Thursday, February 23, 2012

Immigrants the proudest Canadians, poll suggests

For Mortgages contact Amy Wilson
Most Canadians feel immigrants are just as likely to be good citizens as people who were born here, a recent Environics survey suggests.
Canadians also don't appear to have problems with dual citizenship or with Canadian citizens living abroad.
The telephone survey is, according to Environics, the first poll to directly ask Canadians their views on citizenship. Its results suggest Canadians have a broad, inclusive view of the concept and of immigrants in general.
"To be a good citizen, it means to contribute to the society, to obey the laws of the country, to help other citizens, to volunteer, and it's a rewarding feeling when you do all those things," said Sara Jhangiryan, an Armenian-born resident of Toronto who became a Canadian citizen last year.
"It's not only to take what the country offers but to give back, as well."
Although not part of the survey, Jhangiryan echoes the views of many of those who responded to the poll, a joint initiative of Environics, the Institute for Canadian Citizenship, the Maytree foundation, CBC News and the Royal Bank of Canada.
When asked what makes a good citizen, the top five responses were: obeying laws, actively participating in the community, helping other people, being tolerant of others and sharing or adopting Canadian values.
But when asked to list what they did to be good citizens, respondents cited volunteer work, being kind/generous to others, paying taxes, obeying laws and voting.
The survey suggests Canadians see immigrants as their equals: nearly 9 out of every 10 respondents agreed that a person born outside Canada is just as likely to be a good citizen as someone born here.
"There's no real evidence of people feeling threatened or a sense that, 'Well, people can come live here from other countries, but they're not quite the same,'" said Keith Neuman, executive director of the Environics Institute.
When it comes to immigration and citizenship, the views of the majority of Canadians born in the country and the 20 per cent born outside it are largely aligned. Canadian-born and foreign-born respondents were equally likely to feel fully like citizens (78 per cent versus 75 per cent).
Usha George, dean of Ryerson University's Faculty of Community Services, says the survey's findings confirm a lot of what those working with new Canadians know already.
The willingness of Canadians to not view a person's foreign background as an impediment to citizenship is a product of the country's multicultural policies and the visible effect of immigrants on the economy, George said.
Integration of immigrants has worked in Canada because the government has funded programs that teach immigrants about Canadian values and society has adapted its institutions to accommodate diversity.
"The mutual recognition that we should be respectful to each other and celebrate diversity in a genuine way, those values permeate the whole society,” said George, whose faculty trains many of those who provide social and other services to new immigrants.
Whatever Canada is doing, it seems to be positively influencing immigrants' views of the country, the survey suggests: 88 per cent of respondents who were born outside Canada said they were very proud to be Canadian, compared with 81 per cent of those born here.
"Canadians who were not born in Canada are more proud than naturally born Canadians simply because we had the choice of being Canadian," said Vikram Kewalramani, who immigrated to Canada in 2006 from India. "It wasn't something that, literally, was a birthright. We consider it a privilege."
For Amal Ibrahim, a Palestinian who became a citizen last year along with her two children, Canadian citizenship is primarily about respecting differences.
"It's a great diverse culture where people learn how to live in harmony with each other while they have different ideas, different religions and different backgrounds," she said.
Tolerance of others who are different was among the top five behaviours survey respondents considered a "very important" part of being a good citizen. Others were:
Treating men and women equally (95 per cent ranked this "very important").
Following Canada's laws (89 per cent).
Voting in elections (82 per cent – the same as tolerance of others).
Protecting the environment (80 per cent).
Immigrants' views of what makes a good citizen were strikingly similar to those of native-born Canadians, said Neuman. In the majority of cases, the responses of the two groups varied at most by only a few percentage points.
"People might think … that newcomers are coming [into] this country … with their own sense of what it means to be a citizen, and they don't really buy into the same perspective that native-born Canadians have," he said.
"And this research pretty clearly suggests that they're largely the same perspective, and the more somebody is in this country, the more immigrants buy into the native-born view."
Canadians are generally satisfied with the rules for obtaining citizenship, the survey suggests. Only 26 per cent of respondents said the rules were not strict enough. Six per cent felt the rules were too strict, though that number tripled for permanent residents.
Canada's willingness to allow multiple citizenships also got broad approval in the survey: 71 per cent of those surveyed felt Canadians should be allowed to hold dual citizenship.
That sentiment was even higher among 18- to 44-year-olds, with 80 per cent supporting dual citizenship, but lower for those 60 and over, at 58 per cent.
"I am equally proud of both citizenships," said Natasha Nikolovska-Angelova, 32, who became a Canadian citizen last April. "Macedonia is more like my mother … the country where I was raised, and Canada is the country I chose to live in. It's like the spouse you choose.… It's the country of my future."
Nikolovska-Angelova is part of the roughly 2.8 per cent of Canadians who hold at least one other citizenship.
Most of those surveyed also didn't have a problem with Canadians living abroad. Sixty-six per cent of respondents who were born in Canada said it was generally a good thing to allow Canadian citizens to live abroad, compared to 55 per cent of respondents born outside of Canada.
The survey of 2,376 adults was conducted between Nov.18 and Dec. 17 and has an overall margin of error of plus or minus two percentage points 19 times out of 20 (+/- 4.3 percentage points for the foreign-born subsample group). Only households with landlines were surveyed.

