Property tax rates in the era of COVID-19

Torontonians continue to pay some of the lowest proportional property tax rates in Ontario, despite an above inflation increase that was passed by City Council earlier this year. Today Torontonians pay 0.6% of their home values in property taxes compared to 1.77% in Windsor, the highest in the province, and 1.5% in Thunder Bay. The average property tax bill in Toronto ranges from $3,000 – $5,000 a year, depending on home values. $740 of that bill goes to fund Toronto’s $1.1B a year police force, $540 goes to fund the TTC, and $400 goes to pay for long term capital projects. The GTA generally has much lower property taxes than rural and outlying regions of the province. 

We will see how COVID will affect these rates, given that Toronto is now looking at at least a $1.5B financial shortfall from the impact of the pandemic. The worst case financial hit to Toronto could be nearly $3B. The City has a GDP, or economic output of $250B, so it has the economic base to support going into debt to manage the difficulties of COVID. However, due to provincial rules and laws, the city has considerable limits on how much it can borrow. Those rules could be changed or loosened up for the city in lieu of a provincial bailout – which not only would be extremely expensive but would be looked upon with anger by other cities who are also facing serious financial and economic problems. One bailout to one city will lead to other cities asking for the same. Toronto has been leaning on debt and green bonds to patch up the city’s huge infrastructure, transit, and capital repairs backlogs that total many billions of dollars. This dependence on debt and debt servicing will only grow. 

Toronto’s growing tech. and financial sectors have helped the city enjoy significant prosperity (and high housing costs) prior to COVID, and will be counted on to support recovery from the pandemic. The city’s politicians have pointed to the strength of these sectors are reasons to bailout the city – claiming that its economy is interconnected to the rest of the country and a key driver of revenue for provincial and federal governments. Mayor Tory has repeatedly spelled out that deep cuts to services will have to go ahead if the City does not receive a bailout (firing police officers, gutting bus routes, and cutting down road funding – but not lowering the high salaries of senior bureaucrats or reducing the city’s 55,000 bureaucrat payroll through attrition). 

On solving Toronto’s housing shortage

The Federation of Rental Housing Providers of Ontario (FRPO) recently released a report discussing the shortage of affordable housing in Toronto and presenting a solution. The magic ingredient to solving the housing crunch can be found in ‘infill’ land, low density or undeveloped space in and around public transit and transportation nodes across the city. The ‘infill’ land is near subway stations, GO stops, and major highway interchanges. Outside of the downtown core, infill land is generally low rise, although there is some mid rise construction at these sites also. 

The FRPO estimates that 176,000 new units of housing could be added to Toronto’s rental market at over 950 sites across the city. Many of those units would be within walking distance of subway and transit sites. The key to these infill locations is that they are already zoned, purchased, and ready to be developed – the question is can the density be built up at enough of them? One of the major policy solutions the Ford Government has committed to in addressing housing concerns has been to increase density at GO station and public transit locations. This mirrors the proposal of the FRPO. The province sees this as a win win for developers, prospective home-owners, and governments. Developers make a profit, home owners get more housing buy opportunities, and governments get higher tax revenues. 

Embarking on an aggressive development campaign on infill land would be one way to alleviate the historically low levels of development we’re seeing in Ontario lately. If one were to measure the number of housing completions per 1,000 people, today output is at 4. This matches historic low points in the early 1990s in the aftermath of the 80s real estate bubble popping, the late 70s recession, and the 1953 recession. Throughout the economic boom of the late 50s and 60s, housing completions rose from 6 to 11 homes built per 1,000 people. Our low rate of housing construction has been in place for the last 12 years. We need to build more housing, period.

COVID-19 supports for individuals

In this blog, Tembo will outline some of the programs and measures in place to support individuals for those in need. We recognize that many of our readers, clients, and stakeholders are people who have been directly impacted by COVID-19 or have had family or friends who have. Governments have implemented many policies to help people manage the difficulties of the pandemic.

