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Monday, October 10, 2016

Mortgage finance rules could force some Canadians into less expensive houses

   Canada column for Sunday, Oct. 9/16

   (c) By Jim Fox

   First-time home buyers might have to settle for less expensive houses than previously with a tightening of Canadian mortgage lending rules.
   The federal government is moving to protect buyers from getting too deeply into debt should interest rates begin rising.
   New rules to take effect on Oct. 17 will limit the amount home buyers can borrow so they can keep up with their payments at higher rates.
   A “stress test” will be used for all buyers putting down less than 20 percent of the cost of the house – a condition that previously applied only to those opting for variable or fixed rate mortgages with renewable terms of less than five years.
   It’s aimed at ensuring buyers can make their mortgage payments and cover other costs related to home ownership.
   This happens at a time when single detached houses in Vancouver sell for an average of $1.5 million and $1 million in Toronto.


   Canada’s famed Royal Canadian Mounted Police has been a hotbed of sexual harassment, bullying and discrimination, Commissioner Bob Paulson acknowledged.
   He gave a “sincere apology” while announcing the settlement of two class-action lawsuits involving hundreds of current and former female officers and employees for incidents over the past four decades.
   “We failed you, we hurt you and for that I am truly sorry,” Paulson said at a news conference.
   The Canadian government has set aside $100 million for settlement costs but there is no cap on the overall compensation that could be awarded.


   News in brief:
   - Canada deployed a team to Haiti on Thursday to assess damage from Hurricane Matthew and determine what assistance can be provided. International Development Minister Marie-Claude Bibeau said the government has also set aside $3 million to provide immediate assistance as requested by the United Nations or Canadian Red Cross.
   - While much of Canada is enjoying summer-like lingering days, winter has arrived in Saskatchewan, Manitoba and Alberta. A century-old record was broken in Saskatchewan with up to 15 inches of snow in the southwest and six inches in Saskatoon. The storm then gave a blanket of snow to northern Manitoba and a couple of inches in Calgary.


   Facts and figures:
   Canada’s dollar is lower at 75.48 cents U.S. while the U.S. dollar returns $1.324 Canadian, before exchange fees.
   The Bank of Canada’s key interest rate is steady at 0.5 percent while the prime-lending rate is 2.7 percent.
   Stock markets are lower, with the Toronto exchange index at 14,561 points while the TSX Venture index is down at 774 points.
   The average price for gas in Canada is higher at $1.063 a liter or $4.03 (Canadian) for a U.S. gallon.
   Lotto 6/49: (Oct. 5) 1, 3, 31, 32, 39 and 49; bonus 48. (Oct. 1) 7, 18, 22, 31, 38 and 39; bonus 2. Lotto Max: (Sept. 30) 4, 12, 17, 21, 32, 38 and 42; bonus 46.


   Regional briefs:
   - Ken Pagan, 41, of Hamilton, Ontario has been arrested for mischief after a beer can was tossed at a Baltimore outfielder during the Toronto Blue Jays winning “wild card” playoff game. The can was hurled from the stands narrowly missing Orioles player Hyun Soo Kim as he made the catch. Major League Baseball officials have vowed to tighten security and alcohol policies at the games.
   - Many Alberta restaurateurs warn they’ll have to lay off workers as the province has raised the minimum wage to $12.20 an hour, up $1. The socialist New Democratic government plans to up the rate to $13.60 next year and to $15 in 2018. A survey found 78 percent of restaurant operators will cut staff hours and half will lay off workers.
   - Americans are being advised to leave their guns at home if they want to enter Canada. Prosecutors say it happens regularly in New Brunswick involving mostly U.S. retirees from the south who at first deny having weapons at the border. The latest incidents led to a $2,300 fine and $6,500 civil penalty to Robert Yarberry of Arkansas and a $2,000 fine and $1,000 penalty for David Falvey of Florida. Both men and their wives were deported.


Jim Fox can be reached at canadareport@hotmail.com

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