Blockbuster Canadian Jobs Report for February

Latest News Michelle Foster 11 Mar

Canada Reached Full-Employment in February

Statistics Canada released the February Labour Force Survey this morning, reporting a much more significant than expected 336,600 net new jobs, with the unemployment rate falling a full percentage point to 5.5%. This is the first time the unemployment rate fell below its pre-Covid level and reinforces the expectation for another Bank of Canada rate hike in April and as many as five more increases this year. Last month’s recovery more than offsets the losses that coincided with the Omicron lockdowns in January and points to the continued resilience of the Canadian economy.

The loonie jumped on the news, as did Canadian government bond yields.

Other indicators point to an increasingly tight labour market in February. Total hours worked surged 3.6% to a record high, while the employment rate rose 1.0 percentage points to 61.8%. Gains were most notable in the hard-hit accommodation and food services sector (+114,000; +12.6%), and information, culture and recreation (+73,000; +9.9%) industries. Employment increases were widespread across provinces and demographic groups.

Average wages increased 3.1% from February 2020, significantly faster than the 2.4% rate recorded in January. That could signal that inflationary pressures, already intense, continue to build.

 

Bottom Line 

This Labour Force Survey was conducted in mid-February, before the start of the Ukrainian War. since then, many commodity prices have surged, especially oil, gasoline, aluminum, wheat and fertilizer. This will accelerate CPI inflation worldwide, which dampens consumer and business confidence and reduces family purchasing power. The war has also contributed to continuing supply disruptions, all of which point to increased uncertainty and potentially slower growth.

The Bank of Canada is likely to hike interest rates when it meets again on April 13 by 25 basis points. Any more than that is imprudent given the risk of an economic slowdown. The outlook for the remainder of this year is more uncertain and likely to be volatile, depending on how long the war lasts. Right now, the likelihood for another five or six rate hikes this year and a few more next year. This, however, is subject to change.

Dr. Sherry Cooper
Chief Economist, Dominion Lending Centres
drsherrycooper@dominionlending.ca

Why Didn’t the Bank of Canada Raise Interest Rates In January?

General Michelle Foster 4 Feb

Statistics Canada released the January Labour Force Survey this morning, reporting a much more extensive than expected decline in jobs last month. The Omicron shutdowns and restrictions took a much larger toll in Canada than expected, as employment fell 200,100 in January and the unemployment rate rose 0.5 percentage points to 6.5%.

Ontario and Quebec drove January employment declines, and accommodation and food services was the hardest-hit industry. In January, youth and core-aged women, who are more likely than other demographic groups to work in industries affected by the public health measures, saw the most significant impacts. Goods-producing sectors recorded a gain, led by construction.

We did not expect the Bank of Canada to hike rates in January because of the risk that Omicron restrictions would batter the economy at least temporarily. If we see a reversal in these declines in February, rate hikes could well commence. The Bank of Canada’s next policy-decision date is March 2. But we won’t see the Labour Force Survey for February until March 11. This could postpone lift-off by the BoC until the next meeting on April 13, when we will have both the February and March employment reports. This would put the first rate hike in April, exactly when the Bank’s forward guidance initially told us the hikes would begin. 

The timing of lift-off is subject to the incoming data. It is troubling that the US employment report, also released today for January, was surprisingly strong, in contrast. To be sure, the US did not impose Canadian-style Omicron restrictions last month, but the Omicron wave did depress US economic activity. It was expected to translate into weak hiring. It didn’t. 467,000 jobs were created in the US, and massive upward revisions suggest a fundamentally very strong US economy. With US companies desperate to hire and the most significant issue being the lack of qualified staff, wages are rising more sharply south of the border.

Canadian employment remains just over 30,000 above pre-pandemic levels, and the country has a strong track record of bouncing back after prior waves of the virus. Yet, today’s jobs numbers suggest a tough start for the Canadian economy in the first quarter. Hours worked — which is closely correlated to output — fell 2.2% in January, and the number of employees who worked less than half their usual hours jumped by 620,000. January also saw the first drop in full-time employment — down 82,700 — since June.

Average hourly wages grew 2.4% (+$0.72) on a year-over-year basis in January, down from 2.7% in November and December 2021 (not seasonally adjusted). The January 2022 year-over-year change was similar to the average annual wage growth of 2.5% observed in the five years from 2015 to 2019.

