Toronto And Vancouver Median Incomes Are Falling. Here’s Why.

Canada’s priciest cities are growing even less affordable for their populations.

A nighttime aerial view of downtown Vancouver is seen in this stock

A nighttime aerial view of downtown Vancouver is seen in this stock photo. MICHAEL WU / EYEEM VIA GETTY IMAGES

MONTREAL ― Statistics Canada’s latest dive into the money Canadians are making has some seemingly bad news for residents of Toronto and Vancouver: The median incomes in these cities fell in 2018.

That doesn’t necessarily mean people there are seeing their paycheques shrink: Rather, the vast flow of migrants in and out of these cities is changing who lives and works there.

But it does mean that these cities’ high and rising costs of living are becoming an even bigger burden for the people living there.

Watch: It’s easier to get rich in Canada than in the U.S., but that comes at a price.

What’s going on with incomes?

According to Statistics Canada’s latest Canadian income survey, released this week, after-tax incomes of families and unattached individuals rose 2.7 per cent in 2018, to a median of $57,100.

“Market incomes” ― meaning what people earn in the job market, not including taxes and government transfers ― rose 0.8 per cent.

But in Greater Toronto, both market incomes and after-tax incomes fell, by 0.9 per cent and 2.9 per cent, respectively. In Greater Vancouver, market incomes fell 8.8 per cent, while after-tax incomes declined 4.4 per cent.

Why is this happening?

The Toronto and Vancouver job markets have been strong recently, with the number of people employed in Toronto up a massive 5.2 per cent in the past year, and up 0.4 per cent in Vancouver. Clearly, these are not bad job markets, or bad economies.

The answer may lie in migration, and in our changing lifestyles. In Vancouver, it seems more people are living alone.

The data suggests “the population is shifting to include more (people living alone) ― this could reflect population aging and/or increased numbers of students and other younger, unattached people,” TD Bank economist Brian DePratto wrote in an email to HuffPost Canada.

Also, faced with soaring housing costs, many Toronto and Vancouver residents are picking up and moving to more affordable locations.

“If higher-income families are moving out to perimeter cities, it could pull the Toronto median down while boosting the rest-of-Ontario level,” Bank of Montreal senior economist Robert Kavcic said.

recent study from Ryerson University’s Centre for Urban Research and Land Development found that Toronto lost more than 5,200 millennials to other parts of Canada between 2018 and 2019, while Vancouver lost nearly 1,700. Ottawa, Victoria and rural areas in southern Ontario were the big winners from that shift, taking in the largest numbers of millennials from other parts of the country.

But the big cities need not worry about losing population ― increased immigration levels mean their population growth has accelerated.

“These flows still represent a small share of (Toronto’s) overall millennial population,” senior researcher Diana Petramala wrote. “The region is still the fastest growing region across the country, owing to immigration.”

Higher immigration levels may also be responsible for some of the fall in median income. Because immigrants are on average younger than the Canadian average, and because they often can’t find work in their fields, they tend to earn less than the average for locals.

House prices make even less sense

Regardless of the reasons, the income data suggests that Toronto and Vancouver are growing even less affordable for their populations.

The average resale price for all home types has jumped by 12.3 per cent in Greater Toronto over the past year, while the home price index for Greater Vancouver shows the city is recovering from a home price slump, with prices up 1.4 per cent in the past six months.

With that, a nine-month period of improving home affordability has come to an end, National Bank Financial reported earlier this month ― and worse is yet to come.

“We doubt that a further improvement in home affordability is possible at this point as we see interest rates levelling off and home prices should accelerate given tight supply in the resale market,” economists Kyle Dahms and Matthieu Arseneau wrote.

“Indeed, the national active listings to sales ratio is at its lowest since 2007, a level generally associated with worsening affordability.” SOURCE

Two opportunities to take action to protect Ontario

Stop the giant Hamilton gas pipeline – sign the petition

Image result for enbridge gas pipeline in hamilton ontario

Enbridge Gas is proposing to build a giant pipeline through Hamilton, including through an ecologically important wetland, to increase imports of fracked gas from the United States into Ontario.

This pipeline is designed to allow a huge increase in use of polluting gas-fired generating plants in Ontario with an increase in greenhouse gas emissions of 400% by 2025.  This is above and beyond the major climate impact of producing fracked gas.

Sign the petition to stop the pipeline

There is no need for this pipeline. Ontario can keep its lights on without increasing its greenhouse gas pollution by expanding its energy efficiency programs and by contracting for low-cost water power from Quebec.

To learn more about Enbridge’s destructive proposal, click here to read our 2-page factsheet about the proposed Hamilton Pipeline.

