Of Al­berta pop­u­la­tion growth and the stress test as an elec­tion is­sue

Calgary Sun - Homes - - Homes -

While pop­u­la­tion growth in­flu­ences hous­ing, the source of the growth is more telling in how much ef­fect over­all growth will have on hous­ing.

Growth is al­ways mea­sured in net num­bers in the cat­e­gories of nat­u­ral growth (to­tal births mi­nus to­tal deaths) and im­mi­gra­tion (in­ter­provin­cial and in­ter­na­tional) as the dif­fer­ence be­tween those ar­riv­ing and those leav­ing.

Over the last five years, Al­berta has av­er­aged a nat­u­ral growth of 8,000 per quar­ter. Nat­u­ral growth will af­fect hous­ing if par­ents need larger ac­com­mo­da­tions for their grow­ing fam­i­lies, with the big­gest ef­fect likely felt in newly built homes in the sub­urbs, where prices are lower.

Per­ma­nent in­ter­na­tional im­mi­gra­tion has been av­er­ag­ing close to a net of 9,000 per quar­ter, says ATB. In­ter­na­tional im­mi­grants are likely to look for homes in ar­eas that have larger num­bers of peo­ple from the coun­tries they came from, which could be in es­tab­lished neigh­bour­hoods or new, de­vel­op­ing neigh­bour­hoods.

“The num­ber of tem­po­rary res­i­dents has fluc­tu­ated with eco­nomic con­di­tions, rang­ing from a pos­i­tive net in­flow of over 7,500 in 2013 to a net out­flow of about the same amount in 2015,” says ATB. “Tem­po­rary res­i­dents in­clude in­ter­na­tional stu­dents and work­ers un­der the tem­po­rary for­eign worker pro­gram.”

De­pend­ing on how long tem­po­rary res­i­dents plan, or are al­lowed, to stay in Al­berta, they are most likely to rent hous­ing. The area where pop­u­la­tion fluc­tu­a­tion has had the most ef­fect on Al­berta is in­ter­provin­cial mi­gra­tion.

“Be­fore the re­ces­sion, this had con­sis­tently brought in 5,000 to 10,000 net new peo­ple each quar­ter,” says ATB. “Be­tween 2015 and 2017, how­ever, Al­berta ex­pe­ri­enced a net out­flow of mi­grants to other prov­inces. It has re­cently re­turned to slightly pos­i­tive in 2018.”

Un­til in­ter­provin­cial mi­gra­tion re­gains its strength, Al­berta can­not claim to be com- pletely out of the re­ces­sion.

And now the stress test.

I’ve spilled a lot of ink on it over the last few weeks and now it looks like it will be a fed­eral elec­tion is­sue next year.

Cana­dian Real Es­tate Wealth (CREW) is re­port­ing on­line that Cal­gary Con­ser­va­tive Mem­ber of Par­lia­ment, Tom Kmiec, has pledged to put the stress test on the agenda for the elec­tion in Oc­to­ber 2019.

“It will be an elec­tion is­sue, ab­so­lutely,” Kmiec told CREW. “I’m will­ing to use pro­ce­dural tools to get this study done. I’m not nec­es­sar­ily say­ing to get rid of B-20 com­pletely; I’m say­ing take a look at the data and then make a de­ci­sion on it. I’m ask­ing the Lib­er­als to pro­vide any in­ter­nal doc­u­ments they have show­ing why the mort­gage rules were in­tro­duced in the first place.”

As the deputy shadow min­is­ter for fi­nance on the Stand­ing Com­mit­tee of Fi­nance, Kmiec has twice tabled mo­tions this year to re­view the im­pacts of the stress test, known as B-20. Real es­tate boards, real es­tate com­pa­nies, the Cana­dian Home Builders’ As­so­ci­a­tion and other or­ga­ni­za­tions have all ac­knowl­edged the stress test is pre­vent­ing thou­sands of Cana­di­ans, par­tic­u­larly first-time buy­ers, from get­ting into home­own­er­ship. De­spite this, the Lib­eral ma­jor­ity on the com­mit­tee twice re­jected Kmiec’s mo­tions, with­out so much as read­ing them.

Kmiec told CREW he won’t wait for the elec­tion cam­paign to be­gin to re­new his pur­suit of a stress test re­view.

“If it comes down to it, I’m happy to use up ev­ery two-hour time limit on ev­ery sin­gle com­mit­tee un­til we agree to do a mort­gage study,” he said. “I’m not ask­ing for the moon, ei­ther. All I want are a few meet­ings in Ot­tawa where we can in­vite peo­ple with data who can then tell us what’s hap­pen­ing with the mar­ket.”

Kmiec has launched a web­site about the stress test at www.StudyB20.ca

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