Today, during Premier Doug Ford's announcement, he mentioned that the Ministry of Labour and the Chief Prevention Officer would be releasing new health and safety measures soon.
DRHBA will forward that information to members as soon as it becomes available. In the meantime, please review the industry statement released on March 20, that outlines some best practices for construction sites.
View/download the document
Pickering, ON, March 24, 2020 – In support of the Province of Ontario’s and Region of Durham’s efforts to mitigate the spread of COVID-19, Deputy Mayor, Kevin Ashe has declared a state of emergency in the City of Pickering to ensure that the municipal government continues to be agile and responsive in managing this rapidly evolving crisis.
Over the past 10 days, the City has closed all of its facilities to the public; suspended all City-run programs, events, and meetings; activated its Emergency Operations Centre; waived property tax penalties and interest charges for 60 days; and closed all municipal playgrounds and play structures. While not open to the public, Pickering City Hall and the Operations Centre remain minimally staffed to ensure the continued delivery of essential and critical services. The Customer Care Centre is still operating Monday to Friday between 8:30 am to 4:30 pm, and can be reached at 905.683.7575, firstname.lastname@example.org, or through live chat at pickering.ca/livechat.
For the most up-to date COVID-19 information including news releases, property taxes, service level delivery, and safety tips, visit pickering.ca/covid19 or follow the City’s corporate social media accounts on Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram.
“We have declared a state of emergency to send the strongest message possible to residents and businesses that everyone must align their attitudes and actions if we are to be successful in flattening the curve and protecting our healthcare system. Members of Council and staff have been working around the clock to manage this emergency, and we need everyone to do their part by staying at home.”
- Deputy Mayor, Kevin Ashe
On March 24, the Region of Durham declared a state of emergency to help deal with the COVID-19 pandemic.
Regional Chair John Henry released the following statement:
“Today, based on information collected over the last few days and in consultation with the Chief Administrative Officer, Regional Emergency Control Group, Regional Medical Officer of Health and Durham Emergency Management, I am declaring a State of Emergency in the Region of Durham.
This is a critical time in our efforts to slow the spread of COVID-19. Cases are climbing across Durham Region. We must all do everything we can to keep our community safe and flatten the curve.
In making today’s declaration, this is a message to our entire community: stay home, stay safe and follow the advice of our public health professionals.
I am also ensuring that we, as your Regional Government, can continue to act and respond quickly to the situation we face today, and to any other events that arise in the weeks ahead.
This is not a step we took lightly. It reflects the seriousness of our response to COVID-19 and the tremendous co-ordination and communication that is required from all levels of government.
While I thank our many residents and businesses who are taking every precaution to protect themselves and others, there is still some complacency in our community. I am urging you to do your part: to self-isolate, practise social distancing, and only go outside for essentials. If you are returning from travel, self-isolate in your home for 14 days and ask family, friends or neighbours to drop off supplies for you.
We are all in this together. The Region of Durham is here for you. The health and well-being of our residents is our top priority. We are and will continue to work out of the Emergency Operations Centre to maintain the essential social services, public works and health-care services you rely on.
This is an incredibly tough time in our history, and there will be more difficult days ahead. But we must not lose sight of why we are doing this and why such extreme measures are needed. Only by working together over the coming days and weeks can we change the course of this virus and protect the health and safety of everyone in Durham. I know we can do this. Please help us by doing your part.”
Toronto - The Ontario Construction Consortium (OCC) is calling on the provincial government to suspend work on construction sites across Ontario for 14 days to protect the safety of workers and employers amid the COVID-19 crisis.
OCC executive director Phil Gillies reacted to Premier Doug Ford's directive yesterday calling for non-essential business and services to shut down, saying the message to the construction industry was confusing and contradictory.
"It makes no sense that you can't have your neighbour over for a cup of coffee yet construction sites are expected to continue operations and they can have hundreds of employees working in close proximity to each other," said Gillies. "This is contrary to the best advice of public health officials to maintain social distancing."
