Peel Catholic District School Board, told CityNews on Tuesday. In the past, parents have begun lining up as early as 3 a.m. This year, the lineup began the night before. It also happens at other schools.
The students must live in the catchment area of Cardinal Ambrozic and the lineup happens every year. The school gives priority to Grade 9 students from the Catholic elementary feeder schools. After that, there are approximately 85 spaces available for open access students or those looking to attend from other school boards, Campbell said.
Enrolment is capped at 320 students per grade.
Campbell said that there is a perception that the school “is a good place to learn, is very safe, maintains good discipline, and performs well. Also, parents have commented on ‘liking’ uniforms.”
Click here to see more requirements for registration.
The Trudeau government will unveil a federal budget Wednesday that’s expected to be heavy on policy and light on spending.
The second budget of the Liberal mandate is poised to focus more on the social policies central to its agenda – from skills to job training, from child care to affordable housing.
In particular, the government plans to take steps they hope will help – and reassure – those who fear being left behind by a coming sea change in how economic engines function around the world.
The budget comes at a time when Ottawa has very little room to introduce new spending. The country has struggled with disappointing growth, and the Liberals have already made billions and billions of dollars worth of commitments in last year’s budget.
But even without big-ticket spending, a government source sought Tuesday to counter lowered expectations for the budget, insisting instead that the document would contain “transformative” and “bold” policy direction.
“Not everything is spending, not everything is money,” said one Finance Department source, speaking on condition of anonymity in order to discuss details in advance of the budget’s release.
“The budget’s a public policy document and I think the story will be much more into where the country needs to go as opposed to dollar amounts… If you’re just looking at tables, that’s not where this story is going to be.”
A key budget theme will be the government’s focus on easing concerns about the future of Canada’s labour market.
Finance Minister Bill Morneau dropped some major hints in a speech last week in Germany, where he argued that “anti-globalization, protectionism and even anti-immigration sentiments” are stoked when people feel nervous about their future.
“They look at the pace of technological change, and the seemingly never-ending need for new skills, and are understandably stressed about the future. It’s hard to feel confident, and to face every day with optimism, when you can’t see what’s around the corner.”
One way to respond to that challenge, Morneau said, would be “a culture of lifelong learning, helping people develop the skills they need at every stage of their life to succeed in the new economy,” which he said he would be taking steps to create.
And while the annual tradition of the finance minister buying a new pair of shoes often brings clues about the budget narrative, the symbolism this year seemed heavier than most.
The dress shoes, black with laces, were designed by the two Canadian sisters behind Poppy Barley, an Edmonton company that says its shoes are hand-crafted by fairly paid artisans in Mexico. Morneau donned the shoes in a Toronto classroom, surrounded by children of diverse backgrounds, including girls wearing the Muslim hijab.
The Opposition, meanwhile, wants to see more than just bold ideas.
“Justin Trudeau has racked up the credit card and now he needs money to pay the bill,” said interim Conservative leader Rona Ambrose, who said she expects to see tax increases in Wednesday’s document.
New Democrat MP Alexandre Boulerice said the time has come for the government to close tax loopholes that benefit the rich, and use the proceeds to help more people.
“We can bring back billions of dollars for our social programs and public services,” Boulerice said.
The search is over for an Ontario man accused of fatally injuring his seven-year-old stepson moments before allegedly stabbing a local bank employee.
Niagara police Chief Jeff McGuire confirmed that Justin Kuijer, 43, was arrested by provincial police Tuesday in Kenora, Ont., after a tip from a citizen.
A Canada-wide arrest warrant was issued Monday for Kuijer on charges of second-degree murder in the death of seven-year-old Nathan Dumas, as well as the attempted murder of a woman working at a local RBC branch.
Police alleged that Kuijer had been on the run in his ex-girlfriend’s van ever since the two grisly scenes unfolded Friday.
In a news release, Niagara regional police said the 2009 Pontiac Montana van was located at about 5:15 p.m. Tuesday in a parking lot with Kuijer alone inside. They said he was arrested without incident.
He is expected to be returned to the Niagara Region within the coming days, police said.
In a release late Tuesday, police said they would hold a news conference to discuss the case on Wednesday afternoon at NRPS headquarters in Niagara Falls, Ont.
Police have said that they were called to a home Friday morning above a sandwich shop owned by Nathan’s grandparent.
Const. Phil Gavin said a family member found Nathan suffering from critical injuries and had him rushed to a hospital, where the boy died the next day.
At around the same time the Dumas family was making the discovery, police allege Kuijer walked into a nearby RBC branch and stabbed a woman working there. Gavin said Kuijer – who is listed as the owner and operator of Niagara Elite Roofing – had a professional relationship with the woman.
The officer described the attack as targeted, but declined to provide further details.