  • Through Ontario low-income tax credit, benefiting 1.1 million Ontarians by providing relief of up to $850 a year.
  • Through Ontario child care tax credit, that provides 300,000 Ontario families an average of $1,250 per year in tax relief, letting parents choose the best child care of $1,250 per year options for their family.
  • A $1 billion commitment to create 30,000 new child care spaces.
  • $275 a year for a family for items like fuel and other basic necessities by cancelling the cap-and-trade carbon tax.
  • For Northerners, the aviation fuel tax was lowered, saving money for individuals and families on groceries and travel costs.
  • Aviation fuel tax rate in the North was lowered to 2.7 cents per litre from 6.7 cents per litre.
    • This returns the aviation fuel tax rate in the North to the level that was in effect in 2014.
  • Kids can now ride free on GO trains and buses.
  • 100,000 low-income seniors will have access to publicly funded dental care.
  • Tuition fees were cut by 10 per cent last year and froze tuition next year to help keep more money in the pockets of Ontario students.

BACKGROUND

  • LIFT – Minimum wage earners pay no Ontario personal income tax and provide relief to over 1.1 million low-income Ontarians.
  • Child Care Tax Credit – Provide relief for 300,000 families with a tax break of $1,250 on their child care expenses per year, on average.
  • Free GO rides for kids under 12.
  • Reducing tuition fees by 10% for students.
  • Free dental care for 100,000 low-income seniors.
  • Supporting seniors and their families with the Estate Administration Tax cut for all taxable estates.
  • Scrapping the cap-and-trade carbon tax.
  • Lowering electricity rates by cancelling over 750 renewable energy contracts, saving ratepayers $790 million.
  • Freezing driver and vehicle fees.
  • Scrapping Drive Clean.
  • Free fishing on long weekends. Free fishing for veterans and active service members.
  • Improve housing affordability by making it easier to build more homes faster, protect renters, and increase the mix of housing to make more options available. 

COVID-19 supports for small businesses

In this blog, Tembo will outline some of the programs and measures in place to support small businesses for those in need. We recognize that many of our readers, clients, and stakeholders are small business owners, have entrepreneurial family or friends, or are just interested in what governments have done to support our businesses get through the pandemic.

Supports

  • Up to $196.10 in EI premium reduction for short-term disability benefits per employee per year through the EI Premium Reduction Program.
  • Up to 65% of eligible expenses through the CERS (Canada Emergency Rent Subsidy), open until December 19, 2020.
  • Cost-recovery basis PPE for sale through the national Essential Services Contingency Reserve if you can’t acquire PPE through other means.
  • Contact your Regional Development Agency for a review of your situation and potential supports.
  • Waiving of tariffs on any imported PPE or medical items a business procured after May 5th.

Loans

  • Up to $100,000 in business loans through the BDC Small Business Loan with 5 day approval, apply online with the BDC.
  • Up to $40,000 in interest free loans through the Canada Emergency Business Account (CEBA), applications close on Dec. 31, 2020. 
  • Up to $6.25 million in cash flow term loans through the EDC Loan Guarantee program (BCAP), applications close on Jun. 1, 2021, apply through your bank.
  • From $1-$12.5 million in cash flow term loans through the BDC, apply through your bank.

Grants

  • Up to $5,000 through the Canada United Small Business Relief Fund to buy PPE, renovate your business space, or boost e-commerce capabilities.
  • $1,000 Main Street grant to buy PPE
  • $2,500 Digital Main Street Grant to help build a website and enhance e-commerce activities for businesses without one

Tax Credits & Levies

  • Through the Small Business Tax Credit, tax rates for companies with revenues less than $500,000 are reduced
  • Up to $9,945 through higher Employer Health Tax exemptions when you file your taxes if you qualify.
  • Up to $3,000 or a refundable tax credit of 30% through the Co-Operative Education Tax Credit if a co-op student is hired.
  • Up to $2,000 per year for each apprentice hired through the Apprenticeship Job Creation Tax Credit.

Contact your local MP or MPP for more details on help in applying and accessing these supports. Keep in mind that most of the loans outlined in this blog post are in the hands of the BDC and EDC (Business Development Canada and Export Development Canada banks). 

The Bank of Canada guarantees low rates until 2023

The message now set in stone was reiterated recently, loud and clear: cheap money is here to stay. For at least the next 2 years, the Bank of Canada will keep its record low interest rates steady at 0.25% or until we hit 2% inflation. Bank of Canada Governor Tiff Macklem was unambiguous: “Our main message today is that it will take quite some time for the economy to fully recover from the Covid-19 pandemic, the Bank of Canada will keep providing monetary stimulus to support the economy through the recovery.” The Bank also made the bold but widely held statement that economic growth will hit 4% on average in 2021 and 2022. As inflation continues to fall below the Bank’s 2% target, it sees no issue from an inflationary perspective in keeping rates this low, and it sees the low rates as being crucial to supporting long term economic recovery, loose fiscal policy, and a stable housing market in the months and years to come. 