Tuesday, February 14, 2012

Housing market expected to remain steady: CMHC

OTTAWA — Canada's housing market will remain steady this year and through 2013, with home prices expected to rise moderately, Canada Mortgage and Housing Corp. said Monday
"With the Canadian economy set to expand at a moderate pace and mortgage rates expected to remain low, activity levels in 2012 in both new home construction and sales of existing homes will stay close to levels seen in 2011," said CMHC deputy chief economist Mathieu Laberge.
Housing starts will total 190,000 units in 2012 and 193,800 units next year, according to the government agency.
Sales will amount to about 457,300 units this year 468,200 units in 2013, it said.

Contact Amy Wilson for your mortgage needs today, Amy Wilson 7809190475 or

Thursday, February 9, 2012

Canadian banks call truce in easy-money mortgage battle

grant robertson — BANKING REPORTER

From Thursday's Globe and Mail
Published Wednesday, Feb. 08, 2012 7:43PM EST

Canada’s mortgage party has come to an abrupt halt.
The bonanza of dirt-cheap mortgages offered by some of the country’s biggest lenders in recent weeks has been shut down sooner than expected, as banks pull their offers in the face of higher funding costs and concerns over dwindling profit margins.
On Wednesday, Toronto-Dominion Bank (TD-T79.090.260.33%) pulled discount mortgage rates that were supposed to be available until the end of the month. Royal Bank of Canada (RY-T53.930.350.65%) did the same on Tuesday.
RBC and TD were both offering four-year fixed-rate mortgages with a 30-year-amortization at 2.99 per cent, and had announced plans to keep those rates in place until the end of the month.
The offers were in response to Bank of Montreal (BMO-T58.600.480.83%) offering five-year fixed-rate mortgages over 25 years at 2.99 per cent, which observers said is the lowest in recent memory. Though BMO’s move was a two-week offer that was eventually halted, it led RBC and TD to match the rival bank with extended offers to avoid losing market share.
Hints that an economic recovery is taking hold in the United States are putting upward pressure on rates. A slight increase in bond yields this month has forced RBC and TD to pull their mortgage offers weeks ahead of schedule, an indication of just how slim lending margins are for banks in the current environment. Benchmark five-year Government of Canada bond yields have gone up 17 basis points since the start of February.
“The rates coming down were in response to a very aggressive move by a competitor and a need for us to defend our client base, and to defend our business. We didn’t lead it there, but we felt compelled to follow,” David McKay, group head of Canadian banking at RBC, said in an interview Wednesday.
“When that market attacker corrected and raised their rates, it enabled us to say funding costs are going up, we’re not making enough spread at this rate ... and we need to raise pricing because the cost of funds is going up.”
In an improving economy, expectations of inflation taking hold gradually push up bond yields and lending rates. Government of Canada five-year bond yields reached a two-month high of 1.416 per cent on Wednesday.
“Rates can go up and down, depending on conditions. The new rates reflect rising bond yields and the subsequent increase in the cost of funds,” TD spokesman Mohammed Nakhooda said.
In response, TD and RBC both increased their four-year, fixed-rate mortgages to 3.39 per cent, an increase of 40 basis points. BMO has also raised its rates to similar levels.
“We have seen some modest backup in Canadian bond yields in recent weeks, amid growing optimism on the global economic outlook – and in particular an improving U.S. outlook,” said Doug Porter, deputy chief economist at BMO. “In turn, this has put some upward pressure on borrowing costs.”
The banks, which will begin reporting quarterly earnings at the end of the month, aren’t saying whether the deep discounts on mortgages led to a boom in new business. However, anecdotal evidence gathered from inside the mortgage community Wednesday suggested a flurry of activity has taken place since mid-January.
The lower rates came at a time when Ottawa is trying to warn consumers against taking on too much debt, worried that household debt levels across the country are rising too quickly. Sources indicated last week that officials in Ottawa were not happy with the price war the banks were waging on mortgages, since it potentially encouraged people to borrow more.
Frank Techar, head of personal and commercial banking in Canada for BMO. said BMO began offering the 2.99-per-cent rate as a way to promote its 25-year mortgages, rather than 30-year amortizations. “We went to 2.99 per cent to draw attention to the benefits of having a mortgage with a maximum amortization of 25 years,” he said.