Sign the petition to oppose Enbridge’s fracked-gas pipeline.  You can modify the petition message by clicking on “Read the petition” and editing the comments.  A copy of your message will be sent to Environment Minister Jeff Yurek and to Flamborough-Glanbrook MPP Donna Skelly. HERE

Action to take before Jan 27th:

Stop BWXT’s Toronto licence renewal in West End Toronto

BWXT admits that “airborne particles can expose members of the public via inhalation”
The Canadian Nuclear Safety Commission, according to York University Environmental Studies Professor Mark Winfield is “The poster child for an industry captured regulator.”
The Canadian Nuclear Safety Commission staff have recommended the factory be given a ten- year operating license renewal. Here’s our chance to say NO.
BWXT is now applying for a ten year licence renewal with flexibility to conduct uranium processing in both Toronto and Peterborough which would conceivably allow them to relocate to Peterborough and decommission the Toronto facility within the next ten years. While it is encouraging that they are making exit plans, the people of Peterborough are organizing to block this incursion and they are experienced in their opposition.
The public is invited to share their thoughts at a public hearing, March 2-3 at the Casa Do Alentjo Community Centre, 1130 Dupont Street (Dufferin and Dupont). The deadline to indicate you will make your voice heard is January 27.
Register by e-mailing: 

BWXT filters most of its emissions, the smallest particle are what escapes their HEPA filters.

BWXT does its own uranium emissions estimates and claims to have released 46.2 grams of uranium over the past 5 years.

According to physicist Dr. Gordon Edwards, here are the stats on how many particles of uranium are in each gram of uranium released from BWXT at 1025 Lansdowne 
This means BWXT releases approximately
7,160,000,000,000,000 particles a year
19,616,438,356,164 particles a day
817,351,598,173 particles an hour
1,362,256,636 particles a minute
227,042,110 particles a second

By processing half of all nuclear fuel used in Canada, releasing 227 millions particles per second is unacceptable.

Similar to the cancer causing potential of inhaling just one single asbestos fibre breathing in just one particle of alpha radiation emitting uranium can cause cancer. According to Dr. Gordon Edwards, “The highly insoluble and carcinogenic dust particles lodge in the lungs and become a ‘body burden’ that will remain inside the lungs, irradiating the highly sensitive lung tissue for many years.”

“The people living around there are at risk,” says Dr. Helen Caldicott, “If you happen to inhale one particle of uranium into your lungs you get a very high dose to a small volume of cells which can induce cancer.”

The BWXT is broadcasting massive amounts of uranium particles over millions of people.  Those who live, work, and go to school in the wind path of the uranium emissions are most at risk.

If you live, work, or study or party in this neighbourhood you are an impacted person from an impacted community.

What you can do: 

Inform neighbours & make your voice heard
Contact your elected officials: 
Ana Bailao, City Councillor
Marit Stiles, Member of Provincial Parliament 416-392-7012
Julie Dzerowicz, Member of Parliament
Stephanie Donaldson, School Trustee
Tell them you expect them to participate in the public hearing, and state in clear terms that the uranium plant must be shut down. 

Demand they take action to protect your health


Attend our community meeting on:
Tues. Jan. 21, 7 p.m.


1900 Davenport at Davenport Perth Community Centre
Why now?
The Canadian Nuclear Safety Commission staff have recommended the factory be given a ten- year operating license renewal. Here’s our chance to say NO.
The public is invited to share their thoughts at a public hearing, March 2-3 at the Casa Do Alentjo Community Centre, 1130 Dupont Street (Dufferin and Dupont). The deadline to indicate you will make your voice heard is January 27.
Register by e-mailing: 
join the facebook group

The public is invited to share their thoughts at a public hearing, March 2-3 at the Casa Do Alentjo Community Centre, 1130 Dupont Street (Dufferin and Dupont).

The deadline to indicate you will make your voice heard is January 27.

Register by e-mailing: Those of us who live outside the GTA or unable to attend, you can request to make your intervention over the phone or you can email your concerns to before Jan. 27.

They will go on file for all to read. And then if you don’t show up at the hearing, they’ll just pass over you.

Also, please consider signing this petition and following/supporting their face book group working to stop this dangerous plant in the GTA.

The Trees and the Forest of New Towers

As engineered wood evolves as a construction material, the sky is becoming the limit for timber office and institutional buildings.

Image result for NY Times: The Trees and the Forest of New Towers
One of three timber construction buildings recently completed for the Swatch Group in Switzerland.Credit…Swatch Group

Michael Green has seen the future of the building industry, and that future is wood. Lots of wood. The Vancouver-based architect is among the most ardent proponents of what is known as mass timber, prefabricated structural wood components that can be used to construct buildings — even large-scale buildings — faster, with less waste and eventually with less money.

Most crucially, Mr. Green and others say, building with mass timber can ameliorate climate change because it produces less in greenhouse gas emissions than construction with concrete and steel. And wood has the benefit of storing the carbon dioxide trees absorb during their growth, keeping it out of the atmosphere indefinitely.

“Roughly 11 percent of the global carbon footprint is related to what buildings are made out of,” said Mr. Green, whose mass-timber projects include the T3 office building in Minneapolis (the name stands for timber, technology and transportation) and a pair of buildings for Oregon State University’s College of Forestry, including a research and development facility for the school’s TallWood Design Institute.

Credit…Ema Peter

While cutting down trees to make buildings may not sound environmentally sensitive, mass timber supporters argue that wood could be harvested from sustainably managed forests.