The big winner from the clear and definitive announcement will be fixed 5 year mortgages, whose rates will now fall because of the long term certainty the Bank’s announcement provides. Homeowners with floating rate mortgages won’t see much benefit from the reduction as rates are already effectively as low as they can possibly go. The only alternative is for the Central Bank to pursue negative rates (where it would pay you to borrow from it). Surveys show that most new prospective homebuyers say they will opt for 5 year fixed rate mortgages given their growing attraction and certainty. According to ratehub.ca, Meridian Credit Union is offering a fixed rate 5 year mortgage at 1.60%. TD Bank is offering 1.94%, the lowest of the big five banks. RBC’s 2.22% fixed rate five year mortgage is the highest. 

To put those figures in perspective, a $550,000 home mortgage with a 20% down payment would cost the average home buyer $1,800 a month to service. This is considerably less than the average base rent costs in Toronto. (We’re not including property taxes, utilities, insurance, etc.), but the low nature of these rates is incredible. If housing cost what averages were in1990s ($300K), a monthly mortgage would cost $1,000 to service with a 20% down payment. The BOC’s announcement will provide clear psychological and fiscal stimulus for the Canadian housing market for years to come. 

A surging September

They called it “the best September on record for Toronto home sales.” 42.3% more homes closed last month than was the case in September of 2019. Over 11,000 homes were sold, and the average sale price approached just under $1 million at $960K. Prices jumped 14% from September 2019 levels, and it’s safe to say that Toronto real estate has now comfortably exceeded any price and demand levels seen in the last craze several summers ago. Realtors exclaimed the blockbuster numbers on the ever lower mortgage rates, courtesy of a Bank of Canada that has signalled that rates will be this low for ‘years to come.’ Prime mortgages at TD are now trailing in the low 2% range, down from the already low 3.3% range seen pre-COVID.

Realtors also pointed to the fact that uncertainty and difficulties created by COVID-19 formed pent up demand. The weakness in the condo market was offset by the gold plated low rise and detached market. All of this occurred as polling in late September showing confidence among Canadians as being sky-high in the long term fundamentals of the market. Over 44% of Canadians polled expect real estate prices to rise over the next 6 months, COVID-19 complications notwithstanding. Those polled who expressed the opposite view fell to 27%, the lowest in many months. The pessimism of the impacts of COVID-19 on the real estate market is dead and buried – the exact opposite sentiment has been generated by the pandemic.

All of this largely fits into the longer term predictions by the commercial banks and the Bank of Canada. Predictions show that while prices and demand may rise in the final quarter of 2020, the big institutions expect next year to be a rough one – all largely because of uncertainty and the potential for crises arising. We’ll have to wait and see what 2021 holds. Mirroring what happened in Toronto, real estate dynamism was marked in Vancouver, where sales rose 56.2% in September. The numbers in BC’s Fraser Valley were even higher, at an astronomical 66.1% higher in September compared to a year earlier. The picture in Ottawa and Montreal was also very promising. The next few months should be good for southern Ontario real estate.

How Ontario will manage the ‘Second Wave’

With case numbers slowly increasing, the provincial government has long been planning for this second wave outbreak. Tembo wants to provide readers with confidence and details of how public authorities are responding to the second wave. The plan to manage the second wave represents almost $3 billion in spending. Here are its key pillars:

