Canada Business – Where to Now?

In “Canadian Economy Not Out of The Woods Yet” , John Morrissey from TheOTT-PeaceTower-flag_lrg Finanacial Post, tries to rain on my Canada Day, but I didn’t let him.

It is a reality that the economy contracted .1% in April, after a 5.4% drop in the first quarter of this year, but the whole tone of the article is incredibly discouraging, with the heaviest focus on how the American economy is going to effect us.

My question is always why are we only focusing on the American consumer? Let’s look back to a few weeks ago when Goldman Sach’s predicted the Australian, British and Canadian economies to be the leaders out of the recession.

The Americans are our neighbours, our partners, and I believe that we should fully support them through their recovery, but there’s enough Canadian to go around. If you’re an ad agency, are you going to wait for your American clients to start spending money again? If you’re selling t-shirts, do you think they don’t wear t-shirts in brazil?

Let’s of course not forget our cross-provincial business relationships. I sometimes think that we’re so used to crossing the border, that we can forget to cross the mountains, the prairies, and the lakes.

I knock on doors, all around the world, all day long, because when one time zone closes down, another opens.  This isn’t 1932 where I have to wait for the telegram to arrive.  We can connect with anyone, anywhere, anytime.

There are thousands of economies available to work with – someone needs what you’re selling.

The question is: are you going to wait? Or are you going to hunt?

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They’re just shameful aren’t they?

948west7thave.jpgI actually had a little bit of milk escape out my nose when I read this opening line today:

” Condominium markets in Vancouver and Victoria will offer solid opportunities in 2008 for first-time homebuyers looking for accessible, affordable housing in the province’s major urban centres,”

This little tidbit was offered by the Good Folks of Genworth Financial – “The HomeOwnership People” – whose president goes on to be quoted as saying:

“And with innovative mortgage solutions available, it makes that first-time purchase more accessible and affordable than ever” 

Yea, ’cause “innovative” mortgage solutions worked so well in the U.S.

I won’t bring out all the charts and statistics to show just how wrong a Vancouver condo purchase is (I’ve done that here) and I’ll only quickly mention that their numbers are wrong – they have 2007 condo prices at $328k when we ended 2007 with apartment prices of $377k; we haven’t been $328k since somewhere around July 2006. 

All that I want to know is –  do you think they feel a little dirty writing this stuff?  

**********

In case we forget that real estate does drop in value in Vancouver:

I’ve read this piece several times, but found it today posted on vancouvercondo.info – It was posted by “A” who gave credit to “Da Mann”

A flash from the past :

1. “Price stability, rather than decline, would be expected for most of the housing stock . . . since underlying home ownership demand remains strong due to continued high immigration.” (Frank Clayton, January 18th 1981 in the Sun. link The market crashed by about 50% over the following year. )

2. Renaud said he thinks that the trend to prices for houses has been broken by a temporary lull and that by [next year] or so prices will be equal to or greater than peak prices. (Claude Renaud, VP of Mortgage Insurance Canada on April 14, 1982. link The market took 26 quarters (over 6 years) to regain its peak in real terms.)

3. “To those who are waiting for Vancouver house prices to collapse, I can only advise them not to hold their breath . . . Unless there is a major recession or significant depopulation, house prices are unlikely to drop significantly.” (Jerry Jackman, VP Royal Lepage, November 18, 1988 in the Vancouver Sun. link In 1989, prices started to drop – with an eventual 30% or so drop. Real prices did not attain these heights again for 58 quarters, or around 15 years.)

4. “We are definitely in a transition market in areas such as the West Side, Vancouver East, and Burnaby . . . it is too early to tell if the market will stall.” (Jerry Jackman, April 20th 1989 in the Province. link Prices did not recover in real terms until 15 years later.)

5. “It is unlikely that prices will decline significantly.” (JJ again, July 18th 1989 in the Sun. link)

6. “The whole world wants Vancouver because everybody is moving here now and everything points up, up, up.” (Realtor David Goodman, December, 1989 in the Sun. link The market did not reach these heights again for 15 years.)

7. ” . . .no one is panicking over the west side housing market and he insists that it has simply ‘normalized’.” (Jerry Jackman, January 27th 1990 quoted in the Sun. link West-side prices fell by 40% in the next 2 years.)

8. “I can’t see prices reversing themselves there [in the west side] because it is still a very desirable place to live.” (Same as above.)

9. “The market is entering a more ‘normal’ phase.” (REBGV president Brian Calder, Feb 2, 1990 in the Sun. link If normal means that it takes 15 years to recover, then ‘normal’ it was.)

10. “A BC Central Credit Union newsletter released Tuesday said BC’s housing market is currently experiencing a contractionary phase but the worst of that phase should be over by late summer or early fall.” (BC Credit Union economist Richard Allen quoted in the Sun, July 5th 1995. link The decline in the late 90s was slow, but it took 28 quarters to bottom out and 33 quarters to recover to the previous peak. Some ‘phase’, eh?)

Tell Tibet It’s “Not Fair”

36898702.jpgAre you ever embarrassed by what comes out of peoples’ mouths? 

The other morning I woke up to the headlines “ Boycotting Olympics Would Be Unfair to Us, athletes say” 

Really.  

Protestors are being shot, people are being arrested, and current counts have almost 100 civilians being killed, but you might not be able to show off the hundreds of thousands of dollars your parents have sunk into you. I can see how the two even out.   

