5 Things To Know In Business Today: CMHC Spars With Canada’s ‘Intensely Self-Interested’ Housing Industry

Jonathan Hayward/The Canadian Press

CMHC strikes back

Evan Siddall, the CEO of Canada Mortgage and Housing Corp. (CMHC), seems worried the government hasn’t been defending its mortgage stress test against industry attacks, so ― as head of Canada’s government-run mortgage insurer ― he’s picking up the slack. “If we ease the stress test or extend mortgage amortizations, for sure it is increasing debt and it’s going to bump prices higher,” Siddall said in an interview with the Globe and Mail (paywall). “And those aren’t good for the country. And nobody was speaking out.”

The real estate industry, particularly mortgage brokers, have been complaining loudly that the mortgage stress test, which requires you to qualify at a rate two percentage points higher than the one you’re being offered, is shutting young homebuyers out of the market. But Siddall says he is getting a lot of support from policymakers and the public in his fight against the industry. “The real estate lobby is on the wrong side of this issue, they’re being intensely self-interested, and somebody had to call them on it frankly because they were getting traction.”

MEC accused of ‘pink tax’

Vancouver-based Mountain Equipment Co-Op has pulled two products from its online store after social media users accused the company of charging a “pink tax.” Users on Reddit pointed out that a product listed as a “Castelli head thingy” was selling for $30 for the men’s version, and $35 for the women’s version. The only apparent difference between them was colour, CBC News reported. MEC told the news network it is bound to comply with manufacturers’ pricing schemes, but will insist on equal pricing in this case because there aren’t “any significant differences in product features. We are connecting with our vendor partner now and expect both items to be back online tomorrow with identical pricing.”

Watch: 10 U.S. states that have eliminated the pink tax on menstrual products. Story continues below.

 

Google took $4.7 billion of the news industry’s money last year

Facebook and Google have monopolized the advertising industry to such an extent that it is killing news organizations’ business models, says John Stanton, a former Washington bureau chief for BuzzFeed and current co-founder of the Save Journalism Project. “They control so much of the ability to get your information out there, to get your stories out and then they control so much of the ad revenue coming back in that’s it’s crippling the industry again,” he told Hill.TV. A recent study found Google made US$4.7 billion in ad revenue from the news industry alone last year.

Tourist flights to International Space Station not exactly affordable

NASA has announced it will start offering space tourism flights to the International Space Station (ISS) as soon as 2020, but the price of admission won’t be cheap: Each seat is expected to cost more than US$50 million, according to USA Today. Pricey tickets or not, astronaut Christina Koch ― who lives on the ISS ― says it’s about time we started building an economy in low-earth orbit. The idea “has always been a driving element on the space station program and will make space more accessible to all Americans,” she said.

Seniors struggling as Canadian delinquencies spike

The rise in interest rates over the past few years has put an increasing number of Canadians into the financial dog house, with seniors taking the biggest hit, new data from credit ratings agency Equifax shows. Debt delinquencies ― meaning debt payments overdue by 90 or more days ― jumped 9.4 per cent among seniors over the past year, much more than the 3.5-per-cent spike for the population as a whole, Equifax found. Canadian seniors have been taking on a surprising amount of debt in recent years, some of it to fund their children’s or grandchildren’s overpriced houses.