The concentration of January 2022 employment losses in lower-wage industries did not significantly impact year-over-year wage change, partly because employment in these industries experienced similar losses in January 2021 as a result of the third wave of COVID-19.

Bottom Line 

There remains uncertainty regarding when (not if) the Bank of Canada will begin to renormalize interest rates. Canadian swaps trading suggests markets are still expecting a hike on March 2, with five more hikes over the next year. Potential homebuyers are certainly anxious to get in under the wire.

Dr. Sherry Cooper
Chief Economist, Dominion Lending Centres
drsherrycooper@dominionlending.ca

Bank of Canada Holds Rates Steady Again

General Michelle Foster 26 Jan

It came as a surprise to many who were forecasting a 0.25% rate increase, but the Bank of Canada chose to maintain the overnight rate at 0.25%. What does this mean for your mortgage? Contact me today to discuss how your mortgage could be affected and what your options are!

Bank Will Hike Rates At Next Meeting
While markets were 70% certain the Bank would hike their overnight target rate today, we remained of the view that the Governing Council would hold off until March or April because of the slowdown in first-quarter growth arising from the Omicron restrictions. The Bank announced today that economic slack in the economy had been absorbed more rapidly than expected in late October when they last met. “Employment is above pre-pandemic levels, businesses are having a hard time filling job openings, and wage increases are picking up. Unevenness across sectors remains, the Governing Council judges the economy is now operating close to its full capacity.” Consequently, the Bank now believes that emergency measures arising from the pandemic are no longer necessary. They clearly state that a rising path for interest rates will be required to moderate domestic spending growth and bring inflation back to target. Being mindful that the increasing spread of Omicron will dampen spending in the first quarter, they decided to keep the policy rate unchanged today and to signal that rates will rise going forward. “The timing and pace of those increases will be guided by the Bank’s commitment to achieving the 2% inflation target.”Notably, the Bank also suggested that another vital policy measure to reduce demand and thereby control inflation is “quantitative tightening” (Q.T.), reducing the central bank’s holdings of Canadian government bonds on its balance sheet. This selling of bonds also raises interest rates. “The Bank will keep the holdings of Government of Canada bonds on our balance sheet roughly constant at least until we begin to raise the policy interest rate. At that time, we will consider exiting the reinvestment phase and reducing the size of our balance sheet by allowing maturing Government of Canada bonds to roll off. As we have done in the past, before implementing changes to our balance sheet management, we will provide more information on our plans.”The Bank of Canada is very concerned about maintaining its hard-won inflation-fighting credibility. Remember that while Canadian inflation is at a 30-year high–as it is in the rest of the world–at 4.8%, Canadian inflation pales compared to the 7.0% rate in the U.S. and 6.8% rate in the U.K. (see chart below). It is also below the pace of the Euro area. The Bank stated that “CPI inflation remains well above the target range and core measures of inflation have edged up since October. Persistent supply constraints are feeding through to a broader range of goods prices and, combined with higher food and energy prices, are expected to keep CPI inflation close to 5% in the first half of 2022. As supply shortages diminish, inflation is expected to decline reasonably quickly to about 3% by the end of this year and gradually ease towards the target over the projection period. Near-term inflation expectations have moved up, but longer-run expectations remain anchored on the 2% target. The Bank will use its monetary policy tools to ensure that higher near-term inflation expectations do not become embedded in ongoing inflation.”
Bottom LineIt surprises me that economists in Canada would expect the Bank to hike interest rates during a Covid lockdown without properly measured signalling beforehand. Bay St’s hysteria about inflation seems to have muddied thinking. The Bank will be taking out the big guns to get inflation under control. Overnight rate hikes begin at the next policy meeting on March 2 and then Quantitative Tightening shortly after that. The downsizing of the Bank’s balance could have even more dramatic effects on the shape of the yield curve, hiking longer-term interest rates. In today’s policy statement and Monetary Policy Report, the Bank emphasized the strength of the housing market and the impact on inflation of the more than 20% rise in Canadian house prices last year. The MPR suggests that housing market activity strengthened again in recent months, led by a rebound in existing home sales.” Low borrowing rates and high disposable incomes continue to contribute to elevated levels of housing activity in the first quarter. At the same time, other factors that support demand, such as population growth, are also now picking up.”Traders continue to bet that the Bank of Canada will hike interest rates by 25 basis points five or six times this year. This would take the overnight rate from 0.25% to 1.5% to 1.75%. It was 1.75% in February of 2020 before the pandemic easing began. Markets also expect two more rate hikes in 2023, taking the overnight rate to 2.25%. Volatility in financial markets has surged this year. The FOMC, the US policy-making body, announces its decision at 2 PM ET today. No rate hike is expected yet, but the Fed will undoubtedly commit to serious rate hikes and balance sheet contraction in the coming months.
 