The woman is now in hospital in stable condition, he added.
Police had originally indicated that they would be seeking a charge of first-degree murder in Nathan’s death, but Gavin did not explain why the second-degree murder charge was listed on the warrant.
“At the 11th hour the decision was made that this was the most appropriate charge,” he said.
When reached by phone Monday, the boy’s mother, Whitney Dumas, declined to comment, but she addressed the loss suffered by herself and her two other children in a series of Facebook posts.
“This is truly a tragic time for everyone involved,” she wrote. “I understand that everyone has questions, it’s human nature, so do I. I kindly ask that everyone respect my family’s privacy and space and allow my family this time to mourn the loss of my beautiful son.”
Dumas thanked the Niagara community for an outpouring of support and a wave of financial generosity, and social media comments suggested those beyond the family circle also felt moved by Nathan’s death.
“My kids and I said a prayer tonight for you and your family,” wrote one Facebook user. “You not only have a city, but a region … probably a nation at this point … supporting you.”
An elementary school near the scene where Nathan died flew a flag at half-mast on Monday afternoon, and crowdsourcing efforts to raise money for the family generated considerable response.
Friends of the boy’s family started a GoFundMe campaign that had netted more than $21,000 by Tuesday night.
The page suggested Nathan died just a week shy of his eighth birthday.
“Nathan’s precious life was abruptly cut short at the hand of someone else,” the tribute said. “Nathan was an energetic, loving and caring little boy who will never have his first girlfriend, graduate school or get married and have children. Nathan would have made a big difference in this cruel world.”
The federal budget to be released this Wednesday by Finance Minister Bill Morneau is likely to introduce several changes for average Canadian families and investors alike. But Morneau himself is aiming to pull off a terrific feat—keeping Canada competitive in trade with world markets while at the same time telling his G20 colleagues this week that “taxing the rich is good economics.”
Of course, the good news is that Morneau is making middle-class Canadians a priority for 2017 and he seems ready to ensure that increases from economic growth won’t only flow to the rich. And while he says the budget will focus on skills training, innovation and promoting long-term growth, he’s also been reluctant to introduce major hikes on investment income. “I don’t foresee any changes to the personal tax rates themselves,” says Greg Bell, tax partner with KPMG in Ottawa. “And I think the Liberals aren’t that opposed to running a deficit for a while. So it will be interesting to see what changes.” Of course, changes can happen in almost any area and rumours have been swirling for weeks. Here are 10 things to watch for in the March 22 budget.
1. Encouraging skills upgrading
Tax credits to help Canadian workers upgrade their skills throughout their lifetime in a global economy that demands it are expected to be generous. “I will also be taking steps to create a culture of lifelong learning, helping people develop the skills they need at every stage of their life to succeed in the new economy,” hinted Morneau this past week.
2. Cracking down on tax evasion
Look for more money to be given to the Canada Revenue Agency to fight offshore tax evasion, an investment that has so far helped the CRA reap millions in extra tax dollars while at the same time achieving the aim of discouraging tax evasion by Canadians. “They’ve made significant investments in the past, so could add to it,” says Bell.
3. Taxing a portion of capital gains on principal residence
A change here could put a cap on the unlimited amount of tax-free capital gains that Canadians have become accustomed to on their principal residence. Tax specialists and policy makers speculate that a possible plan would allow a capped amount to be tax-free on the sale of your principal residence with any proceeds over this amount to be taxed as capital gains in your tax bracket at the time of sale. As an example, a cap of $500,000 in tax-free capital gains on any principal residence means that a home sold for $1 million that was purchased for $100,000 in 1985 say, would have $400,000 taxed at the owner’s tax rate at the time of the sale (about 35% for the average middle class Canadian).
Bell sees a different scenario. “If you claim part of your home as business usage, I can see them perhaps taxing a portion of the principal residence when you sell,” says Bell. “So if you claimed 10% of your home as a business expense, they could tax a 10% portion of your gain when you go sell.”
4. Changes to capital gains inclusion rate
The federal government has never stated it would change the capital gains inclusion rate, currently at 50%. That’s the tax you have to pay when you sell some property, such as stocks, a rental property or a second home, that have increased in value since you bought them. Right now, only 50% of that price difference is subject to tax, with the tax rate depending on your income-tax bracket. But an increase in the rate to 66%, which we had in 1988, or to 75%, which lasted for a decade from 1990 to 2000, is a distinct possibility. “I’ve thought about this change a lot,” says Bell. “And if you increase the capital gain rate to 75%, the taxation level comes closer to that of dividends now. But people are being encouraged to save for retirement and save as well outside of their pensions and RRSPs, so I don’t think it would make sense to change the rates.”
