FEDERAL BUDGET TOPICS: MIDDLE CLASS TERMINOLOGY, INDEXED LIVING WAGE, SELECTIVE SOCIAL DEMOCRACY, BANKRUPT COMPANY PENSIONS

FEDERAL BUDGET TOPICS:  MIDDLE CLASS TERMINOLOGY, INDEXED LIVING WAGE, SELECTIVE SOCIAL DEMOCRACY, BANKRUPT COMPANY PENSIONS

(These thoughts are purely the blunt, no nonsense personal opinions of the author about financial fairness and discrimination and are not intended to provide personal or financial advice).

The January, 2018 blog post addressed the first part of the budget proposal for a housing allowance as one solution to the housing crisis.  This blog post is the second part of a Federal Budget proposal as presented to a Conservative Member of Parliament .  

TANGIBLE VERSUS INTANGIBLE TERMINOLOGY OF MIDDLE CLASS AND FAMILIES

All political parties and society spew terminology of middle class (who-is-the-middle-class) and families ad nauseum.  Middle class and families are intangible terms.  Nobody, including political parties, can define what ‘middle class’ is and ‘families’ politically is an emotional term, often excluding singles (never married, no kids) from the definition.  Singles are basically invisible.  Many of the wealthy think  they are middle class.  For God’s sake, stop talking about the middle class (middle quintile) if you are not going to include the poor (bottom fourth and fifth quintiles), and replace ‘families’ with ‘household’ terminology.  The word “household” includes everybody, even singles.

INDEXED LIVING WAGE

Fact Check:  Recent Liberal revision of Canadian Pension Plan will increase CPP pensions for the wealthy, but not for the poor, because the minimum wage is not increasing proportionately to CPP increases.  Schizophrenic political financial formulas will ensure increasing disconnect between CPP increases and minimum wage because CPP is controlled federally, but minimum wage is controlled provincially.  TFSAs are indexed but not minimum wage.

LICO for 2015 (statcan.gc.ca/census-recensement/2016/ref/dict/tab/t4_3-eng.cfm) as defined by Statistics Canada shows Low Income Cutoff of $20,386 (equivalent to $11 minimum wage per hour for 35 hour workweek) for one person household, $24,811 for two persons household, $30,895 for three persons household and $38,544 for four persons household for large urban centre population centres 500,000 persons or more.

However, Living Wage studies show it is impossible to live a decent and respectful lifestyle on $11 minimum wage per hour.

The time has come for governments to stop handing out giveaways to the wealthy and surreptitiously making singles and poor families even poorer.  Implementation of an indexed living wage financial formula based on equivalence scales or Low Income Measure (LIM) would ensure greater financial fairness for all Canadians.

Nobody says this better than Andrew Coyne in excerpt from  “Why Minimum Wages are Harmful:  

‘Rather than blithely decreeing that employers must pay their employees an amount the rest of us think appropriate, and hoping it all works out for the best, the option is open to us as a society to put our money where our mouths: to finance a decent minimum income for all with our taxes – which unlike wages are not so easily avoided.  Maybe this latest increase in the minimum wage will prove less harmful than feared, but it is certain to be more harmful than the alternative:  a minimum income, socially guaranteed and socially financed.’

An indexed living wage could be financed if government benefit programs such as Guaranteed Income Supplement (GIS), Old Age Security (OAS), child benefit and pension splitting programs were replaced with a guaranteed living wage program based on equivalence scales or LIM along with elimination of financial loopholes such as Tax Free Savings Accounts (TFSA) for the wealthy.

SELECTIVE SOCIAL DEMOCRACY

All political parties continue to practice selective social democracy (selective) benefitting the upper middle class and wealthy most.

Supporting documentation:

https://www.statcan.gc.ca/pub/75-006-x/2015001/article/14194-eng.htm Changes in wealth across the income distribution, 1999 to 2012

Assets and wealth – In 2012, families in the top fifth income quintile held 47% of all wealth held by Canadian families (and the 5% of families located at the top of the income distribution held 21%). Families in the fourth quintile held 23%, while middle income quintile families in third quintile held 16%. The second income quintile held 10% of total wealth, while families in the bottom quintile held 4%.  (Fourth Quintile average wealth $641,000 and median wealth $388,200.  Fifth Quintile average wealth $1,300,000 and median wealth $879,100.)  In other words, about 40% of Canadian families held 70% of all wealth.  Governments keep talking about the middle class (20% of population), but never talk about the bottom two quintiles or 40% also known as the poor.

Many Canadians are fed up with the selective social democracy practised by both Conservatives and Liberals which benefit wealthy, upper middle class and married over single marital status persons and poor when they don’t need it.  The fourth and fifth quintiles or 40% of Canadians have assets and wealth over $750,000 (about $650,000 in 2012), yet they are able to still get OAS, max out TFSA accounts, pension split, and have huge inheritances while paying less tax.  Once again, the poor and many singles are being forced further towards poverty because they cannot achieve the same levels of wealth.  Self serving Conservatives accuse the Liberals of social democracy when Conservatives are guilty of the same selective social democracy.

When handing out benefits assets and wealth, not just income levels, need to be included in financial formulas.  Income levels are already a part of income tax returns.  It would be very easy to add question about assets, wealth and home ownership (i.e. five broad categories) in income tax returns and adjust financial benefits accordingly. (TFSA is an egregious program which benefits wealthy the most.  In thirty years and 3.5 percent compounded interest return, couples will have $600,000 in their financial portfolios, all tax free, and that is just TFSAs.  TFSAs are not included in income, so a person with a $600,000 TFSA can claim poverty and receive GIS and OAS.  A limit needs to be placed on TFSA assets and TFSA assets need to be counted as income).

Example of selective social democracy (boutique-tax-credits) – Family with four children has paid for house and one spouse working.  These parents in their thirties already have a net worth of $500,000.  They are able to receive Canada Child Benefits to the point where they can fully contribute to Tax Free Savings Account and increase their wealth.  Why is this family receiving child benefits without income plus assets and wealth being taken into consideration?  Poor families should be the only ones entitled to child benefits when they do not have the assets and wealth that this family has.

Poor families and singles have been made to be financial scapegoats and sugar-daddies to the upper middle class and wealthy by the Conservatives and the Liberals.

PROTECTION OF PENSIONS IN BANKRUPTCIES

If corporations and private enterprise cannot control their own financial affairs and shareholder greed during hard times and bankruptcies so that their employees are the biggest losers, then governments need to take responsibility to implement procedures and policies to offset employee losses (pensions).  And governments need to stop bailing out corporations like Bombardier.