The provincial government yesterday ordered all non-essential businesses to close but published a list of 74 businesses deemed essential, including several construction related business activities including:
26. Construction projects and services associated with the healthcare sector, including new facilities, expansions, renovations and conversion of spaces that could be repurposed for health care space;
27. Construction projects and services required to ensure safe and reliable operations of critical provincial infrastructure, including transit, transportation, energy and justice sectors beyond the day-to-day maintenance;
28. Construction and work services, including demolition services, in the industrial, commercial, institutional and residential sectors;
29. Construction work and services that supports health and safety environmental rehabilitation projects.
Gilles said the OCC supports positions taken by both the Carpenters' and Painters' unions in calling on the government to shut down construction temporarily.
"As Premier Ford announced [Monday], the construction workers on this Province should not be expected to work on jobsites where the basic safety requirements for COVID-19 are not being met," said Tony Iannuzzi, executive secretary treasurer of the Carpenters' Union. "Those minimum standards simply do not exist on most of our jobsite."
Bruno Mandic, business manager and secretary treasurer of the Painters and Allied Trades District Council 46, echoed those sentiments, saying "it's impossible to do our jobs [and maintain social distancing]. If you're on the 20th or 50th floor of a building working, the only way to get there is by elevator and there's no social distancing.
He also cited unsanitary conditions on construction job sites including a lack of running water.
Enbridge has released documents outlining their service updates during COVID-19.
View or download new build update
View or download Q & A for Builders
View or download Enbridge Team Contact Info
The Ontario Home Builders' Association has created a letter template that serves as a guide which outlines high-level principles and recommendations. Members are encouraged to personalize with local context and share with both OHBA and the Ministry (email@example.com) outlining potential financial impacts of the proposed CBC model in jurisdictions right across Ontario.
Download the form letter
OHBA has put together a template that members can use to input information regarding their projects. You can use the template to see the effect that the Community Benefit Charge will have your business. If you do complete the template and are willing to share, please email the completed form to firstname.lastname@example.org. To submit, the following information needs to be filled out:
View or download a sample completed form
View or download the template
View or download Development Charges in Durham Region
OHBA is co-hosting a series of regional conference calls on Monday, March 23 to review the proposed regulatory framework, discuss concerns and potential advocacy positions, and to have focused regionally-specific discussions.
Durham Region will be participating in the Central-North discussion hosted by Simcoe County HBA on Monday, March 23 at 2:30 p.m.
View or download the slide deck
We are now finishing our third week of renovations at the new office. We can officially say that the demo is done, the electrical is complete and the drywall has been finished. Taping is up next for the office! A big thank you to everyone who has helped us thus far, FarSight Homes (demo/framing and project management), Langmaid Electric (electrical), MV Drywall (drywall), and Accubuilt Construction (project management). We would also like to thank Cambria for donating countertops for both the kitchen and bathroom and Rocpal Custom Cabinets for donating cabinets for the kitchen. If you are interested in donating to the new office please contact Stacey Hawkins - email@example.com 905-579-8080 ext. 2.
With the minor tweak to the Mortgage Stress Test (B-20) last month, and the Bank of Canada rate cut by 50 basis points last week, many potential homebuyers may see it as the signal to finally take the leap into homeownership.
Although, on the surface, this should be welcomed news for the residential homebuilding industry, there are many economists and financial experts whom are worried that the end result may be an overheating of an already expensive housing market, and further overextension of consumer debt levels and the risk they pose on the financial system.
But, in an article I read in the Financial Post, by Steve Ambler and Jeremy Kronick, both authors suggest that perhaps traditional barometers for determining Canadians’ financial fragility may be out of touch. Furthermore, Ambler and Kronick suggest that regulators and policymakers should focus less on traditional credit measures and more on debt-service ratios.