Written by:

Dr. Sherry CooperChief Economist, Dominion Lending Centresdrsherrycooper@dominionlending.ca

Bank of Canada Holds Rates Steady – June 9 2021

General Michelle Foster 9 Jun

Bank of Canada Holds Rates and QE Steady–Asserting That Both the Upside in Inflation and the Downside in GDP is Temporary
The Bank of Canada left the benchmark overnight policy rate unchanged at 0.25% and maintained its current pace of GoC bond purchases at its current pace. The Governing Council renewed its pledge to refrain from raising rates until the damage from the pandemic is fully repaired. The $3 billion weekly pace of bond-buying–known as quantitative easing–will decline as the recovery proceeds. In April, at their last meeting, the Bank reduced the pace of GoC bond buying from $4 billion to $3 billion per week. The central bank was among the first from advanced economies to shift to a less expansionary policy in April when it accelerated the timetable for a possible interest-rate increase and pared back its bond purchases.

The Bank’s view regarding the domestic economy appears to be little changed despite the April Monetary Policy Report (MPR) overestimating Q1 GDP growth by 1.4 percentage points. Indeed, today’s Policy Statement notes that Q1 GDP growth was “a robust 5.6 percent” and that the details of the report point to “rising confidence and resilient demand.” Concerning Q2, the third wave lockdowns are “dampening economic activity…largely as anticipated.” Note that the April MPR projected 3.5% growth in Q2 GDP, while the consensus forecast currently sits at 0% for Q2, with downside risk.

The Bank also noted that “Recent jobs data show that workers in contact-sensitive sectors have once again been most affected. The employment rate remains well below its pre-pandemic level, with low-wage workers, youth and women continuing to bear the brunt of job losses.” The chart below shows that the labour market is still below the Bank’s target for a full recovery.

Bank of Canada Upbeat Over the Medium Term

“With vaccinations proceeding at a faster pace, and provincial containment restrictions on an easing path over the summer, the Canadian economy is expected to rebound strongly, led by consumer spending. Housing market activity is expected to moderate but remain elevated.”

On the inflation front, there were no surprises. The Statement says that inflation has risen to the top of the 1-3% control range due to base effects and gasoline prices. The rise in the core measures is blamed on temporary factors as well. The Bank anticipates headline inflation will stay around 3% through the summer before pulling back later in the year.On the cautious side, the BoC highlights that the labour market still has a way to go before healing. There’s also uncertainty surrounding COVID variants.

The concluding paragraph didn’t change much. It reiterates that there “remains considerable excess capacity” and that policy rates will stay at the lower bound until “economic slack is absorbed,” which the April MPR said was in 2022H2. Concerning further tapering, the “assessment of the strength and durability of the recovery” will guide that decision.

The C$ barely garnered a mention yet again, with the Statement noting the recent gains and accompanying rise in commodity prices. The market might view the lack of concern here as a green light for further strength.

Bottom Line

The Bank of Canada is looking through “transitory” ups in inflation and downs in GDP. With vaccination rates continuing to ramp up significantly, and provinces beginning a gradual reopening process, the economy will rebound substantially beginning in June.

Indeed, with the near-term growth outlook increasingly bright, concerns have shifted to rising production input prices and the prospect for a sharp recovery in consumer demand to stoke inflation pressures. For now, the BoC is positing that near-term increases in consumer price growth rates will prove ‘transitory.’ But there have also been signs of harder-to-dismiss firming in most measures of underlying price growth gauges, including the BoC’s own preferred core measures edging up towards or above the 2% inflation target.