“Workers Deserve Better” by Hassan Yussuff (federal-government-can-and-must-put-pensioners-first

‘The aftermath of 2008 financial crisis and recession has been littered with the shaken futures of those who once worked for seemingly unshakeable Canadian…..icons like Sears…..We hear lots in the news about these giants, but pensioners are losing out when smaller companies shut down, too.The lesson from every one of these examples is clear: workers and pensioners should not and must not be at end of the line when companies go under.

All of these workers have every right to feel betrayed by their former employers. Especially when they see executives walk away with rich bonuses, their careers, savings and retirements intact. But it isn’t just the companies who have betrayed these workers and so many thousands before them, it’s the federal government.

The federal government can and should be doing more for pensioners. For starters, it can support legislation being proposed by the NDP that recommends changing bankruptcy laws so that pensioners are first in line, not last, when it comes to paying down creditors. The same has been proposed by the Bloc Québécois.  Critics argue that putting pensioners first in line would leave lenders less inclined to help companies in crisis. But that argument isn’t good enough given how many people’s futures have been shattered. It also ignores the reality that lenders have ample resources to inform the risks they take. Workers, on the other hand, have no option but to trust that their employers won’t just walk away from their obligations to employees.

The federal government can and must ensure bankruptcy laws put pensioners at the front of the line. And it can go one very important step further: working with the provinces and territories to create Canada-wide mandatory pension insurance. Such a system would guarantee monthly pensions up to $2,500 whenever an employer with an underfunded pension plan, like Nortel or Sears, files for bankruptcy. It would be paid for by pension funds, a fair trade-off, given their tax-exempt status.

Pension insurance isn’t just about protecting pensioners. It helps companies with no prospects of recovery or needing temporary help. It’s not a new idea. The United States and the United Kingdom are among other countries with nationwide mandatory pension insurance. Today, in Canada, only Ontario has a mandatory fund. Created in 1980, it guarantees pensions to a maximum of $1,000 per month. That’s expected to increase to $1,500 per month.

Mandatory insurance is required for most of the important assets Canadians have. We are required to insure our vehicles, our homes, and even our jobs — employers must pay into Employment Insurance and Workers’ Compensation to operate. Mandatory insurance exists because some things are critical to protect. And as Canada’s unions have long argued, pensions are among the most critical assets anyone will ever have.

The federal government must demonstrate it has the courage to stand up for pensioners.  Thousands dedicate their working lives to trying to make the companies they worked for successful, and they deserve to be treated with respect and dignity, not told they’ll have no choice but to work through retirement and turn to government services for support.’

 

“Sears Canada Legacy:  private profits and socialized losses” by Jen Gerson (sears-canada):

‘While Sears’ shareholders pocketed payouts of $3.5 billion, the chain’s pension plans remained underfunded to the tune of $270 million…..

Instead,…. Sympathies (are) reserved for the likes of….the 72-year-old retiree is now pulling shifts at Home Depot after working for 35 years selling appliances for Sears. Thanks to the nature of bankruptcy, his defined benefit pension is likely to be cut by as much as 20 per cent — although the lawyers and actuaries are still working out the details.

While Sears’ shareholders pocketed payouts of $3.5 billion, the chain’s pension plans remained underfunded to the tune of $270 million. While its executives enjoyed dividends, they also accepted multi-million dollar retention bonuses in the company’s closing months.  Maybe those incentives weren’t quite high enough. In the end, they didn’t seem to do much good. Regardless, none of them now need worry about how to make ends meet…..

However, if fair-minded businesses wish to reduce the cries of more onerous regulation, stories like senior employees don’t play well. Every senior pensioner who must trek back to Home Depot in his twilight years is going to raise questions about whether or not treating pensioners as secondary to other kinds of creditors in cases of bankruptcy is a fair ordering of priorities.

It’s not hard to imagine a world in which executive retention bonuses and dividend payouts are made contingent on fully funding pension plans, for example. If corporate boards are not willing to hold their executives to account, they should not be surprised to find a government eager to do so.

Ontario has attempted to ameliorate the plight of bankrupt pension plans by creating the Pension Benefits Guarantee Fund, which guarantees the first $1,000 of pension income lost in such a case; that figure has been set to rise to $1,500…..The PBGF strikes me as well-intentioned, but still fundamentally problematic. It’s using taxpayer funds to secure individual benefits at the expense of a province that is already deeply indebted.

Further, it gives us yet another example of privatizing profits and socializing losses; of placing those who were least responsible for Sears’ decline—( employees) on the hook for his bosses’ failures.

In the end, that could be what defines Sears’ legacy, far more so than mouldering catalogs and storied corporate histories.’

POSITIVE GOVERNMENT ACTIONS

It is only fair that if criticisms are doled out, then positive government actions should also be acknowledged where due.

Income sprinkling – The federal Liberals have done the right thing by modifying the income sprinkling loophole.  For example, dividends that would have been received by the primary owner of the private corporation, would instead be paid to the spouse, partner or kids of the primary shareholder, who are often in lower tax brackets; therefore, the family’s total tax bill would be reduced.  Since singles in their financial circle are basically financially responsible to themselves,‘Income sprinkling’ is of less benefit to single marital status entrepreneurs so they will pay more tax.  Singles get nothing that is comparable.  Modification of income sprinkling ensures financial fairness for singles.

Increasing the GIS supplement for single seniors is a positive, but still not enough – As the Conservative MLA knows, this author has lobbied for financial fairness and inclusion of singles in financial budgets.  The federal Conservatives did propose an increase for poverty stricken single seniors, but then were voted out and replaced by federal Liberals.

The Liberals in Budget 2016 proposed to increase the GIS top-up benefit by up to $947 annually for the most vulnerable single seniors starting in July 2016, which will support those seniors who rely almost exclusively on OAS and GIS benefits and may therefore be at risk of experiencing financial difficulties.

This enhancement more than doubles the current maximum GIS top-up benefit and represents a 10% increase in the total maximum GIS benefits available to the lowest-income single seniors. This measure represents an investment of over $670 million per year and will improve the financial security of about 900,000 single seniors across Canada.

While this is a step in the right direction, poverty stricken senior singles will receive only $947 annually while families with children are receiving Canada Child Benefits sometimes equaling thousands of dollars annually.  Financial fairness for all Canadians regardless of marital status with and without children would be ensured by having housing allowance and indexed living wage programs based on equivalence scales as outlined above.