Over the past 25 years, Canadians’ household debt has increased steadily as a share of their disposable income. During this time, and especially since the financial crisis, they have often been told their debt levels were unsustainable and that a day of reckoning was fast approaching. And yet that day has not come. According to Ambler and Kronick, “one reason why seems clear: for the most part over the last 25 years, the amount Canadians spend servicing their debt has not changed as a percentage of their disposable income.”
In a recent C.D. Howe Commentary, both authors argue that it is primarily this “debt service ratio” (interest payments plus reimbursement of principal divided by disposable income) that determines households’ ability to make their payments at the end of the month. “If this ratio spikes, that should be a red flag regarding financial instability. But for most of the past 25 years, other than the lead-up to the 2008 financial crisis and a smaller uptick now, it hasn’t, unlike more traditional and – we argue – less important credit measures,” state Ambler and Kroncik.
For instance, one of the most widely reported debt figures is the ratio of total household debt (mainly mortgages, car loans, and student and credit card debt) to disposable income. It sat at a whopping 176 per cent at the end of the third quarter of last year, compared to a little over 85 per cent at the beginning of the 1990s.
“But what people owe is only one side of the coin. The other side is what they own and Canadians’ net worth has never been higher. Heading into the final quarter of last year it was equivalent to 870 per cent of disposable income, almost five times their debt ratio,” point out Steve Ambler and Jeremy Kronick.
Neither of these two results is all that surprising. You would expect to see a higher debt ratio in an environment where interest rates have declined. “The 10-year Canadian government bond yield was 9.75 per cent in January 1990, 6.49 per cent in January 2000, 3.48 per cent in January 2010, and just 1.60 per cent in December 2019,” states Steve Ambler. “Declining interest rates have been a worldwide phenomenon, explained by falling birthrates, aging populations and a slowdown in real growth,” argues Jeremy Kronick.
As interest rates have fallen, cheaper borrowing has led to higher asset prices, most notably for houses. Higher house prices have in turn led to people taking on bigger mortgages. But the interest they pay on their mortgage has fallen as interest rates have fallen. As a result, and not surprisingly, the debt service ratio has remained mostly flat in Canada over the past quarter century, even as the debt ratio has risen. Households typically borrow when they are young and pay back their debt over time. Lower interest rates will – perfectly rationally – lead them to spend more on housing and also to substitute present consumption for future consumption, which means borrowing more. “The optimal debt ratio will rise as interest rates fall and fall as interest rates rise (if interest rates ever do rise again),” argue Ambler and Kronick.
That the debt service ratio has been so flat for so long suggests Canadian households have been carrying as much debt as they think they can handle, given both their incomes and the low interest rates we have had since 2008.
Both Ambler and Kronick suggest, “regulators and policy-makers should put less weight on traditional credit measures when determining whether policy measures to slow the housing market are necessary. They should instead focus more on debt-service ratios and other indicators related to debt servicing.” Both authors state, “central banks need to realize that if they cut their policy rate to stimulate the economy, the short-run positive effects of increased borrowing on both output and inflation have a downside in the long run as more borrowing eventually leads to higher debt servicing. In suggesting less emphasis on debt ratios and more on debt servicing ratios, we by no means want to imply all is well.” The debt service ratio is on the rise today. The only other time it rose in any sustained way over the past 25 years was just before the crash of 2008. Combined with increases in consumer insolvencies, which were up 9.5 per cent over the 12 months ending in December, the uptick in debt service ratio should focus on the minds of policy-makers. “But, at some point there has to be an explanation for why we haven’t yet seen a U.S.-style housing market correction. The debt service ratio provides one important clue,” suggest both Ambler and Kronick.
Steve Ambler is David Dodge Chair in Monetary Policy, C.D. Howe Institute, and Professor of Economics at the University of Quebec in Montreal. Jeremy Kronick is Associate Director, Research, C.D. Howe Institute.
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Durham Region Home Builders' Association is a 501(c)6 non-profit organization. 1-1255 Terwillegar Avenue Oshawa, Ontario L1J 7A4