  • To boost testing, $1.376 billion will be spent to enhance and expand efforts to test, trace and isolate new cases of COVID-19. As part of this funding, $1.07 billion will expand laboratory capacity, reduce testing backlogs, support existing assessment centres, and add more testing locations and capacity.
  • To prepare for flu season and protect at risk seniors especially, $70 million will be spent to purchase and distribute flu vaccines to deliver a robust and expanded campaign this year. In addition, Ontario is investing $26.5 million to purchase and administer additional flu vaccine doses if required and $2 million to purchase additional antiviral medication to support outbreak management of influenza in institutions.
  • To quickly identify and contain major case outbreaks, $30 million will be spent to prevent, minimize and manage outbreaks in a number of sectors, including education, child care, agriculture and health care. Ontario has also developed a COVID-19 surveillance strategy to monitor the virus and detect cases and outbreaks quickly.
  • To further boost the health system, $283.7 million will be spent to assist the health system’s ongoing efforts to reduce surgery backlogs by supporting extend hours for additional priority surgeries and diagnostic imaging. The government is also adding 139 critical care beds and 1,349 hospital beds in hospitals and alternate health facilities across the province to support more surgical procedures.
  • Another $457.49 million will go to ensure that the health system is prepared to respond to any waves or surges of COVID-19 without interrupting routine health services. This includes helping up to 850 alternate levels of care patients access the proper care in a home or community setting to help add more capacity in hospitals; expanding digital health and virtual services; improving access to mental health and addictions services and supports with a $26.75 million investment; and increasing home and community care service by adding 484,000 nursing and therapy visits and 1.4 million personal support worker hours.
  • And hundreds of millions more will be spend to hire new frontline workers, boost the long term care system, and support school reopening and child care centres.

An overview of the the Province’s school re-opening plan one month into the school year

School re-opening remains a contentious issue in the province. In this blog post, Tembo will outline where resources are going to manage school re-opening in Ontario. While some schools have closed and case numbers in the system are slowly increasing, the province believes that it is essential for kids to be back in school getting the direct support they need. The province has also repeatedly emphasized that the re-opening plan is a ‘living document’, that can be changed if conditions worsen or change. In total, the province is spending $1.3 billion on the re-opening plan:

  • $100 million to hire more teachers to keep class sizes small;
  •   $90 million for personal protective equipment for staff and students;
  •   $62.5 million to hire 625 public health nurses to monitor for COVID-19 in schools;
  •   $23.6 million for testing;
  •   $79 million to hire up to 1,300 additional dedicated custodians and purchase cleaning supplies;
  •   $65.5 million for enhanced cleaning and safety measures for student transportation;
  •   $10 million for health and safety training of occasional teachers and education workers;
  •   $42.5 million to support students with special needs and provide student mental health supports;
  •   $50 million in one-time funding to support improved ventilation, air quality and HVAC system effectiveness in schools;
  •   $54 million to hire additional principals, vice-principals and administrative staffing supports to better deliver and oversee remote learning;
  •   $100 million to be responsive to local school board reopening plan priorities supporting a broad range of activities such as increasing the number of educators, custodians, additional bussing supports, and keeping class sizes small;
  •   $15 million to purchase approximately 30,000 technological devices for students;
  •   $44.5 million towards the school bus driver retention strategy;
  •   Up to an additional $11 million in funding to support school boards that do not have sufficient reserves to promote equitable school re-opening plans province wide; and
  •   Up to $496 million by allowing boards to unlock reserves and access up to two per cent of their operating budget from their reserve funds. This funding can be applied to local priorities of each board, based on the immediate needs on the ground to prepare for the start of school.

Second Mortgages 

Second Mortgages can be taken against your property in Ontario by using Tembo Financial. 

We work with our clients to get the best mortgage rates in Ontario that are tailored to fit your financial needs. 

Second mortgages are registered against the property, just as a first mortgage would be. 

Tembo Financial is able to give second mortgages to clients for a variety of different reasons.

Second mortgages can be used for a deposit for a new purchase, renovations and repairs to your home, stopping power of sale, and equity advances. 

For any information regarding how you can get a second mortgage anywhere in Ontario, including: North York, Ottawa, Brampton, London, Waterloo, Pickering, Barrie or more, contact Tembo Financial. 

Third mortgages in Ontario

Third mortgages in Ontario are easier to get than before with a loan from Tembo Financial. 

If you are anywhere in Ontario, such as Cambridge, Waterloo, Ottawa, Pickering, Scarborough, Brampton, Mississauga and more, Tembo Financial can help. 

Third mortgages, much like any other mortgages, register against your current property to help you get money into your pocket. 

The money can be used for anything you need, including: home renovation and repairs, bridge financing for a new property, or anything else that you may need. 

The reason that third mortgages may be hard to obtain is based off of insurance on the property. Tembo financial is happy to assist you through this process to help you get the best solutions to your financial needs.

Contact us today if you are looking for a Third mortgages in Ontario.