CONCLUSION:

It is time for governments to stop the selective social democracy where the upper middle class and wealthy receive benefits and tax breaks they don’t need.  Assets and wealth in addition to income need to be included in financial formulas when handing out government benefits.  Corporations need to be held to greater accountability regarding bankrupt pensions and low income levels of their employees.

A housing allowance, indexed living wage, and government subsidized child care (as well as paid for first and second year of post secondary education- added Feb. 26/18) would help to alleviate the housing crisis and poverty resulting in singles and poor families being pushed even further into poverty.

(This blog is of a general nature about financial discrimination of individuals/singles.  It is not intended to provide personal or financial advice).

HOUSING BIGGEST LIFETIME EXPENSE, NOT CHILDREN. IS HOUSING ALLOWANCE THE ANSWER?

HOUSING BIGGEST LIFETIME EXPENSE, NOT CHILDREN.   IS HOUSING ALLOWANCE THE ANSWER?

(These thoughts are purely the blunt, no nonsense personal opinions of the author about financial fairness and discrimination and are not intended to provide personal or financial advice).

(This discussion on the housing crisis was presented to a Conservative Member of Parliament for future consideration on federal budget consultations.  This is Part 1 of the presentation.  Further suggestions for budget considerations will be presented in next blog post).

AFFORDABLE HOUSING

First, affordable housing, affordable housing and more affordable housing.  Both Conservatives and Liberals have failed to provide solutions for affordable housing (Conservatives during their 40 year reign in Alberta had almost zero affordable housing, raised taxes for the poor from 8% to 10% with flat tax implementation and catered to the wealthy while having no financial plan for managing revenues from oil wealth, and therefore, were unprepared for the oil price crash-Peter Lougheed excluded).

FACT CHECK:  FOREIGN HOME OWNERSHIP AND MULTIPLE HOME OWNERSHIP

Canadian residents spent $2.2 billion on Florida real estate in the 12 months ended June 2014, making them Florida’s No. 1 international buyer of residential real estate (canadian-snowbirds). About half of Canadian buyers spent less than US$200,000 on Florida purchase and just 16 per cent paid more than US$400,000.  About half of Canadians purchased a condominium/apartment and 38 per cent bought a single-family detached home.  More than half (53 per cent) of Canadian buyers intended to use their Florida home as a vacation property (resulting in empty houses during part of year), 14 percent planned to rent it out, 17 percent said they will do both. Forty per cent of Canadian buyers purchased real estate in Florida, 23 per cent in Arizona, and 10 per cent in California. Dollar value of Canadian sales for 2009 $8.9 billion, 2010 $17.1 billion, 2011 $13.0 billion, 2012 $15.9 billion, 2013 $11.8 billion, 2014 $13.8 billion (total $80.5 billion in six years).  Fifty percent of sales were in four states of Florida, California, Texas and Arizona.

Both foreign home ownership in Canada and Canadian foreign home ownership in USA equal $80 billion (Canadian foreign home ownership is $80 billion in six years).  There is so much hype about foreign home ownership in Canada, but Canadians are so hypocritical that they can’t look in their own backyard regarding snowbird foreign home ownership in USA, having their Canadian homes empty for six months of the year and spending their money in USA for six months.  What does this mean? – those Canadians who are not so fortunate to be snowbirds like the poor are paying more to support the taxes and GDP of Canada.

Toronto – 121,100 people in the GTA owned at least one other home in 2016. Question: how many Canadians own multiple properties in Canada and USA (snowbirds) while in any given year 200,000 to 300,000 Canadians face homelessness?

Information from the following article provides an interesting perspective on housing:  (Renter-Struggle-Ultimate-Housing-Problem)

‘More than four million Canadian households — about 30 percent of total households — rent.

Without federal help, low-income renters’ struggle to find homes worsens.  There is, however, a lot of federal money reserved for homeowners. Owners selling their principal residence are exempted from capital gains tax, a tax break worth about $5 billion a year.

The federal government offers this aid for owners despite the fact they earn more than renters. Owners make more than twice as much as renters do at $67,522 a year, according to the last long form census in 2006. Owners also have 37 times the median net worth of renters, thanks to their homes, at $513,000, according to 2012 CMHC numbers. This wealth gap widens over time.

“The great thing about ownership is that you have an asset for when you retire… Politicians use the line that if you work hard and buy a house you’re going to be OK,” said the University of Toronto’s Hulchanski. “But what about renters? The rest of you are just lazy? And you’re going to suffer now? You’re going to suffer when you get old?”  Hulchanski calls the neglect of renters and prioritization of homeowners discrimination.  “That’s no way to organize society.” ’

HOMEOWNERSHIP

  • New data from the 2011 NHS (National Housing Survey) showed that 69.0% of households in Canada, or 9.2 million of 13.3 million, owned their dwelling.
  • Four in five (82.4%) couple-family households owned their dwelling, while less than half (48.5%) of non-family households (singles) owned their dwelling. Just over half (55.6%) of lone-parent households owned their dwelling.

Dr. Ben Carson (appointee of Trump who was put in charge of housing but knows nothing about housing) made statement that many of the poor create their own poverty.  This statement is so false.  Politicians, private enterprise, corporations and society have purposefully or unknowingly pushed singles and poor families further towards poverty by making them pay more.  Whether it is purposeful or unknowing still makes the perpetrators guilty of complicity in benefiting middle class and wealthy more.

Housing is a prime example.  Singles and poor families pay more for housing while being shoved into smaller and smaller spaces.  Examples of inequality of Canadian values in housing are as follows:

  • One condo development in housing complex includes 1 bed, 1 bath, 1 patio 552 sq. ft. micro-condo with starting price of $299,900 or $543 per sq. ft.  Three bed, 2.5 bath, 2 patios, 2 and 3 story 1830 sq. ft. condos in same complex are priced from $649,900 to $749,900 or $355 to $409 per sq. ft.  Ultra-deluxe model master bedroom suite with his and hers closets and spa bathroom covers entire third 600 sq. ft. floor.  Third bedroom is bigger than total square footage of $299,900 condo and sells for $150 to $200 less per square foot for two-thirds more space.
  • Vancouver 100-square-foot apartments equivalent to size of two jail cells rent for $570 a month (again most likely to be occupied by singles).  Renters in the 50 units share 11 bathrooms and laundry facilities over the four floors (and no kitchens?).