Boosting the inclusion rate to 75% would mean that only 25% of your capital gains from the sale would be tax-free and the remaining percentage would be taxed at your marginal tax rate the year of the sale. The Liberals have long promised to eliminate tax breaks that mostly benefit the wealthy, a change that they promised would boost government revenue by at least $3 billion.
5. Small business deductions may be pared back
Right now, business owners who operate through a Canadian-controlled private corporation (CCPC) are able to claim the small business deduction on the first $500,000 of active business income which allows them to pay extremely low rates of tax when the income is initially earned. The result? A huge tax deferral advantage by leaving the after-tax corporate income inside the corporation as opposed to paying it out immediately.
Business owners are also able to income split after-tax profits from their corporation by issuing shares directly, or through a family trust, to other family members, and paying those family members dividends that are then taxed at lower rates. The fear is that new measures and limits may come out in the upcoming budget to curtail the use of the small business corporation and limit income splitting with family members. “It’s likely there could be some further tightening in partnership structures,” says Bell.
6. Changes to dividend tax credit
It is speculated that the dividend tax credit may be revised and lowered as these tax credits are seen to mainly benefit the wealthy. The reason for these credits initially was to avoid double taxation on earnings that corporations already paid tax on. There’s lots of buzz around this possible change but no mainstream proposal yet. “In Ontario, the top tax rate on dividends is almost 40%, so it’s already quite high,” says Bell. “I’d be surprised if this changes.”
7. “Boutique” tax credits revamp
Sometimes referred to as “tax expenditures,” boutique tax credits refer to government spending that encourage certain programs and behaviours amongst Canadians, such as public transit and post-secondary education. Or, they target certain slices of the population, such as parents, seniors or pensions. These incentives are often given in the form of tax credits. In general, such tax credits are seen today as not being worth the trouble.
In fact, last year the government added one such credit—for teachers’ classroom supplies—while dropping four as of Jan. 1 2017, including the children’s fitness and arts credits, as well as the education and textbook credits for students. This year’s budget may contain the further elimination of a variety of tax credits that are costly, narrowly-targeted, and don’t have a meaningful impact on the taxpayers for whom they were designed. Look for the public transit tax credit, tradespeople tool deduction and volunteer firefighter credit to be on the chopping block.
8. Employee stock option changes
The 2015 Liberal election platform had a proposal to limit the benefits of the 50% employee stock option deduction by placing a cap of $100,000 on annual eligible stock option gains but this was dropped after intense lobbying by startups in the tech and resource industry who rely heavily on non-cash compensation such as stock options to attract much needed, specialized talent to their firms.
“Employee stock options are getting a lot of discussion but it’s a key part of compensation for startups,” says Bell. “But while it’s a hard one to call, they could put an asset test on it—meaning employee stock options would be taxed more heavily for those employees who work for big public companies with a large asset base, like the Big Five banks. I don’t see the taxation of employee stock options for smaller companies and startups changing, though.”
9. Broaden access to the Home Buyers’ Plan (HBP)
Right now, first-time home buyers can withdraw up to $25,000 each from their RRSPs with no tax penalties for the purchase of a new home in Canada for themselves or a relative with a disability. The Liberals could expand the HBP to help Canadians facing a job relocation, the death of a spouse, marital breakdown or who need to accommodate an elderly relative. But while some analysts believe this change is highly expected to come through, Bell isn’t so sure. “I think the housing market is too hot and this would go against trying to cool it,” says Bell.
10. OAS and GIS being tied to a new alternative consumer price index
OAS and GIS payments already rise in tandem with inflation, but the Liberals noted that, according to a Statistics Canada study, the price of most things seniors buy tends to rise faster.
In its 2015 elections platform, the party proposed developing a Seniors Price Index that would supplement the general Consumer Price Index to which OAS and GIS are currently indexed. PwC, the global consultancy firm, noted earlier this year that the House of Commons’ Finance Committee also recently recommended adopting the change. It didn’t make it into the 2016 budget but may make it into the upcoming one.
Overall, it doesn’t look like the federal government is necessarily looking for a lot more tax revenue this year. “Sometime just getting a strong vibrant economy up and running creates more revenue in the long term because more taxpayers in future will be paying tax,” says Bell. “We’re not like the U.S. where they’re forced to balance the budget. I think tightening some of the loopholes in the Canadian budget is the real aim overall this tax year.”
The definition of “affordable” is expanding as Toronto’s housing market shows no signs of slowing down.
Last month, GTA house prices soared to a new monthly record – a 27 per cent increase over February 2016, with an average selling price of $876,000. If you’re looking for a detached home, you’re definitely in millionaire territory. The average home crossed the $1.5-million mark, a 35 per cent increase over the same month last year.
Finance Minister Charles Sousa says he is looking at all options to cool down the hot Toronto market in his upcoming budget.