July’s meeting will likely be a bit more interesting with the Bank issuing more details in another Monetary Policy Report. We don’t see any need for dramatic forecast revisions at this stage, and the BoC’s guidance that rates might have to start increasing in the second half of next year remains appropriate. It looks like the main question will be around further tapering of the BoC’s asset purchases. The BoC didn’t signal an imminent taper (we didn’t think it would) but said decisions regarding the pace of purchases would be guided by its assessment of the strength and durability of the recovery. If incoming data aligns with the BoC’s forecasts, we could see it reduce weekly bond-buying again in July to $2 billion per week from $3 billion. If not, September might serve as a backup as the bank seeks to prevent its footprint in the bond market (nearly 44% at the end of May) from becoming too large while at the same time setting itself up to shift QE to reinvestment only well in advance of the first interest rate hike.

Dr. Sherry Cooper
Chief Economist, Dominion Lending Centres
drcooper@dominionlending.ca

Bank of Canada Holds Rates and Bond-Buying Steady

General Michelle Foster 10 Mar

Much has changed since the Bank of Canada’s last decision on January 20. While the second pandemic wave was raging, new lockdowns were implemented in late 2020, and there were fears that the economy, in consequence, was likely to grow at a 4.8% annual rate in Q4 and contract in Q1. Instead, the lockdowns were less disruptive than feared, as Q4 growth came in at a surprisingly strong 9.6% annual rate–double the pace expected by the Bank.

Rather than a contraction in  Q1 this year, Statistics Canada’s flash estimate for January growth was 0.5% (not annualized). Strength in January came from housing, resources and government spending, and the mild weather likely helped. In today’s decision statement, the central bank acknowledged that “the economy is proving to be more resilient than anticipated to the second wave of the virus and the associated containment measures.”  The BoC now expects the economy to grow in the first quarter. “Consumers and businesses are adapting to containment measures, and housing market activity has been much stronger than expected. Improving foreign demand and higher commodity prices have also brightened the prospects for exports and business investment.”

A massive $1.9 trillion stimulus plan in the US is also about to turbocharge Canada’s largest trading partner’s economy, which will be a huge boon to the global economy and explains why commodity prices and bond yields have risen substantially in recent months. The Canadian dollar has been relatively stable against the US dollar but has appreciated against most other currencies.

Economists now expect Canada to expand at a 5.5% pace this year versus a 4% projection by the Bank of Canada in January. Going into today’s meeting, no one expected the Bank to raise the overnight policy rate, but markets were pricing in more than a 50% chance of an increase by this time next year, up from about 25% odds in January.

On the other hand, the BoC continued to emphasize the risks to the outlook and the huge degree of slack in the economy. “The labour market is a long way from recovery, with employment still well below pre-COVID levels. Low-wage workers, young people and women have borne the brunt of the job losses. The spread of more transmissible variants of the virus poses the largest downside risk to activity, as localized outbreaks and restrictions could restrain growth and add choppiness to the recovery.”

The Bank also attributed the recent rise in inflation was due to temporary factors. One year ago, many prices fell with the onslaught of the pandemic, so that year-over-year comparisons will rise for a while because of these base-year effects combined with higher gasoline prices pushed up by the recent run-up in oil prices. The Governing Council expects CPI inflation to moderate as these effects dissipate and excess capacity continues to exert downward pressure.

According to the policy statement, “While economic prospects have improved, the Governing Council judges that the recovery continues to require extraordinary monetary policy support. We remain committed to holding the policy interest rate at the effective lower bound until economic slack is absorbed so that the 2% inflation target is sustainably achieved. In the Bank’s January projection, this does not happen until 2023.” The Bank will continue its QE program to reinforce this commitment and keep interest rates low across the yield curve until the recovery is well underway.  As the Governing Council continues to gain confidence in the recovery’s strength, the pace of net purchases of Government of Canada bonds will be adjusted as required. The central bank will “continue to provide the appropriate monetary policy stimulus to support the recovery and achieve the inflation objective.”
Bottom Line

The Bank gave no indication when it might start to taper its bond-buying. The next decision date is on April 21, when a full economic forecast will be released in the April Monetary Policy Report. Governor Macklem is more dovish than many had expected and will err on the side of caution. When the central bank starts tapering its asset purchases, it will be the equivalent of easing off the accelerator rather than applying the brakes. The Bank of Canada has been buying a minimum of $4 billion in federal government bonds each week to help keep borrowing costs low. That pace may no longer be warranted with an outlook that appears to show the economy absorbing all excess slack by next year, ahead of the Bank of Canada’s 2023 timeline for closing the so-called output gap.

