Gray Matters: We must do better

June is Elder Abuse Prevention Month and an opportunity to think about elder abuse as a social justice issue.

When we consider elder abuse as strictly an individual problem or family affair, we fail to see how societal structures and systems create a world ripe for abuse. Getting old is seen as the sole qualification for being a victim, just as victims of sexual violence are assumed to have done something to “deserve” it.

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What To Do When Medicare Screws Up Your Aging Parent's Bill

#Medicare makes mistakes from time to time and can bill your aging parent for something it should legitimately pay for. The appeal from that wrong denial is a tedious, long process but it is worth it to get a telephone hearing. Adult kids may need to help aging parents if this happens to them.x

Originally posted 2017-08-03 18:50:36.

What To Do When Medicare Screws Up Your Aging Parent's Bill

#Medicare makes mistakes from time to time and can bill your aging parent for something it should legitimately pay for. The appeal from that wrong denial is a tedious, long process but it is worth it to get a telephone hearing. Adult kids may need to help aging parents if this happens to them.x

Originally posted 2017-08-03 16:50:42.

Worth Watching: Fifty-five, Unemployed and Faking Normal

(Editor’s Note: This story is part of a partnership between Chasing the Dream and Next Avenue.) Have you seen Elizabeth White‘s TEDx talk yet?  It’s based on White’s excellent book, Fifty-five Unemployed and Faking Normal, which sprang out of a Next Avenue essay she wrote in 2016.  Her TEDx talk has been drawing heartfelt comments…

The post Worth Watching: Fifty-five, Unemployed and Faking Normal appeared first on Next Avenue.

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Originally posted 2017-08-03 12:13:17.

Genetic Testing and Counseling for Breast Cancer Can Help Guide Decisions

After a routine mammogram in 2014 revealed a tumor in her right breast, Wendy Mayer was diagnosed with invasive lobular carcinoma. Fortunately, it had not spread. But her mother, her grandmother and a cousin had all had breast cancer, so on the advice of her doctors, Mayer underwent genetic testing. “I think waiting for those…

The post Genetic Testing and Counseling for Breast Cancer Can Help Guide Decisions appeared first on Next Avenue.

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Originally posted 2017-08-03 08:18:48.

What You Can Learn From Buying Coffee for Strangers

It was the typical crazy Monday morning. I was running late and didn’t even have time to make myself a cup of coffee before running out the door. Eying the short drive-through line at the Starbucks on my way to work, I determined that with a little luck, I could grab an iced latte and…

The post What You Can Learn From Buying Coffee for Strangers appeared first on Next Avenue.

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Originally posted 2017-08-03 08:18:38.

How Employers Read Between the Lines of Your Resume

Do you know what employers are truly looking for when they search each part of a resumé? Once you understand what hiring managers are inferring from yours, you’ll be able to create a great resumé and be more likely to then get a job interview with it. Current and Past Positions Your current position tells…

The post How Employers Read Between the Lines of Your Resume appeared first on Next Avenue.

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Originally posted 2017-08-02 07:43:54.

My 10th Birthday Party: Watching Nixon Resign

Editor’s Note: The following is a guest essay and does not necessarily reflect the opinions of Next Avenue. I sat cross-legged on the living room floor staring at the 19-inch wood-framed television as Richard Nixon climbed aboard the presidential helicopter. He turned to face the crowd, raised both arms in a V and made his…

The post My 10th Birthday Party: Watching Nixon Resign appeared first on Next Avenue.

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Originally posted 2017-08-02 07:43:45.

Canada’s millennials still dream of home ownership – and make it happen

Millennials dream of home ownership. In expensive cities like Toronto and Vancouver, they're saving up to buy homes by living with their parents or taking on tenants once they save up enough to buy. (Shutterstock)

Both Toronto and Vancouver had frantic housing markets in 2017 — prices skyrocketed and many properties sold with bidding wars that pushed their prices high over the listing price.

The 15 per cent surtax on foreign investors was introduced in Vancouver initially and then later in Toronto to help cool the market. Despite the fact that foreign ownership of real estate is not particularly high, the market in both cities slowed markedly (if temporarily) after the imposition of the taxes while vendors and purchasers waited to see what their impact would be.

The new mortgage qualification guidelines introduced in January 2018 have had the effect of reducing the amount of mortgage debt borrowers qualify for, and has also had an impact on activity in the market.