“We’re giving considerations to what [we] may do,” said Sousa. “We know for certain that this is a result of increased demand in the province. That demand is being increased by a number of factors.”
He’s written a letter to federal finance minister Bill Morneau, asking him to increase the capital gains inclusion rate of 50 per cent on the sale of non-principal residences as a way to “reduce the incentive for people to make speculative purchases.”
Ontario urging for tax increase to curb real estate investment buyers
A spokesperson for Morneau wouldn’t commit to adopting Sousa’s request but said other measures were being taken to keep the market from spiraling out of control.
“Since increasing down payment requirements in December of 2015 to address pockets of risk in Toronto and Vancouver, we have studied the state of the housing market, alongside provincial and municipal partners. Our Government is bringing consistency to mortgage rules by standardizing stress tests for both low and high ratio mortgages.”
“Additionally, we’re improving tax fairness by ensuring that the principal residence exemption is available only in appropriate cases. Finally, we are also looking at whether the distribution of risk in Canada’s system is balanced to protect Canadians. These actions will protect middle class Canadians’ financial security and help ensure financial and economic stability.”
Scotia Bank Chief economist Jean Francois Perrault says the government should consider cracking down on speculators and house-flippers, and says Sousa’s suggestion is just one of many tools available to governments.
“There are a range of things one can do to reduce speculation. Minister Sousa’s idea is one approach.”
Perrault however, is recommending a graduated tax system, in which owners who buy and sell a house within six months pay a higher tax than those who hold onto the property for a year, 18 months or two years.
“Our perspective is that flippers represent a much larger part of the market than foreign buyers,” said Perrault. “About 10 per cent of the 24 per cent or so increase in prices year-over-year in Toronto is related to speculation. So it is, in our opinion, a sizeable market dimension.”
Real estate broker Frank Leo says speculators and “domestic investors” are a major contributor to the market — but says adding new taxes or increasing taxes may not deliver the results the government is looking for.
“The government always does things that end up being a long-term negative as opposed to a positive,” said Leo. “When you start taxing and controlling the market… it’s taking money out of the market. And real estate right now is fueling the economic engine. Do you really want to stop the engine?”
Leo, like many other real estate brokers and agents we’ve spoken to over the past few months, doesn’t believe that a foreign investors tax is the appropriate route to take either. He says they make up “a very small percent, maybe 4 per cent” of sales in the GTA.
Although the Ontario government is planning on tracking citizenship information on home purchases, there is currently no hard-and fast data on the number of foreign buyers in the Toronto market. Anecdotal evidence from the Toronto Real Estate Board suggests that foreign buyers make up only five per cent of the market, as opposed to 10 per cent in Vancouver before a foreign buyers’ tax was introduced there.
Although Vancouver did experience a decline in house prices following the introduction of the tax, Perrault argues that other factors would have influenced the drop as well, including new federal rules for down payments and mortgage qualifications, and a law allowing municipalities to tax vacant homes.
“Our assessment of what we’re seeing in the Toronto market is supply issues are much more important than demand issues. So demand is strong, but supply hasn’t kept up with that. So to truly affect prices over a long period of time, you really need to play the supply. A foreign buyers’ tax, or any other tax for that matter, can influence demand over the short run, but it’s not likely to have sustained impact on prices.”
He notes that housing prices have started to creep back up in Vancouver, with foreign investors making up an estimated 4 per cent of the buyers’ market over the last few months of 2016.
A Toronto father is calling for an outright ban on caffeinated energy drinks but city health officials say it isn’t possible.
Jim Sheppard’s 15-year-old son died of a heart arrhythmia after downing a Red Bull on an empty stomach in 2008.
Sheppard and other parents are calling for a ban on energy drinks in their cities.
“I’ve reached out to those people, some of them are in Australia, there’s a number in the States, there’s another lady in Montreal, and they all feel the same way,” he explained. “(Caffeinated energy drinks) should be regulated. We need to have stiff penalties.”
But Dr. Barbara Yaffe with Toronto Public Health says that while there is emerging evidence that energy drinks could pose health risks, it doesn’t warrant outlawing them.
“The evidence is showing there may in fact be serious health effects so we want people to be aware of that and just use caution,” she said.
Yaffe said the focus should be on increasing awareness and added that Health Canada already bans the sale and marketing of energy drinks to children under 12.
“We’re saying increased awareness. Increased awareness of what Health Canada regulations say, in terms of – do not mix energy drinks with alcohol, do not give it to children.”
Sheppard feels the city can take stronger actions to protect young people.
“The City of Toronto has rights on their own properties and I really feel that they should ban the sale, the marketing and advertising of the products on city properties,” he said.
Health Canada already regulates the sale and marketing of energy drinks, but critics say the rules aren’t properly enforced.