Longer-Term Yields are Rising Despite Central Bank Inaction

General Michelle Foster 23 Feb

While central banks hold overnight rates at record lows, anchoring short-term interest rates and the prime rate, mid-to-long-term government yields have been rising since early this month. As the chart below shows, the 5-year Government of Canada bond, upon which mortgage rates are generally tethered, are currently at 0.69%, up 27 basis points since January 29th. This is the highest 5-year yield since late-March 2020.  Canadian bond yields have increased more than in the US, perhaps due to the surge in commodity prices, most notably oil, which has climbed 16.9% in just the past month, taking the year-to-date gain to 27%.

Growing government debt arising from fiscal measures to cushion the blow of the pandemic and stimulate the economy has set the stage for higher government bond yields in much of the developed world.

Inflation concerns are mounting. In a rare move, yesterday Statistics Canada revised up its estimate of core inflation–unveiled only five days ago–from 1.5% to 1.77%. The result is an inflation picture that is more elevated than reported last week, at a time when investors are becoming more worried about global price pressures. The core CPI is the Bank of Canada’s preferred measure of underlying inflation, and it has rattled markets that it now appears to be running at nearly a 1.8% year-over-year pace.

While inflation is expected to accelerate in the coming months on higher energy costs, policymakers led by Governor Tiff Macklem see little immediate threat from rising prices, even with extraordinary levels of stimulus coursing through the economy. Despite a temporary pickup early this year, the Bank of Canada doesn’t anticipate inflation will sustainably return to its 2% target until 2023. Macklem speaks in Calgary later today, and he is likely to suggest that the Canadian economy is still far from an inflationary threshold.

Keep in mind that Canada’s economy has considerable slack with unemployment rising in recent months and the lockdown continuing for at least a couple more weeks in the GTA. Moreover, Canada has fallen far beyond other countries in the vaccine rollout.

The biggest vaccination campaign in history is currently underway. More than 209 million doses have been administered across 92 countries, according to data collected by Bloomberg News. The latest pace was roughly 6.24 million doses a day. Israel has administered more than 82 doses of vaccine per 100 people, the UK is at 27.5, and the US is at 19.3. Canada, on the other hand, has administered only 4.1 doses per 100 people, now ranking 43rd in the world (see chart below).

This slow start to the rollout likely portends a longer period of economic underperformance.

Bottom Line

Some upward pressure on fixed mortgage rates might be in store, although the Big Five Banks have yet to respond, and the qualifying rate remains at 4.79%, well above contract rates. Without any prospect of near-term tightening by the Bank of Canada, variable rate mortgage rates–typically tied to the prime rate–will remain stable. But mortgage rates have moved up at some of the non-bank lenders. No question, the economy’s trajectory and interest rates will be linked to the return to the ‘new normal’ following the pandemic. Good news on the pandemic front inevitably means higher mortgage rates in 2022-23–if not sooner.Blog post by Sherry Cooper

Canadian Jobs Market Tanks in December

General Michelle Foster 12 Jan

Canadian employment fell 62,600 last month, a bit weaker than expected, following seven months of recovery (see chart below). The rapid rise in COVID cases and the ensuing lockdown measures in many key regions caused the net loss in jobs in the mid-December survey. Especially hard hit were workers at restaurants and hotels who suffered a hefty 56,700 employment loss.

The jobless rate rose a tick to 8.6%–well below the peak of 13.7% in April–but still three percentage points above its pre-pandemic level.

However, there were some bright spots as several sectors churned out small gains (see second chart below). Among them were finance, insurance and real estate, as well as scientific and tech services. Manufacturing rose 15,400, and public administration reported solid gains.

On a positive note, full-time jobs actually rose 36,500, and average wages pushed back up and are now 5.6% higher than one year ago. This outsized gain, in part, reflects the loss in so many low-wage jobs.

Part-time jobs were down sharply in December, led by losses among workers aged 24 and under and those aged 55 and older. Also, the number of self-employed workers fell by 62,000, its lowest point since the pandemic began.

The December loss of jobs left employment down 571,600 (or -3.0%) from year-ago levels, the deepest annual decline since 1982–but far better than the April reading of -15% y/y. The 2020 job loss in Canada of -3.0% is also a relatively mild downturn compared to today’s US job market release for December, which reported a -6.2% y/y drop in employment. In Canada, the 332,300 y/y loss in accommodation and food services employment alone accounted for 58% of our annual job loss.

