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CMHC officials lied about possible home equity tax

Homeowners currently do not pay tax on the sale of a primary residence.

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Officials with the Canada Mortgage and Housing Corporation lied in a social media campaign to conceal their research on a home equity tax, says Blacklock’s Reporter.

Access To Information records this week disclosed by the Canadian Taxpayers Federation show the agency, and its CEO Evan Siddall, withheld details of research into Canadians who “get rich” on home ownership, and sought to discredit Blacklock’s reporting on the tax study.

Records show Siddall specifically contacted researchers to produce a study on home equity taxation.

“I like the idea,” Siddall wrote in a May 22, 2019 email.

“Very worthwhile.”

Homeowners currently do not pay tax on the sale of a primary residence. The Canada Revenue Agency since 2016 has required tax filers to report the sale of a primary residence under threat of an $8,000 fine even though sales are not taxable.

Blacklock’s last July 17 revealed CMHC awarded $250,000 to researchers at the University of British Columbia to study taxation of home equity.

Then Siddall and his staff at the time told the Wall Street Journal the story was “misleading,” and assured a Yahoo Finance reporter the article was “not accurate.”

Siddall went even further in posts on his Twitter account, calling the story “untrue and poor reporting,” “not true,” “horrible reporting” and “untruths by substandard news outfits without checking the facts,” “inaccurate, “a non-story” and “insistent, argumentative reporting that ignores the facts.”

“CMHC is NOT spending $250,000 to consider any tax on housing,” Siddall tweeted last July 20.

“I know you got this info from media sources. You’ve been a victim of irresponsible reporting.”

But despite the denials, CTF records confirmed a home equity tax was the primary focus of the research despite CMHC denials.

CMHC in one briefing note wrote: “Why deliver? Remember purpose. Before COVID-19 housing costs had shot higher than many could afford. Why? In part because we allowed them to, knowing many Canadians bank on profits from home ownership to secure their financial future and gain wealth.”

“We must unravel this pre-existing catch-22,” wrote staff.

“We need to rethink the policies that, by encouraging the financialization of housing, push the cost to buy or rent a home even further out of reach.”

Professor Paul Kershaw of UBC, the lead researcher, in a memo to CMHC spelled out the equity tax plan.

“Currently there is an inequitable and uneven playing field,” wrote Kershaw.

“One key source of this intergenerational inequality is tax policy that privileges home ownership and shelters housing wealth, especially in principal residences, from taxation

The research “will examine tax and other public finance policy opportunities to level the intergenerational playing field.”

Kershaw in a June 19, 2019 email to CMHC complained homeowners were trying to “get rich,” and Parliament was “sheltering much housing wealth from taxation.”

Kershaw added: “There is a potential for a tax shift.”

The taxpayer-funded research has not been released.

Kershaw in a 2019 podcast with CMHC’s Siddall complained that “some people won the lottery” on home ownership.

“People who bought homes decades ago now, especially in our big cities, can be living in multi-million dollar properties,” said Kershaw.

“Amazing, eh?” replied Siddall. “Amazing.”

“Home ownership has become a driving source of inequality in Canada,” said Kershaw.

“For sure it has,” replied Siddall.

Kershaw nor Siddall did not comment.

Dave Naylor is the News Editor of the Western Standard
dnaylor@westernstandardonline.com
Twitter.com/nobby7694

Dave Naylor is the News Editor of the Western Standard and the Vice-President: News Division of Western Standard New Media Corp. He has served as the City Editor of the Calgary Sun and has covered Alberta news for nearly 40 years. dnaylor@westernstandardonline.com

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UCP MLA calls AHS ‘bloated’ and ‘underperforming’

“Even at a 90% inoculation rate in those 12 and older, we struggle with capacity,” said Guthrie criticizing AHS for the lack of available hospital beds throughout the pandemic and the many cancelled surgeries as a result.

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Alberta Health Services is “failing” and needs “transformation,” says UCP MLA for Airdrie-Cochrane Peter Guthrie in a Facebook post.

Guthrie posted the video on Tuesday and said after speaking with many of his constituents, he had been “wrestling” with his thoughts on the state of Alberta’s healthcare system.

Guthrie highlighted the two-year period of the pandemic going from “zero data and no vaccine” to having data from around the world and a vaccine, “yet we seem to be in a circular loop.”

“Even at a 90% inoculation rate in those 12 and older, we struggle with capacity,” said Guthrie, criticizing AHS for the lack of available hospital beds throughout the pandemic and the many cancelled surgeries as a result.

“And AHS seems to recite the same recycled ideas including masking, passports and other various restrictions.”

In September, Guthrie said he and other MLAs questioned AHS and the Alberta government on the use of vaccine passports saying they were “divisive and possibly ineffective in stopping transmission,” and were showing waning efficacy.

