Canadians ignoring warnings about debt

Photographer: Martin Vorel

Photographer: Martin Vorel


“Canadians have heard the message over and over again, from the Bank of Canada, the Parliamentary Budget Office and even the credit industry itself: Personal debt levels are alarmingly high, especially in light of interest rates that are only poised to increase,” wrote Solomon Isreal for CBC News on June 29, 2017.

Isreal continued, “Why aren’t those warnings convincing Canadians to borrow less? The answer may lie in a combination of blissful financial ignorance, economic incentives to keep borrowing and complex subconscious attitudes towards debt.

‘We’re comfortable carrying debt’

Credit counselling experts say many Canadians simply don’t understand how precarious their finances truly are, especially as ballooning home prices and a stable economy make people feel wealthy.

“As long as people are out going to work every day, earning an income, it’s easy to perceive that they’re managing their finances,” said Laurie Campbell, CEO of non-profit Credit Canada Debt Solutions.

Until the fallout from high debt levels leads to a collective economic crisis such as a recession, said Campbell, individual Canadians will continue to ignore the risks.

Read the full article here. 

Could Canadians say goodbye to the $5 bill?

Photographer: Lena Bell

Photographer: Lena Bell


“Foonie doesn’t really work, so Canadians will have to put on their thinking caps to figure out a name for the $5 coin,” wrote Don Pittis for CBC News on June 27, 2017.

Pittis continued, “As the loonie turns 30 this week, painful though it may be, we must inevitably begin to prepare ourselves to say goodbye to our blue Wilfrids.

This is not an inside scoop from the Bank of Canada; officially there is no plan to kill the bill.

But there is evidence it is already on the minds of Canadians: The Royal Canadian Mint includes a query about a $5 coin in its list of frequently asked questions.

‘Cost-saving measure’

“The decision to issue a new circulation coin is the responsibility of the Canadian government,” says the mint’s answer to that FAQ. “There are currently no plans to make $5 coins or discontinue the $5 bill.”

However the final line of the FAQ could be taken as a hint: “The $2 coin was introduced as a cost-saving measure in 1996.”

In other words, it has been more that 20 years since the last time a bill was replaced by a money-saving coin.

You can see why the mint would want to soften us up in advance.”

Read the full article here. 

Alcohol conditions send more to hospitals then heart attacks

Photographer: Adam Wilson

Photographer: Adam Wilson

“There were more hospital admissions in Canada last year for alcohol-related conditions than for heart attacks,” wrote Sherry Noik for CBC News on June 22, 2017.

Noik continued, “Alcohol poisoning, alcohol withdrawal, liver disease, chronic alcohol abuse and other conditions that are “100 per cent caused by the harmful consumption of alcohol” accounted for about 77,000 admissions, according to a report released Thursday by the Canadian Institute for Health Information (CIHI).

That’s 212 each day, on average, not including those who were treated in emergency departments and released.

The 2015–2016 year was the first time CIHI has looked at this statistic, believing that its impact on the health system can provide insight generally into the harms caused by alcohol.”

Read the full article here. 

Annual cancer statistics report estimates 1 in 2 Canadians will get cancer

Photographer: Chanan Greenblatt

Photographer: Chanan Greenblatt

“Almost one in every two Canadians is expected to be diagnosed with cancer in their lifetime, and one in four Canadians will die from the disease, a new report by the Canadian Cancer Society predicts,” wrote The Canadian Press posted on CBC News on June 20, 2017.

The Canadian Press continued, “In 2017, an estimated 206,200 Canadians will be diagnosed with some form of cancer and an estimated 80,800 will succumb to their malignancy — making cancer the leading cause of death in Canada, the charitable organization said Tuesday in its annual cancer statistics report.

“Currently, every year we’re seeing an increase in the number of cancer cases in Canada,” said the society’s epidemiologist, Leah Smith. “So between now and 2030, for example, we expect to continue to see a dramatic increase in the number of cancers diagnosed in Canada.

“That is a reflection of the growing and aging population,” she said. “About 90 per cent of all the cancers that we expect to be diagnosed in 2017 will be among Canadians 50 years of age and older.”

About 45 per cent of those cases will occur in people age 70 and older, said Smith, noting that as more people move into old age, the number of cancer cases will rise.”

Read the full article here. 