Where is the critical thinking of ripple effects where owners (most likely to be singles) of micro-condos have to proportionately pay more house taxes, education taxes, mortgage interest, insurance and real estate fees on less house and likely less take home pay for their biggest lifetime expense?

Which of those who spout family values as a personal issue believes females should go traipsing outside of their apartments to use bathroom in middle of the night? Who believes it is humane to stick anyone into a 100 square foot or smaller units (90 square foot units in Vancouver) plus charge excessive rents?

Who makes the decisions behind loan-shark or pay day loan type pricing where financial targeting of the most vulnerable occurs?  It is private enterprise, land developers,  cities (government), and greedy ‘what the market can bear’ persons that make these decisions.  Where does the bafflegab of neighbor helping neighbor, personal discipline, caring, responsibility and respect fit into these decisions?

HOUSING IS BIGGEST LIFETIME EXPENSE, NOT CHILDREN

Housing is a necessity regardless of whether or not households have children.  If lifetime length of paying for housing is from 20 to 80-90 years of age, then housing is a basic necessity spanning over sixty to seventy years.  Look at any Living Wage study, and it will show that as number of persons decrease per household, the greater the proportion of income will be spent on housing, yet most government benefit programs target only families with children or senior married or coupled households, thus leaving single person and poor households out of financial formulas.

If a household pays $1000 rent per month, then housing may cost $720,000 over a lifetime with nothing to show for it financially while supporting greedy real estate owners who pass their greed unto renters (and often ignoring renter psychological impact of excessive internal and external noise, being kicked out by landlord under guise of needing to renovate so prices can be raised, and dingy secondary suites, etc.). That is three quarters of a million dollars ‘lost’ to the  renter over a lifetime!

Homeowners after twenty five years and $1400 mortgage per month will likely have a $300,000 paid for house ($15,000 down payment and 3.70 interest rate for 3 years amortized at 25 years) which may or not increase in value as part of their assets and wealth financial portfolio (minus maintenance and house taxes)  They have the ability to move up or down in housing as dictated by their lifestyles changes.

Raising children covers only twenty to twenty five of those years, but both the Conservatives and Liberals have brought in child care benefits that benefit only households with children and in some cases child care benefits even pay entire mortgage and rental housing for these households.  Pension splitting government benefits apply only to senior married or coupled households.

Rent controls, rental vouchers don’t work and the greed of “what the market can bear” will not control the outrageous upswing of housing prices.  Charity is not the answer as charity masks the problem, but doesn’t solve it.

HOUSING ALLOWANCE

The Liberal proposal for a housing allowance is a step in right direction.  Instead of Liberals and Conservatives continuing their infighting and vote getting tactics, how about doing right thing and making housing allowance a permanent solution throughout entire lifetime, just like healthcare?  How about involving all political parties in defining a solution, now wouldn’t that be a novel idea? Housing allowance should be based on not just income, but also assets and wealth. Those who own their homes outright or more than one home should get zero assistance for housing allowance.  Housing is a human right.

One suggested housing allowance (renting or mortgage) formula based on of equivalence scales or LIM (Low Income Measure) (equivalence-scales) could include starting point of $500 (based on 1.0 LIM value) per month for one adult person household, $700 (1.4 LIM value) for two adult persons households or one adult, one child households and $1,000 (2.0 LIM value) for two adult, two children household. Amounts would be based on level of income AND assets and wealth). Households who have fully paid for ownership in housing, own more than one home and/or have ample wealth would get zero dollars for housing allowance.

CONCLUSION

Housing is a basic human right and is just one element of Maslow’s Hierarchy of need.  The inaction by politicians, governments, private enterprise and society on housing, especially in the so called free democratic world, is an egregious moral and ethical affront to the most vulnerable of our society.

(This blog is of a general nature about financial discrimination of individuals/singles.  It is not intended to provide personal or financial advice).

‘EMPTY HOUSE SPECULATOR’ SYNDROME EQUALS THEFT AND UNETHICAL INVESTING

‘EMPTY HOUSE SPECULATOR’ SYNDROME EQUALS THEFT AND UNETHICAL INVESTING

(These thoughts are purely the blunt, no nonsense personal opinions of the author about financial fairness and discrimination and are not intended to provide personal or financial advice.) Post updated June 28, 2017.

Garry Marr’s Financial Post May 8, 2017 article “Spectre of empty houses haunts Canada’s two most expensive housing markets” (expensive) states that in Toronto ‘some believe vacant homes exist on a widespread basis, bought up by a stream of investors so consumed by speculation – or just a safe place to park their money – that they can’t even bother to rent out their properties in markets where the going rate can easily top $3 per square foot…..data seems to indicate there were as ‘many as 66,000 vacant units in Toronto in 2016 equivalent to 5.6 per cent of the city’s total stock of 1.2 million private dwelling units’.  If one calculates this based on a family of four one could guess that about 16,500 families are missing out on Toronto housing.  But wait, the article goes on to say that of the empty homes, 90 per cent are condos or apartments. If condos and apartments are more likely to be bought/rented by singles and poor families, then this would mean singles and poor families are more likely to be hurt by the empty units and Toronto housing crises.

Matt Levin’s Los Angeles Daily News May 13, 2017  ‘Amid state housing crisis, why 2 out of 5 millennials still live at home’ (millennials) article states ‘State lawmakers have introduced more than 130 bills this legislative session to try to solve California’s housing affordability crisis, proposing everything from 150 square-foot apartments to a $3 billion affordable housing bond’.  ‘Nearly a decade removed from the depths of the Great Recession, a staggering 38 percent of California’s 18 to 34-year-olds still live with their parents, according to U.S. Census data. That’s roughly 3.6 million people stuck at home.  If “unlaunched” California millennials formed their own state, they would be entitled to more electoral votes than Connecticut, Iowa or Utah.  If they formed their own city, it would be the third largest in the country’.  California’s population is slightly larger than Canada’s population.

‘Huge demand for tiny rental units in Vancouver’, by Bruce Constatineau in 2014 (rental) talks about  a 100-square-foot unit for $570 a month and there’s a waiting list of people wanting to rent other units when they become available.  In another development there are units as small as 90 square feet where each unit contains a tiny sink and fridge (no cooking facilities and windows?).. Renters in the 50 units share 11 bathrooms, and there are laundry facilities on each of the four floors.  Apparently  the mini-sized apartments attract a wide range of renters — from ages 19 to 56 — who want to live on their own with a downtown Vancouver address.  Budget-minded renters…..can find similar-sized or even smaller cubbyholes downtown for anywhere between $400 and $600 a month.  It is further stated than In order to make them affordable, they need to be very small, condensed units with shared washrooms. That’s just a fact of life.  Really?  The pictures of these units speak a thousand words.