Employment was down in nine out of ten provinces last month. The lucky exception was British Columbia. None of the provinces stood out on the low side. The table below shows the unemployment rate by province. Jobless rates rise and fall with labour force participation rates. You are not considered unemployed if you are not seeking work. The number of people counted as either employed or unemployed dropped by 42,000 (-0.2%) in December, the first significant decline since April. Core-aged women and young males were largely responsible for the fall.

Bottom Line

It certainly doesn’t appear that the lockdowns will be lifted anytime soon. We keep hitting new records in the number of Covid cases, and the more contagious Covid variant is upon us. What’s more, the rollout of the vaccine has been disturbingly slow. So until winter is behind us, there is unlikely to be a meaningful opening of the economy. All things considered, Canada’s economy has been relatively resilient. That’s not surprising given the government income support–the most generous in the G7 countries. Moreover, financial conditions are extremely accommodative.

Although no one is coming through the pandemic unscathed, most of the employment losses have been lower-paying jobs. Many higher-income earners continue to work from home. And even though the pandemic is worsening, many of Canada’s housing markets recorded their strongest December ever. Rock-bottom interest rates, high household savings and changing housing needs turned 2020 into a spectacular year for housing activity.

According to local real estate boards, December resales were surprisingly strong for what is typically a quiet month. Existing home sales surged between 32% y/y in Montreal, Ottawa and Edmonton and 65% y/y in Toronto based on early results. More distant suburbs attracted many families looking for more space with less concern about long commutes when jobs can be conducted at home. Property values continued to appreciate at accelerating rates in most markets. Downtown condo prices still bucked the trend due to ample inventories in Canada’s largest cities—the downturn in the rental market has prompted many condo investors to sell. That said, softer condo prices are now drawing more buyers in. Existing condo sales soared virtually everywhere in December.

Housing is likely to continue to cushion the blow of the pandemic on the overall economy. And while not everyone is sharing in this windfall, it will ultimately help pave the way to better employment gains in the spring.

However, no question that the bright light at the end of the very dark pandemic tunnel is a widely dispersed vaccine. PM Trudeau reasserted this week that the vaccine will be available to all who want it by September 2021. At the pace, it is now getting into people’s arms, that will not happen. Just over 0.6% of Canada’s population was vaccinated as of Thursday, January 7. By comparison, the US had vaccinated 1.8% of its population by that date, and Israel had inoculated nearly 20%, according to Our World in Data, a nonprofit research project at the University of Oxford. The U.K. had vaccinated about 1.9% of its population by Jan. 3, the latest date for which vaccination numbers were available (see the chart below).

Please Note: The source of this article is from SherryCooper.com/category/articles/

Getting Your Home Winter Ready

General Michelle Foster 17 Nov

Winter is coming… With the changing of the seasons, it can be a good time to take stock of your home and ensure you are ready for the winter and it’s colder weather. To help you feel more comfortable, save on bills and prevent future repair costs, there are some simple things you can do to prepare for the coming season.

Tending to minor problems yourself, or booking a professional now, will save you time and aggravation later. Once the poor weather hit, it makes it harder to tackle home maintenance jobs!

MIND THE GAPS

Search exterior window frames, doors and siding for cracks and gaps where water could get in. Doors and windows commonly have gaps that let cold in and heat out. Some will be easy to fill or fix yourself but could save you money and damage down the line!

CHECK YOUR PIPES

Checking your pipe joints for leaks that could cause rot and damage will save you trouble in the future. Repair any cracks you find, especially those around electrical outlets and alarm system lines. Another tip is covering your pipes around your hot water tank. This will help them hold the heat in and keep the water warmer longer without fuel. Many inexpensive options are available for all tank and pipe sizes. Make use of blankets if you are on a budget!

INSULATION IS KEY!

On a snowy day go outside and look at your roof; you should see snow on the roof. If you can see your roof that means the attic is not insulated well, therefore heat is escaping and melting the snow. Almost any home can benefit from added insulation; invest in a good solution now to save you in the future. Foam pipe insulation is easy to install and can prevent energy loss and potential water damage from frozen pipes. Plus, if you find you are really having a hard time keeping the heat in, you can consider  insulated flooring! Massive heat loss occurs through your floors. Even an added area rug can improve insulation, and make sure to fill any gaps in your flooring with silicone.