London police investigate deadly highrise fire

Photographer: Skitter Photo

Photographer: Skitter Photo

“Firefighters extinguished the last of the flames in the devastating west London blaze as they searched for more victims Thursday, a day after the highrise apartment building fire that killed at least 17 people. Entire families were missing, and the death toll is certain to rise,” wrote The Associated Press for CBC News on June 15, 2017.

The Associated Press continued, “Fire commissioner Dany Cotton said authorities genuinely don’t know how many people died and firefighters have been traumatized by the inability to save more people.

“Tragically now we are not expecting to find anyone else alive,” Cotton told Sky News. “The severity and the heat of the fire will mean that it will be an absolute miracle for anyone to be left alive.”

“I spoke to one of my officers who was very near when someone came out the window, and he was in tears and he is a professional fire officer,” Cotton said. “We like to think of ourselves as ‘roughty, toughty’ and heroes — they are heroes — but they have feelings, and people were absolutely devastated by yesterday’s events.” 

More than 200 firefighters worked through the night and parts of the building were still seen as being unsafe. Now that the smoke has cleared, the public could only gape at the huge burned-out hulk in the working class, multi-ethnic neighbourhood.”

Read the full article here. 

Could car dealerships be out of business in a decade?

Photographer: Mike Birdy

Photographer: Mike Birdy

“The time-honoured tradition of buying a shiny new sports car or a chrome-lined pickup truck from a lot may no longer exist a decade from now, according to a new report that paints a bleak future for auto dealerships in North America,” wrote Meegan Read for CBC News on June 13, 2017.

Read continued, “According to a study from RethinkX, an independent think tank in San Francisco, greater demand for electric cars, coupled with increased demand for ride sharing, will eventually eliminate the need for dealerships altogether.

The authors of the report — technology investor James Arbib and Stanford University economist Tony Seba — aren’t the first to prognosticate the death of dealerships, but it is the speed with which they think it will happen that is notable.

They believe it will occur in the next seven years.

It’s the “radically lower cost” of ride-sharing and electric vehicles that “really drives the speed and the adoption scale of this disruption we’re forecasting,” said Arbib.”

Read the full article here. 

Evolution of outdoor activities could include video-conferencing

Photographer: Peter Lloyd

Photographer: Peter Lloyd

“The first day of summer is just two weeks away and that means unplugging from technology and heading out to beaches, barbecues and outdoor activities. Or does it? New Canadian research suggests the next big thing in summertime fun might be video-conferencing,” wrote Dan Misener for CBC News on June 6, 2017.

Misener continued, “The new research — published in Human-Computer Interaction — comes from Simon Fraser University in British Columbia, and it’s all about using live video like Skype or FaceTime or Google Hangouts to share outdoor experiences between friends and family members; basically, video-conferencing while you’re outside, having fun.

The researchers recognized that video-conferencing is on the rise in corporate and professional environments, and it’s also increasingly popular for family and friends to stay in touch. But most video-conferencing happens indoors, so the question becomes what are some of the ways we might use this technology outside?

Now, outdoor video-conferencing is not hugely popular at the moment. We don’t see a lot of people Skyping at the beach, or FaceTiming while they’re on a picnic, but the team at Simon Fraser believes it’s coming, and that it’s a natural extension of the ways in which we use video today. They wanted to get ahead of that trend and investigate the potential, the limitations and the potential challenges.”

Read the full article here. 


CMCH decline in newly insured mortgages

“Canada’s housing agency saw a sharp decline in the number of home buyers who qualified for mortgage insurance under tougher rules implemented last fall,” wrote Pete Evans for CBC News on May 30, 2017.

Evans continued, “In its quarterly financial results posted Tuesday, the Canada Mortgage and Housing Corporation said that it insured just over 48,000 new mortgages between January and March, a 41 per cent decline from the previous three-month period.

The value of those loans dropped to just under $8.3 billion, down from $14.3 billion in the quarter that closed out 2016.

The January to March period in question is the first full quarter since Ottawa changed the mortgage rules last October. Among the new rules is a requirement that borrowers pass a “stress test” to gauge their ability to pay back the loan if mortgage rates were to rise.

The goal of that policy effectively was to make it harder to get insurance, which would help make sure that people buying houses are financially able to do so. Judging by Tuesday’s numbers, that policy seems to be having its desired effect, as the CMHC said the new regulations were the biggest factor in the decline in new insured mortgages.”

Read the full article here. 


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