“I don’t feel our health leaders adjusted to this evidence,” said Guthrie.

Guthrie also criticized AHS for not investing in researching treatments for COVID-19 symptoms and for working to “deter” the use of early treatments.

“AHS and the College of Physicians (and Surgeons of Alberta – CPSA) have penalized, suspended and even revoked licenses’ of those Alberta doctors trying to find a treatment, including anti-viral medications, that may help a patient avoid symptoms.”

Guthrie took aim at the “billions of added dollars” the government has put into healthcare for AHS to hire more doctors yet said wait times have not improved across the province. He also referenced a report by the Fraser Institute that pegged Canada as second behind Switzerland for the most expensive universal healthcare system in the world, but added Canada also sits among the bottom on performance.

“This reinforces the need for reform,” said Guthrie, adding he doesn’t blame frontline workers and suggests we should be looking to those healthcare workers for suggestions on how to improve what he calls a “failing” healthcare system.

Guthrie said pre-COVID19 — and immediately after he was elected — he and other MLAs felt upper management changes in AHS were necessary.

“We felt that AHS was a bloated, underperforming entity that requires transformation,” said Guthrie.

“With the uninspiring performance of AHS over the last two years, right or wrong, that sentiment still holds with me.”

Guthrie said he believes “high-calibre candidates” should be sought outside of AHS and said the healthcare system in Alberta should not be left to continue struggling and suggested other strategies should be explored by professional consultants from outside AHS.

“We must endeavour to generate confidence, not fear,” said Guthrie encouraging people to share their ideas and thoughts on how to improve Alberta’s healthcare system.

Melanie Risdon is a reporter with the Western Standard
mrisdon@westernstandardonline.com

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Omicron grounds every 1 in 5 WestJet flights in February

Customers affected by the new cutbacks will hear from WestJet within the next few days.

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A total of 20% of WestJet flights will be cancelled in February — Omicron and past layoffs are to blame.

“As we continue to navigate the unpredictability of the Omicron variant on our staffing levels, along with the ongoing barriers to international travel, we are making every effort to proactively manage our schedule in order to minimize disruption to our guests’ travel plans,” said President & CEO Harry Taylor in a press release. 

“To our guests impacted by these additional consolidations, we sincerely apologize for the disruption and appreciate your continued understanding and patience.”

Customers affected by the new cutbacks will hear from WestJet within the next few days.

The aviation industry is the only transportation sector in Canada requiring full vaccination status to use and is the highest COVID-19 tested consumer activity in the country.

“Canada remains one of the only countries in the world requiring multiple molecular tests for fully-vaccinated travellers — these testing resources should be redeployed to our communities,” said Taylor, commenting on the demand to stop arrival testing.

The measures are in addition to the 15% reduction in flights implemented in January because of staff shortages.

These events follow the December deadline for WestJet employees to be vaccinated, where hundreds of employees were fired because of their vaccination status.

Ewa Sudyk is a reporter for the Western Standard
esudyk@westernstandardonline.com

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Misery index places Canada in bottom ranks

“Canadians are rightly concerned about the country’s high inflation and unemployment rates, and when compared to other developed countries, Canada is not doing well.”

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Canada’s combination of high rates of inflation and unemployment have secured it the sixth most “miserable” advanced economy in the world.

Tuesday morning, the Fraser Institute released a study that ranked the International Monetary Fund’s top 35 economic countries.

With an inflation rate of 3.15% and unemployment rate of 7.72%, Canada’s 2021 Misery Index score is 10.88.

“Canadians are rightly concerned about the country’s high inflation and unemployment rates, and when compared to other developed countries, Canada is not doing well,” said Jason Clements, executive vice president of the Fraser Institute.

Fraser Institute

American economist Arthur Okun created the Misery Index to understand the level of economic strain felt on an everyday basis for regular citizens of a country.

Inflation and unemployment act as measures that drastically affect the costs of living that impacts economic well-being on an individual level.

Only five countries received worse scores than Canada, Spain in the last spot with a score of 17.61, followed by Greece (15.73), Italy (11.96) and Iceland (11.26)

Countries above Canada’s score include France (10.10), the United States (9.72), Australia (7.33), and the United Kingdom (7.17).

Japan (2.61) and Switzerland (3.57) received the top scores being the least miserable.

The Misery Index was prominent in policy discussions during the 1970s and 1980s, but fell out of the spotlight during the 1990s while inflation and unemployment was low.

“The fact we are again discussing the Misery Index and Canada’s high ranking on it is bad news for all Canadians, who will suffer as a result,” Clemens said.

“Governments across Canada, particularly the federal government, should prioritize those policies that will make Canadians less miserable by lowering inflation and unemployment.”

Ewa Sudyk is a reporter with the Western Standard
esudyk@westernstandardonline.com

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