Edmonton, Alberta is also considering construction of 100 square foot units.

Empty house speculator syndrome is equivalent to unethical investing and theft since the empty units have been taken off the market and are not available for occupancy.  Ethical investing excludes chocolate companies that use child labor. Children are taught it is wrong to ‘take candy from babies’, shoplifters are jailed for minor thefts and yet it appears to be okay for speculators to ‘steal’ housing all within legal limits of the law.  The present housing market is based on greed.  Greed begets greed and greed trumps family values.  In housing singles are worth less than other members of the family unit.  The bar has now been reset to a new low where it is okay for them to live in spaces equivalent in size to two jail cells (average jail cell is 45 square feet and provides ‘free’ accommodation and meals, but you can’t leave).

The complete disregard of the housing crisis is heightened by Dr. Ben Carson, head of the Department of Housing and Urban Development USA, who states poverty is a “state of mind” and Trumpian politics which rob the poor to pay the rich.  Liberals and Conservatives in Canada are no different.  The housing crisis is not a “state of mind”, but rather has been brought on by inadequate rules and regulations on housing, failure to increase the minimum wage to a living wage and the upper middle classes and wealthy paying less and getting more for housing and tax loopholes.

Housing is a basic human right as determined internationally in the “Universal International Declaration of Human Rights” and “International Covenant on Economic, Social and Cultural Rights” and is one of the principles of Maslow’s Hierarchy of need. In Canada there appears to be no shame in robbing singles, poor families and indigenous people of their housing.  Housing investors, politicians and families need to take a look in the mirror and reset their moral and ethical compasses to ‘true North’ re housing crisis.

LESSONS THAT SHOULD/COULD BE LEARNED

Where are the parents of millennials?  How can they allow the housing crisis and their children to be housed in 90 square foot units and smaller?  Where are the family values for housing?

Where are the governments, politicians and city counsels that have allowed the housing crisis to take over and last so long?  Where are the rules and regulations to prevent the building of ridiculously small units with price gouging rents?

Why do singles, who are more likely to live in small spaces, always have to pay more per square foot, sometimes outrageously so ($570 for 100 square foot unit)?  The upside-down pricing of housing (affordable-housing) where the smaller the space, the higher the price is per square foot needs to stop.  Doubling the price on rent equals pure greed and unethical investing.  Why do the upper middle class and wealthy pay so much less per square foot for their housing?  The estimate for the amount of house taxes, etc. that is collected by not making the wealthy pay their fair share per square foot must be astounding.

How do occupants of these small spaces learn life lessons, such as cooking for themselves, buying food and managing finances?

The minimum wage needs to be raised to an indexed living wage (cause-and-effect-of-financial-policies).  Building affordable housing will not solve the problem if the minimum wage is not raised.

Humane principles-there are many humane associations and principles related to animals, so where are the humane principles for humans re housing – 100 sq. ft. at $570 rent is not humane.

Where are the rules and regulations on how small a space can be developed, such as a minimum of 350 square feet, so at least there can be a bathroom and cooking facilities within the unit?  Surely, there must be point where it is is not financially feasible for developers to develop small units with minimum square footage in relation to the cost of building the unit and also provides dignity to occupants of these units.

Alberta Health Minimum Housing and Health Standards (Housing-Minimum) – the following condensed excerpt provides information on some Alberta standards for housing.

Space for Sleeping purposes (overcrowding): The owner of a housing premises shall not permit it to become or remain overcrowded. (a) A housing premises shall be deemed to be overcrowded if: (i) a bedroom in it has less than 3m2 (32ft2)of total floor area and 5.6m3 (197ft3) of air space for each adult sleeping in the bedroom, (ii) in the case of a dormitory, the sleeping area in the dormitory has less than 4.6m2 (49.5ft2) of floor space and 8.5 m3 (300ft3) of air space for each adult sleeping in the sleeping area, or (iii) a habitable room in it that is not a bedroom but is used for sleeping purposes in combination with any other use has less than 9.5m2 (102ft2) of floor space and 21.4m3 (756ft3) of air space for each adult sleeping in the habitable room. (b) For the purposes of calculating this section, a person who is more than 1 year of age but not more than 10 years of age shall be considered as a July 20, 1999 9 Revised June 30, 2012 Alberta Health Minimum Housing and Health Standards © 1999–2012 Government of Alberta 1/2(one half) adult and a person who is more than 10 years of age shall be considered as 1 adult; (c) This section does not apply to a hotel/motel.

Food Preparation Facilities:  (a) Every housing premises shall be provided with a food preparation area, which includes: (i) a kitchen sink that is supplied with potable hot and cold water and suitably sized to allow preparation of food, washing utensils and any other cleaning operation; and (ii) cupboards or other facilities suitable for the storage of food; and (iii) a counter or table used for food preparation which shall be of sound construction and furnished with surfaces that are easily cleaned; and (iv) a stove and a refrigerator that are maintained in a safe and proper operating condition. The refrigerator shall be capable of maintaining a temperature of 4 degrees C. (400F). (b) Shared Kitchen Facilities Occupants of a housing premises with more than one dwelling may share food preparation facilities provided that: (i) the food preparation facilities are located in a common kitchen room, (ii) the occupants have access to the common kitchen room from a public corridor without going outside the building, (iii) the common kitchen room is located on the same floor as, or on the next storey up or down from the floor on which the dwelling unit is located, July 20, 1999 10 Revised June 30, 2012 Alberta Health Minimum Housing and Health Standards © 1999–2012 Government of Alberta (iv) the food preparation facilities shall not serve more than eight persons, and (v) the refrigerator shall provide a minimum volume of two cubic feet of storage for each intended occupant.

Washroom Facilities:  Except where exempt by regulation, every housing premises shall be provided with plumbing fixtures of an approved type consisting of at least a flush toilet, a wash basin, and a bathtub or shower. (a) The washbasins and bathtub or shower shall be supplied with potable hot and cold running water. (b) The wash basin should be in the same room as the flush toilet or in close proximity to the door leading directly into the room containing the flush toilet. (c) All rooms containing a flush toilet and/or bathtub or shower shall be provided with natural or mechanical ventilation. Shared Washrooms (d) Occupants of a housing premises with more than one dwelling unit may share a flush toilet, wash basin and bathtub or shower provided that: (i) the occupants have access to the washroom facility without going through another dwelling or outside of the building; and (ii) the facility is located on the same floor as, or on the next storey up or down from the floor on which the suite is located; and (iii) each group of plumbing fixtures (toilet, washbasin, bathtub or shower) shall not serve more than eight persons.