Increasing numbers of architects, developers, governments, educational institutions and corporations are embracing wood. In Biel, Switzerland, Swatch Group just completed three buildings said to be among the largest timber construction projects in the world. Designed by Shigeru Ban, an architect admired for his innovative use of wood, the complex includes a serpentine company headquarters wrapped in a spectacular latticed timber facade.

Credit: Picture Plane/Heatherwick Studio, for Sidewalk Labs

“We’re past the tipping point in the acceptance of wood,” said Thomas Robinson, founder of the Portland, Ore., firm Lever Architecture, which recently completed the Nature Conservancy’s local offices and community center using Forest Stewardship Council-certified wood and is working on an expanded mass-timber headquarters for Adidas. “The people who are the innovators, looking for the next thing, a richer experience for their employees or how they live, they’re turning to mass timber.”

The benefits are aesthetic and environmentally responsible, he added. “People just connect to wood in a way that is visceral.” SOURCE



Toronto asks Supreme Court of Canada to overturn Doug Ford government’s council cut

The Supreme Court of Canada hears a select number of cases each year, typically of significant public importance.

The city is asking the country’s top court to overturn a decision that Premier Doug Ford’s mid-election council cut was constitutional.

In applying to the Supreme Court of Canada — which chooses to hear a select number of cases each year, typically of significant public and usually national importance — the city says the issues raised by the provincial government’s meddling in the election “transcend the specific election in this case and can affect any election in the country.”

“This appeal raises three issues of national and public importance relating to local democracy as well as broad, important constitutional interpretation issues that require further jurisprudential guidance from this Court,” the city’s application, filed Friday, says.

“The intervention of this Court is necessary to bring clarity to these constitutional issues of public importance.”

The application outlines how the province, without notice, passed legislation that cut the number of city wards in Toronto from 47 to 25 during the 2018 election. On the day it became law, the municipal campaign had been running for 105 days with 69 days before the vote.

“The result was widespread disruption and confusion,” the city’s legal team — comprising Diana Dimmer, Glenn Chu, Fred Fischer and Philip Chan — says in its written application.

It goes on to describe the fallout:

“Candidates had campaigned in areas that were no longer part of their ward and had never campaigned in areas that were now part of their ward; ward sizes approximately doubled; electors were no longer sure what ward they were in or who was a candidate in their ward; endorsements that had been provided for candidates were rescinded; people who did not run when it was a 47-ward election decided to enter the race when it became a 25-ward election; the Clerk, who was preparing for months for a 47-ward election, had to suddenly begin preparing for a 25-ward election; candidates spent more time speaking to electors about the reduction in the number of wards than election issues.”

In September 2018, Superior Court Justice Edward Belobaba ruled that Bill 5, the Better Local Government Act, was unconstitutional and struck it down.

The province then appealed. First, the Court of Appeal granted a stay, which effectively put Belobaba’s decision on hold and saw an election proceed in October with the 25-ward structure now in place. A rare five-judge panel at the Court of Appeal then ultimately overturned that lower court decision in favour of the province. But the panel was split on that decision, 3 to 2.

The city’s application to the Supreme Court outlines three central issues: whether the charter protects the expression of people participating in an election from “substantial mid-election changes” to the electoral framework in place; whether what’s called the unwritten constitutional principles of democracy and rule of law can be used to strike down legislation; and whether municipal voters are entitled to effective representation.

On the first issue, the city’s application notes that the Court of Appeal panel was split on mid-election interference as it relates to section 2(b) of the charter, which protects freedom of expression, and that the appeal to the Supreme Court would allow that court to provide guidance for all municipalities going forward. Expressive rights are wielded by many people in an election, the city wrote: candidates seeking support, donors providing financial support, volunteers working on campaigns, and electors casting their ballots.

Toronto city council votes against declaring homelessness crisis an emergency, now what?

Last week, Toronto Mayor Tory and Toronto City Council showed their impotence to deal with one of the most severe social welfare disasters in Toronto’s history — homelessness. 

The homelessness emergency affects over 8,000 people. Over 1,000 people are living in what can only be compared to refugee camp conditions: respite sites including a disaster dome, overnight drop-ins, and basements of churches and synagogues.

The housing emergency affects close to 200,000 people: 181,000 people are on the social housing wait list and another 16,000 await supportive housing. Essentially neither is being built.

In a debate over whether to declare Toronto’s housing and homelessness crisis an emergency, the directors of Toronto’s emergency management and legal services offices dispassionately addressed language in the Emergency Management and Civil Protection Act, including what entails an “emergency.” Equally dispassionate were the General Manager of Shelter, Support and Housing and the Medical Officer of Health.

Councillor Gord Perks, who brought forth the motion last week with Councillor Kristyn Wong-Tam, attempted to give staff an opening, suggesting that causes out of the city’s control, such as deregulation, could cause a disaster. After all, homelessness and the housing crisis is the direct result of federal and provincial abandonment. MORE


Deaths of People Experiencing Homelessness