Edmonton’s bedroom communities shake off their sleepy image

EDMONTON - Beaumont was the fastest growing community in metro Edmonton, adding another 4,323 people since 2006, a 48-per-cent increase.
The City of Leduc was close behind with an impressive 43-per-cent growth rate
Spruce Grove came in third in the regional growth sweepstakes with 33 per cent while St. Albert, the biggest community after Edmonton, recorded the lowest — 6.4 per cent growth.
The Edmonton area grew by about 125,000 since 2006, with about 81,829 people moving to Edmonton, an 11-per-cent rate of growth. About one-third of the newcomers — 42,668 — settled in regional municipalities.
Beaumont was among the 10 fastest growing small communities nationwide.
“It’s great to among the fastest growing communities in the country,” said Camille Berube, mayor of Beaumont which saw its population it 13, 284.
Even with the economic downturn two years ago, Beaumont continued to grow as a popular home for young families, Berube said, noting the average age is 31.
The bedroom community south of Edmonton, the town relies 95 per cent on property taxes, he said, and those tax rates are about the middle of the pack in the region.
Like Beaumont, nearby Leduc also continued to grow through the downturn, said Mayor Greg Krischke. That’s thanks to the city’s “stable economy,” driven by the nearby Nisku energy industrial park, he said.
“At the height of the boom in 2007, the city had 1,100 housing starts and it’s been 400 to 600 annually ever since,” Krischke said.
“I anticipate the same growth for another decade.”
In the past few years, Leduc has attracted more people who work in Edmonton, he said. Currently, about 25 per cent of Leduc residents work in the capital, up from about 20 per cent a few years ago.
That’s no surprise, he said. As Edmonton stretched south, people discovered lower housing prices and the “great quality of life in Leduc” he said.
At the current rate of growth, Leduc will soon outgrow the library, police station and other facilities. That will require major expenditures, he said.
Spruce Grove Mayor Stuart Houston said the strong growth in the region can be attributed to the oil industry. “The oil industry is the backbone of the Edmonton area and it will only get stronger.”
Continued growth will mean some expensive infrastructure work, including expansion of the regional waste water treatment plant in Fort Saskatchewan, serves Spruce Grove, St. Albert, Stony Plain, Houston said.
“We’ll need the feds to get in on that. Municipalities only get eight cents of ever tax dollars,” he noted.
St. Albert Mayor Nolan Crouse said his city has maintained modest growth rate for decades, partly because it doesn’t have a supply of housing for first-time buyers.
Also, there’s no major industry, such as refinery or airport, on the doorstep to attract workers, he said, adding the city needs to attract its share of young families.
“We don’t want to become a retirement community.”
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