(This blog is of a general nature about financial discrimination of individuals/singles.  It is not intended to provide personal or financial advice.)

AFFORDABLE HOUSING CRISIS BASED ON PURE UNADULTERATED GREED OF FORCING SINGLES AND POOR FAMILIES TO PAY MORE FOR HOUSING

AFFORDABLE HOUSING CRISIS BASED ON PURE UNADULTERATED GREED OF FORCING SINGLES AND POOR FAMILIES TO PAY MORE FOR HOUSING

(These thoughts are purely the blunt, no nonsense personal opinions of the author about financial fairness and discrimination and are not intended to provide personal or financial advice.)

This blog has published several posts on affordable housing  and psychological impact (housing).  How can we not talk about it yet again?  This post shows how much of the housing crisis is based on pure greed and the greedy appear to have no shame.  They do not seem to care that housing is a basic human right (as determined internationally in the “Universal International Declaration of Human Rights” and “International Covenant on Economic, Social and Cultural Rights”) and is one of the principles of Maslow’s Hierarchy of need. There also appears to be no shame that singles are more likely to have to pay more per square foot for their housing purchase or rent than for any other member of the family unit.  Poor families are less able to purchase detached housing so are forced to purchase or rent condos or apartments, many of which are not ideally suited to families. Besides purchase or rent (rent-or-own), what other options are there except to sleep in vehicles, couch-surf or live in homeless shelters?

The Calgary Herald May 8, 2017 article “Nobody’s Home” by Garry Marr further magnifies the plight of the housing industry in Canada much of which appears to be totally based on greed.  The article states that in Toronto ‘some believe vacant homes exist on a widespread basis, bought up by a stream of investors so consumed by speculation – or just a safe place to park their money – that they can’t even bother to rent out their properties in markets where the going rate can easily top $3 per square foot…..data seems to indicate there were as ‘many as 66,000 vacant units in Toronto in 2016.  That’s equivalent to 5.6 per cent of the city’s total stock of 1.2 million private dwelling units’.  If one calculates this based on a family of four one could guess that this means about 16,500 families are missing out on Toronto housing.  But wait, the article goes on to say that of the empty homes, 90 per cent were condos or apartments.  If one assumes that condos and apartments are more likely to be bought/rented by singles and poor families, then this would mean singles and poor families are more likely to be hurt by the empty units and Toronto housing crises.  Just what are cities and towns and developers going to do with the fact that singles and poor families are the biggest losers in Canada’s housing crises?

How do speculators manage to purchase housing with, for example, $20,000 down payment, $1,200 mortgage payment and $200 house taxes per month and keep the place empty while maintaining another residence to live in (they have to live somewhere)?  These people must be very wealthy and quite greedy to not care about those at the bottom of the property ladder?

Maclean’s Magazine May, 2017 article ‘Through the Roof’ by Joe Castaldo (archive.macleans) shows landlord greed when rent is doubled from $1,200 to $2,400 for a one bedroom apartment in the Toronto’s The Bridge Condo.  Sales for The Bridge condo complex (the-bridge) over last 12 months shows smallest one bedroom 449 sq. ft.condos sold for $224,000 or $498 per sq. ft.; sales price of average size one bedroom 521 sq. ft was $313,104 or $600 per sq. ft, and largest one bedroom 569 sq. ft. was $405,500 or $711 per sq. ft.  Two bedroom plus den 740 sq.ft. condos sold for $360,000 or $486 per sq. ft. (figures do not include parking and storage fees). The largest two bedrooms plus den condos sold for basically same price per square foot as the smallest one bedroom condos.  The pure unadulterated greed continues to force singles who are more likely to own/rent one bedroom condos to pay more per square foot for the smallest spaces with ripple effect of them paying more house taxes, mortgage interest and real estate fees on less space and more likely less income and biggest lifetime expense (upside-down-housing).

Singles are told to ‘go live with someone’ if they are having housing problems.  So, in this case, what are singles to do except ‘couch surf’/share one bedroom with someone they may not know well?  Renters also are likely forced to move every few years when landlords do renovations and/or raise rent on their dwellings.

Story of single mother with son – son still lives at home, mother helped him purchase a dwelling which he rents out because he would like to financially get ahead.  Moral of this story, single mother likely has jeopardized her ability to save for retirement by helping her son especially if the housing market crashes and both her and her son are left having to pay mortgage worth more than the house. Because this is her child, she has done this out of love for her son.  As most parents seem to do when their kids are still living at home, he is likely not paying her anything for rent or food.  Juxtaposition is that son is renting out this dwelling at market value to some Joe Shmoe who cannot afford to buy something, but has to rent.  To the mother and the son, they don’t see this person(s) as the child of someone else (part of the family unit), so it is okay to ‘sucker punch’ this person(s) with rent at or above market value.  Greed begets greed and greed trumps family values.

Financial Post April 28, 2017 ‘LePage warns of housing ‘market whiplash’ article by Garry Marr (market) states ‘concerns that government is going to slap more rules on the housing market, particularly aimed at Toronto’s residential section, appear to be growing among the real estate industry.  Royal LePage joined the chorus of those advising that Ottawa and its provincial counterparts should tread cautiously before considering everything from rent control to a tax on foreign investors.  “An unfortunate side-effect of heavy-handed government regulatory intervention is that we risk whiplash,” Phil Soper, chief executive and president of LePage, said in a statement.’…..Data from the Toronto Real Estate Board this month showed prices in Canada’s largest city were up 33 per cent in March from a year ago.’ (The inaction by politicians, developers and real estate companies will only worsen the housing crisis).

Los Angeles Daily News May 13, 2017  ‘Amid state housing crisis, why 2 out of 5 millennials still live at home’ article by Matt Levin (why-2-out-of-5-millennials-still-live-at-home) articulates ‘State lawmakers have introduced more than 130 bills this legislative session to try to solve California’s housing affordability crisis, proposing everything from 150 square-foot apartments to a $3 billion affordable housing bond.’ (Oh yes, that is what single millennials deserve – to live in 150 square feet that includes kitchen, bedroom and bathroom all in one space which is the equivalent to the size of the bedroom that person lived in as a child)…..Nearly a decade removed from the depths of the Great Recession, a staggering 38 percent of California’s 18 to 34-year-olds still live with their parents, according to U.S. Census data. That’s roughly 3.6 million people stuck at home. Think of it this way: If “unlaunched” California millennials formed their own state, they would be entitled to more electoral votes than Connecticut, Iowa or Utah. If they formed their own city, it would be the third largest in the country’.  (The rest of the article is a very good read on why millennials are being forced to live at home with their parents including low wages).