SERVICE YOUR HEAT SOURCE

Before Winter starts, be sure to have a professional check and clean your heat sources. You should have your chimney cleaned regularly if heated by wood, or make sure to update your oil heater’s filters and service gas furnaces regularly. A technician can check for both efficiency and hazards.

MANAGE YOUR THERMOSTAT

As tempting as it is to turn your heat all the way up in the winter, proper thermostat management will help you save in the long run. Have your heat sources inspected for efficiency. Also be sure to check for gaps and drafts in your home to help it retain heat much better! By using a thermostat with a timer, you can save even more! Turn it on early so the room heats up in time for use versus cranking the heat when you need to get warm quickly. Have the heat turn off 30 minutes before bed or before leaving the home. If you find you are chilly at night, a safely positioned space heater and closed door will be much cheaper!

CLOSE THAT DOOR!

To keep your heating system from working too hard, close doors when rooms are not in use. This prevents heat transfer out of vacant rooms, and will ensure your active space remains warm and cozy.

CREATE A STORM KIT

A storm kit is a handy source of essential items in the event of losing power. Consider what you and your family might need. Some basics include a flashlight with new batteries, candles, matches, a portable radio, water and snacks. Keep your kit somewhere easy to access.

Credit-Free Christmas in 5 Steps

General Michelle Foster 6 Nov

The holidays are a beautiful time of year, filled with sparkling lights and delicious meals and overplayed tunes.

As much as these celebrations bring us joy and harmony, they can also bring us stress. This is particularly true when it comes to your finances! This year, aim for a credit-free Christmas! With a little planning, there are a few ways you can make sure your holidays are stress and credit-free.

MANAGE YOUR EXPECTATIONS

Do you remember how last year made you feel? Were your holidays refreshing? Or did you find them draining and you are still trying to figure out how to pay off your bills? In fact, most of us want holidays to be energizing and provide a feeling of togetherness, which comes down to more than just spending money. Deciding your expectations for the holidays, makes it easier to work towards things that create that result – and avoid things that don’t!

WHAT ARE YOUR GOALS?

What is your goal for the holiday? Are you looking to plan an extravagant black-tie party or more of a low-key celebration? Maybe you just want to hang out with lots of family and friends (and food!)? Or perhaps you would like to get away for the holidays? Share your thoughts with your family and make a decision that works for everyone. Talking about the holidays ahead of time puts everyone on the same page with no surprises.

CREDIT-FREE CHRISTMAS WITH A BUDGET

Once you have decided what your expectations and goals for the holiday, create a budget that works for you. Take a look at your monthly budget and determine what you have available. Whether you put money aside each month to tackle your list, or pick up a few items per paycheck, a little planning can go a long way to creating a credit-free Christmas! After you create your budget, you will want a list of everything you need. Not just individual gifts! Also make sure to take stock of any decorations, baking or food items, clothing or event tickets that you may need to invest in.

YOUR CREDIT-FREE CHRISTMAS STARTS NOW!

As someone who grew up with a mom who started holiday shopping in June, I know a good budget and early planning makes a difference. Instead of lumping your entire holiday budget into a couple paychecks, try shopping for gifts and cute decor all year long. Not only will this help you feel more organized, but it can help you manage your budget as well. Planning ahead and giving yourself more time allows you to scoop up incredible deals throughout the year (cue seasonal clearance sales) which means you can spread your budget even farther – without going over!

DON’T FEAR HELP

credit-free Christmas

The holidays are a time where we are supposed to share experiences and support each other. If you are hosting a big holiday dinner this year, don’t be afraid to ask your family to bring appies or drinks. If you are buying gifts for friends, set a limit or challenge everyone to make something by hand! Homemade gifts can often feel more special and it creates a fun exchange for you and your friends. There are many incredible ways to reduce stress and help get others involved so that the holiday is perfect for everyone.

BEYOND THE SPENDING

It is easy to get caught up in the consumerism and expectations of the holidays. Is dinner perfect? Did you buy enough gifts? Did you invite everyone? Is everyone happy? But don’t forget yourself in your efforts to please others.