Both these policies have had a dampening effect on the number of resale transactions. Sales were down 19 per cent in January and February but overall, showed a small increase in March.

There has also been considerable media attention about falling average house prices, especially in Toronto, but this is misleading. Average house prices can fall because the characteristic of the average house sold changes — for example, smaller houses are selling while larger, more expensive ones are not.

Home ownership remains a Canadian dream

Real estate registry data specialist Teranet and the National Bank of Canada have created a price index that tracks price changes in the same houses as they sell over time, which provides a more accurate reading of price changes.

The April 2018 index shows moderate price increases in Toronto since the beginning of the year (0.3 per cent) and a year-over-year increase of 1.89 per cent. Vancouver shows a year-to-date increase of 2.41 per cent, and a substantial year-over-year increase of 15.89 per cent.

Despite these statistics, Canadians are hanging onto the goal of owning a home.

A recent RBC survey found this motivation strongest among millennials, with 39 per cent expecting to buy within the next two years, compared to 25 per cent overall for the survey. Condominium sales in Toronto in the past year have been much stronger than sales of single family homes presumably because of this demographic.

Fifty-nine per cent of millennials have already achieved their dream of home ownership, according to a survey by mortgage insurer Genworth Canada released in early May 2018. This seems high given the Statistics Canada rate of home ownership in 2016 of 43.6 per cent for 20-34 year olds.

However, Genworth reports that of those milllenials who own, 30 per cent bought a home (not always a first home) within the last two years despite the extreme nature of markets. This compares to nine per cent of respondents over 34.

Millennials keep pace on home ownership

Given the national home ownership rate of 67.8 per cent according to the 2016 census, millennials are not far behind. Ownership rates in 2016 were 66.5 per cent in Toronto and 63.7 per cent in Vancouver. Given the large increase in house prices in these two cities, the difference in ownership rates may deviate further from the national average in the next census.

With similar results to the RBC survey, Genworth’s study found that another 30 per cent of millennials plan to buy in the next two years.

This begs the question: How have millennials been able to fulfil their home ownership goals, and how will they be able to do so in the future?

One way is that they’re saving money by living at home with their parents after completing post-secondary education. Overall in Canada, more than a third of those 20 to 34 live at home with at least one parent. (This percentage is comparable in the United States, Britain and Australia).

Living at home with their parents is one way millennials are saving up to buy their own homes.
(Shutterstock)

In Toronto, this ratio rises to 47.4 per cent; in Vancouver it’s 38.6 per cent. This is a low-cost way for parents to help their children save for a downpayment (although in some cases, the child is supporting the parent rather than vice versa).

Parents help with downpayment

The RBC survey also revealed that 35 per cent of millennials planning on buying in the next two years anticipate getting help with the downpayment from their parents.

Baby boomers have benefited from home price increases recently, and can borrow against the equity in their homes relatively cheaply on secured lines of credit.

But this raises a couple of concerns.

Boomers may be taking on this debt at a time when they are planning retirement and their income is declining, leading to financial pressure for the parents. As well, not all parents can raise capital in this way, and some aren’t willing to — leaving an equity gap between those who get help from their parents and those who don’t and may not be able to buy as a consequence.

Millennials are being creative in others ways to assist with affordability. Most in Toronto and Vancouver who live in rental accommodation have roommates. Some take one or more roommates with them as renters when they buy to help with mortgage payments. Others buy a property with rental potential — a duplex or a house with a basement apartment.

Does roommate face eviction?

While these tactics may allow millennials to enter the housing market, they have implications for the long term. What happens when the homeowner decides to have a child? Will the roommate be evicted, and if so, how will the mortgage and day-care costs be covered? Having children may be postponed or not be an option at all.

Eventually, millennials may choose to leave these very expensive cities.

This is already happening in Ontario as people buy in the Waterloo area or Hamilton and commute to Toronto. After a few years of tedious commuting, they may look for employment closer to home.

A lack of affordable home ownership options in Toronto and Vancouver may eventually make them less attractive as locations for businesses if their prospective employees cannot afford to live within a reasonable proximity to work.

This is a complicated issue with no easy solution but one that needs continued attention —it has broader implications than just the fact that some millennials may not be able to buy homes.

The Conversation

Jane Londerville has received funding from the MacDonald Laurier Institute. She is a Senior Fellow of the MLI.

She is a member of both the Ontario and the Federal NDP parties.

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