CONCLUSION

There is appears to be no willingness in Canada on the part of politicians, developers, real estate companies and families to deal with the housing crisis except to apply band-aid solutions or to take no action at all.  How many more times can it be said that until housing greed is resolved by taking ethical and moral responsibility and until the minimum wage is changed to an indexed living wage, the housing crisis will continue to worsen?

(This blog is of a general nature about financial discrimination of individuals/singles.  It is not intended to provide personal or financial advice.)

AFFORDABLE HOUSING DISCRIMINATION FOR SINGLES PERPETUATED BY MISINFORMATION AND LACK OF KNOWLEDGE

AFFORDABLE HOUSING DISCRIMINATION FOR SINGLES PERPETUATED BY MISINFORMATION AND LACK OF KNOWLEDGE

(These thoughts are purely the blunt, no nonsense personal opinions of the author about financial fairness and discrimination and are not intended to provide personal or financial advice.)

This blog has posted several articles about affordable housing for singles and poor families.  It is disconcerting how family and social agencies, community services continue to get the facts wrong even when presented with logical arguments about affordable housing discrimination for singles and  poor families.

Recently, a local family and community services organization seeking input on housing arranged focus groups to discuss this subject.

Attendance at one of these focus groups by the author highlighted several areas of concern.

First, discussions started with presentation of a chart showing family unit description. One chart showed five stages of family unit life cycle being childhood, early adulthood, married and rearing of children, empty nest and senior stages.  It was disconcerting to note that this chart did not include ever singles (never married, no kids) in the family unit.  After the childhood and early adult stages, singles were not included and were, in fact, invisible in the family unit chart.

Second, regarding affordable housing and renting, discussions revealed there is an intense lack of knowledge regarding the discrimination of singles and housing issues (housing).  As outlined in previous blog articles, it has been shown that singles are generally being pushed by builders, planners and government into smaller spaces while paying more for micro-condos on less space and less income.

(Examples:  In same complex-1 bed, 1 bath, 1 patio micro-condos of 552 sq. ft. with starting price of $299,900.  Two patio, 2 bed, 2 full bath, 2 story 1232 sq. ft. condos were already sold out so price not available.  Then there were 2 patio, 3 bed, 2.5 bath, 2 and 3 story 1830 sq. ft. condos priced from $649,900 to $749,900.   When price per square foot is calculated, micro-condo is selling for $543 per sq. ft. while three bed condos are selling from $355 to $409 per sq. ft.

Another example, Luxury Condos presently for sale in downtown Calgary (built in 2007)

  • Sixth floor condo 1 bed, one bath 645 sq. ft. on podium level with direct access to large terraced area (no private balcony), $359,000 for $556 per sq. ft.
  • Nineteenth floor 2 bed, 2 bath with den and balcony 946 sq. ft., $449,900 for $475 per sq. ft.
  • Twenty-fifth floor 2 bed, 2 bath plus den, 2,119 sq. ft. (2 balconies 23 ft. X 8 ft. and 23 ft. X 16 ft.-this is Trumpian huge!), $998,000 for $470 per sq. ft.)

Ripple effects are owners (more likely to be singles or a single parent with one child) of micro-condos have to proportionately pay more house taxes, education taxes, mortgage interest and real estate fees on less house and possibly less take home pay for biggest lifetime expense.  When it is sold, will seller recoup buying price?

Builders will argue that it is more expensive to develop (5 to 10 percent more per square foot)  and operate (i.e., increased trash pickup because of higher occupancy, $5 more per square foot) micro-condos than conventional units because of the planning, etc. required to fit everything into the small spaces.  However, this reasoning flies in the face of logic when it is known that bathrooms and large gourmet kitchens plus expensive outside amenities are some of the most expensive parts of housing.  Two or two and half baths and large gourmet kitchens in a house or condo surely should balance out some of the expense of developing micro-units.  Also, many more micro-units can be developed in same space occupied by average sized or large housing units.

When question was asked in focus groups why senior singles have to pay more their spaces on one income than senior married or coupled persons, the answer was that singles pay more because they are using more space.

Does anyone understand the juxtaposition and absurdity of these two scenarios? First, singles are told they only need smaller spaces while paying more for them and then as seniors, they are told they are using too much space and, therefore, have to pay more for them.   Singles will never achieve financial fairness for housing throughout their entire life cycle of adulthood and as seniors until criteria for housing remains the same throughout the cycle.

Same premise for pricing of housing can be applied to renting (deserve).  Singles (persons more likely to rent small spaces) have to pay more for these spaces because that is what present business and societal principles dictate.  The smaller the rental unit, the larger the applied dollar rental per square foot of the rental unit.

It is absurd that singles and poor families (for example, single parent with one child) have to pay more and get less for housing rentals.  Even renting a room in a detached house usually is based on absurd rents ($500) charged by the owner.  An outside the box, very fair solution could be to, for example, charge a set rate of $100 per 100 square feet plus utilities in proportion to amount of square footage being rented.  A 250 square foot dwelling would rent for $250, and a 1000 square foot dwelling would rent for $1,000 plus utilities.  Renter would pay price related to price per square foot and not the whims of the market and the greed of developers and owners.  Renters of smaller units would pay a price that is much more fair in relation to renters of larger square foot units.  The set price per square foot could be adjusted as required as housing prices increase or decrease.

“City Research shows gaps in housing supply” from CREB Now, March 10 to 16, 2017 issue states from the ‘Housing in Calgary:  An Inventory of Housing Supply 2015/2016” report that just half of households in the city have sufficient income to buy a starter home in the condominium market.  The report also showed Calgary has the highest rents in the lowest tiers of rentals, contributing to the fact that 21 per cent of households do not have enough income to rent an average apartment.  Additionally, rent in senior’s housing complexes are also higher than average.

CONCLUSION

There are many more examples of financial unfairness, but just the above few show how housing world for low-income families and individuals/singles has been completely flipped upside down and topsy-turvy.  Young individuals/singles not yet married are facing huge financial hurdles because of low incomes, less full time jobs, enormous education debt, and out of control housing costs.  Families (parents), governments, society, corporations, businesses to date have failed to provide support and responsibility that is needed to ensure all Canadian citizens are able to financially take care of themselves without financial parental aid, inheritances of parents and without bias of gender, race, marital status or income level.