Even though the holidays can feel hectic, it is important to celebrate YOU and be grateful for what you have – even if you weren’t able to check off all the boxes. Life happens, but the most important thing is that we live it while we can. This is also helpful for children as I am sure most of us would prefer our kids grew up grateful and happy, instead of in-debt and stressed due to preconceived notions of what holidays should be.

Your holiday is just that – YOURS. Spend it whichever way brings you the most joy and the least amount of stress on your pocketbook.

Getting a Mortgage When You’re New to Canada

General Michelle Foster 5 Nov

Canada has seen a surge of international migration over the last few years. In 2019, we welcomed a total of 313,580 immigrants to the country! This is an increase of 40,000 individuals when compared to 2017 numbers.

New to Canada Mortgages

According to planned immigration levels, it is estimated that Canada will receive 341,000 permanent residents in 2020. In 2021, we are expecting 351,000 and 361,000 in 2022. Federal Immigration Minister, Marco Mendicino, stated that by 2022, “the year’s new permanent residents in Canada will account for one per cent of the population”.

With all these new faces wanting to plant roots in this great country, we wanted to touch base on how new immigrants can qualify to be homeowners!

PERMANENT RESIDENTS

If you are already a Permanent Resident or have received confirmation of Permanent Resident Status, you are eligible for a typical mortgage with a 5% down payment – assuming you have good credit.

NOT YET PERMANENT RESIDENTS OR HAVE LIMITED CREDIT

For Permanent Residents with limited credit, or individuals who have not yet qualified for Permanent Residency, there are still options! In fact, there are several ‘New to Canada’ mortgage programs. These are offered by CMHC, Sagen and Canada Guaranty Mortgage Insurance, and cater to this group of homebuyers.

NEW TO CANADA PROGRAMS

To qualify for New to Canada programs, you must have immigrated or relocated to Canada within the last 60 months and have had three months minimum full-time employment in Canada.

Individuals looking for 90% credit, a letter of reference from a recognized financial institution. Or, you will be required to provide six (6) months of bank statements from a primary account.

If you are seeking credit of 90.01% to 95%, you will need to produce an international credit report (Equifax or Transunion) demonstrating a strong credit profile. Or you will need to provide two alternative sources of credit, which demonstrate timely payments for the past 12 months. The alternative sources must include rental payment history and another alternative. This could be hydro/utilities, telephone, cable, cell phone or auto insurance.

ALTERNATIVE LENDERS

Another option for New to Canada residents, depending on your residency status and credit history, are alternative lenders such as B-Lenders and MIC’s (Mortgage Investment Operation). If you do not qualify for the New to Canada programs, or a standard mortgage, reach out to a DLC Mortgage Broker and they can help you navigate the alternative options!

New to Canada? What to do before submitting your mortgage application

Utilizing a mortgage professional will ensure you understand your options. They can also help determine the best program and mortgage choice for you. Before you talk with a mortgage professional, there are a few things you need to know when it comes to submitting an application – and getting approved – for your first mortgage in Canada:

SUPPORTING DOCUMENTS!

If you’re new to the country but have weak credit, supporting documents will be needed. These may include: proof of income, 12 months worth of rental payments or letter from landlord, documented savings, bank statements and/or letter of reference from recognized financial institution. These documents all paint the picture of whether you are a safe investment for a lender.

BUILD YOUR CREDIT RATING!

This is one of the most important aspects to getting a mortgage! Your credit rating determines your reliability as a borrower. In turn, this will determine your down payment rate. A great way to build your credit is by getting a credit card to use and pay off each month. Paying other bills such as utilities, cell phones and rent can also contribute to your credit score and reliability.

START SAVING! 

One of the most expensive aspects of home ownership is the down payment, which is an upfront cost but is vital to securing your future. As mentioned, the down payment can either be 5% or 10% depending on your status. However, if the purchase price exceeds $500,000, the minimum down payment will be 5% for the first $500,000 and 10% of any amount over $500,000 – regardless of your residency status.

CHOOSE A MORTGAGE PROVIDER! 

Once you are ready to get your mortgage, you need get in touch with a local mortgage professional. They can help you review your options and find the best mortgage product to suit your needs.

Buying a house is an exciting step for anyone, but especially for individuals who are new to the country. As daunting as it may seem, purchasing a home is completely possible with a little knowledge and preparation. If you are new to Canada and looking to get a mortgage, connect with a DLC Mortgage Professional today for expert advice and options that best suit you!

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