The article quotes Charmaine Crooks, a member of Vanoc’s board of Directors, who missed competing in the 1980 Moscow Olympics, because of the worldwide boycotts against Russia’s Afghanistan invasion.   

“I was a victim of boycotts in the past, and I know how it affected athletes and still does.”  

A victim?  I choked on my coffee. 

Being jailed and tortured for expressing your opinion makes you a victim.  Having your home and possessions stolen from you makes you a victim.  Losing the opportunity to travel to Moscow to live out a dream is certainly a bummer, but it does not make anyone a victim. 

The article goes on to pull out Snowboarder Alexa Loo, who after being raised in a safe, free society, doesn’t think a boycott is appropriate because Canada has its problems too. 

“It’s always troubling when people are treated badly and when there is bad things happening. But it’s just as troubling to know we have disenfranchised people in our Downtown Eastside that we’re not looking after.” 

Forgive me if I’m mistaken, but the last time I checked, the Canadian government hasn’t rolled the tanks in.  Comparing the Downtown Eastside (or anything in Canada for that matter) to what is happening in Tibet just shows how little appreciation these people have for the Tibetan situation, or their own. 

The Downtown Eastside is a disgrace by any social standards, but at least we’re allowed to write about the Downtown Eastside, we’re allowed to talk about it, and we’re allowed to protest anytime we want.   

U.S. Speaker of the House, Nancy Pelosi, said it eloquently when she said: 

“If freedom-loving people throughout the world do not speak out against China and the Chinese in Tibet, we have lost all moral authority to speak out on human rights.”   

This is why we must boycott the Beijing Olympics. If our Canadian athletes go marching on in, waving the Maple Leaf, we’re telling China that it’s o.k.  We’re telling them that they can do whatever they want, and we’ll all pretend it’s not happening, because we want a chance to win some shiny gold medals, and we want a chance to have a big pile of yen in our pockets.   

That’s not how I want Canada to be recognized.  

Support Tibetans, Support a Boycott 

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Daycare = Increased Productivity

j0422577.jpgIt’s 2008 and we are no longer just Canadians, we are part of the global economy.  Unfortunately, as part of this economy, Canada’s productivity has been lagging significantly behind our economic partners and peers.    Our average productivity growth ranked 20th in the OECD; and we’ve slipped from 5th to 10th place in GDP per capita over the last 15 years.  Not surprisingly, as we’ve been slipping, so has our commitment to our childcare programs. 

In 2007 alone, federal transfers to provinces and territories for child care services dropped $350 million dollars, going from $950 million in 2006, to just $600 million last year.   While the average OECD country spends  .7% of GDP on childcare, Canada spends only .2%.  While parents across Europe pay 25% of childcare costs, Canadians pay 50%. 

Even if daycare fees weren’t an issue, there aren’t enough spaces. Fewer than 20 per cent of all Canadian children attend licensed facilities, and right now, Ontario alone has 17,000 families on childcare waiting lists.   Without adequate childcare, families, and particularly women, are held back. 

When we support childcare initiatives, we are supporting wealth creation, not wealth distribution. By placing emphasis on safe, affordable daycare, we’re helping women today while preparing our children for tomorrow.  We have to allow every single citizen the opportunity to have a full time career.  Doing this will ensure that our GDP grows and our child poverty declines. 

This is a fact that has not been overlooked by other nations around the world.  By spending $18 million annually on childcare services, Switzerland receives $29 million back in additional tax revenues and reduced spending on social aid.  By providing easy access to affordable childcare, the rate of hours worked by mothers almost doubled with the most significant increases coming from single parent households.   

Today in Canada, 65% of all women with children under the age of three works, while 68% of single mothers work.  However, with women accounting for nearly 70% of all part-time employees, we can conclude that these women are not reaching their full earning potential. This recognition becomes even more pronounced when we accept that 43% of children living in poverty are living with a single female parent. How can they work more; how can they raise their families out of poverty, if they have no one to look after their children while they’re gone?   

How can we, as a country, compete globally if some of our greatest assets are unable to complete a full days work, because there’s no one to look after their greatest assets?  We need to allow Canadian women the opportunity to go to work everyday, without worrying about finding, and paying for, daycare.   

The CCAC (The Child Care Advocacy Association of Canada ) has laid forth 3 recommendations for the Harper government to include in their next budget.  The recommendations cover unity for childcare standards across all provinces and territories, $1.5 billion in annual funding and an overall plan for family life balance.

What we need to do as women is to urge our government to follow these actions.  We need to convince our Prime Minister that spending money to ensure easy access to quality childcare will allow Canada to compete with the rest of the world.  We have to make this government understand that by guaranteeing excellent care for our children, we’re guaranteeing Canada’s future.  With our present day workforce fully utilized, and our next generation workforce fully equipped, Canada could become the economic superpower of the 21st century.          

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Women In Business – Losing The Fight In Canada?

Post and Run:

Being reported in the Globe and Mail Today – the number of women, in top executive positions, has fallen in Canada over the past year.

“Just 31 women hold the highest-paid executive jobs in the 100 largest publicly traded companies. That’s down from 37 last year, according to the study by executive search firm Rosenzweig & Co.”

From The Article :

“Of the six positions that declined, two were eliminated because of corporate restructuring after mergers, two of the companies that were included last year are no longer in the top 100 and the other two were retirements of women who were replaced by men. ”

so that tells us, that not one of the top 100 companies in Canada promoted a woman in 2007

……………..

What is going on?

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