Low income families, individuals/singles and young adults not yet married who can apply simple math and critical thinking skills are in financial despair and angst knowing that they, as the most vulnerable citizens of this country, have been targeted and pawned to pay more for housing than middle class families and the wealthy.  It is the duty of politicians elected by the people, for the people to represent all Canadian citizens, not just vote getting middle class families.

ADDITIONAL INFORMATION FROM MEDIA SOURCES

AFFORDABLE HOUSING WAS NOT A PART OF CONSERVATIVE PARTY DEFINITION OVER FORTY YEAR REIGN

“Calgary Herald”, June 29, 2016 “City takes aim at failing affordable housing plan” states ‘just 1,048 new affordable housing units created in Calgary over the past 14 years, the need for affordable housing was great in 2002 and it remains so today.  Calgary has half the amount of  affordable housing as the national average, and a total of zero affordable housing units have opened in the city in the past three years….the city wants to see 1,500 affordable housing units built in the next two years – more than the number built in the past fourteen years – and staff believe it’s a goal that’s possible given money pledged from the provincial and federal governments, both of which have recently signalled a renewed commitment to affordable housing.  Housing a homeless person has been shown to save taxpayers $34,000  annually….Currently 88,000 Calgary households earning less than $60,000 are in need of affordable housing.’

Alberta Conservatives and Federal Liberals appear to be more focused on selective social democracy that is surreptitiously and purposefully eliminating the middle class and creating a class system consisting mainly of the poor, upper-middle class and wealthy with affordable housing out of reach for the poor.  The housing market has been set so wealthy pay much less for their housing than do singles and poor families. Wealthy usually pay less while getting much more.

“Discerning Functional and Absolute Zero” study by Alina Turner states that there has to be a political willingness to devote more resources to affordable housing and social services that address homelessness.

Myke Thomas, “Rising costs keeping millennials out of ownership” Calgary Sun, Homes Section, March 11, 2017 states that the boomers generation are very much into home ownership, sometimes owning two or three homes, while millennials are not shying away from homeownership, so much as financial barriers are making it difficult for them to own homes. (“Beyond the Bricks:  The meaning of home” study)…..The barriers facing millennials should be huge red flags flying in the faces of every level of government.  Housing is a major component of the Canadian Economy and a reduction in homeownership will have an adverse effect across other sectors of the economy.  It’s time governments stopped thinking of homeowners as ATM machines, as well as reassess excessive land development restrictions, punitive mortgage rules and regulations, land transfer taxes and other taxes which are contributing to a disturbing rise in the cost of homes.

(This blog is of a general nature about financial discrimination of individuals/singles.  It is not intended to provide personal or financial advice.)

AFFORDABLE HOUSING FOR VULNERABLE POPULATIONS, SINGLES AND THE POOR

AFFORDABLE HOUSING FOR VULNERABLE POPULATIONS, SINGLES AND THE POOR

(These thoughts are purely the blunt, no nonsense personal opinions of the author about financial fairness and discrimination and are not intended to provide personal or financial advice.)

The following discussion (about 15 pages in length) on affordable housing was submitted in response to a request for input to a national survey on affordable housing. The link for ‘Let’s Talk Housing’ survey is included at the end of this post.

It appears that some of points from this discussion were included in the final results of the survey such as

  • Including singles in definition of family by using specific wording of “individuals and families” not just “families”
  • Including affordable housing as a human rights issue
  • Including quality of life such as laundry facilities.

Issues that appear to not having been addressed are single seniors having own bedroom and bathroom that doesn’t cost more for them than for married or coupled seniors.

There still seems to be a mentality for seniors to age in place even with expensive houses that they can’t afford (tax credits on home renovations and assistance in paying house taxes).  Those with considerable net worth and assets should be excluded from housing subsidies of any kind.

NATIONAL AFFORDABLE HOUSING STRATEGY

TO: National Housing Strategy Team, Canadian Mortgage and Housing Corp., 700 Montreal Road, Ottawa, ON K1A 0P7

To Whom It May Concern:

First of all, thank you for the opportunity to respond to your housing strategy.  In this response, two categories that have been identified will be addressed – Affordable Housing and Vulnerable populations.

CATEGORY – AFFORDABLE HOUSING

Blog “financial fairness for singles.ca” talks about affordable housing.  One of the reasons for unaffordable housing is what author calls UPSIDE DOWN HOUSING. Excerpt from blog is as follows:

UPSIDE DOWN HOUSING

Why does it seem more difficult for individuals/singles and low income persons to purchase affordable housing?  For possible reasons why, consider the following scenarios.

One example, condos presently being developed in Calgary by a developer in one housing complex includes 1 bed, 1 bath, 1 patio micro-condos of 552 sq. ft. with starting price of $299,900.  Two patio, 2 bed, 2 full bath, 2 story 1232 sq. ft. condos were already sold out so price not available.  Then there are 2 patio, 3 bed, 2.5 bath, 2 and 3 story 1830 sq. ft. condos priced from $649,900 to $749,900.  Apparently, ultra-deluxe model has master bedroom suite covering entire third 600 sq. ft. floor.  The third floor bedroom is bigger than total square footage of $299,900 condo.  When price per square foot is calculated, micro-condo is selling for $543 per sq. ft. while three bed condos are selling from $355 to $409 per sq. ft.

So who is more likely to buy micro-condos?  Possibly low income couples, single parent with one child, or environmentally conscious, and probably an individual/single person.  Who gets to pay $150 to $200 more per square foot for two-thirds less space?  Ripple effects are owners of micro-condos have to proportionately pay more house taxes, education taxes, mortgage interest and real estate fees on less house and less take home pay for biggest lifetime expense.  When it is sold, will seller recoup buying price?

While singles are living in their small spaces (average size of new studio, one bed and one bed/den new condo combined being built in Toronto is 697 sq. feet), majority of Canadian married/coupled people families are living in average 1950 sq. foot houses (2010) with large gourmet kitchens, multiple bathrooms, bedrooms for each child and guests, basement, garage, yard, and nice patio with barbecue, etc.

To further magnify the issue, lottery in major northern Alberta city has first grand lottery prize of $2,092,000 for 6,490 sq. ft. house ($322 per sq. ft.), second grand prize of $1,636,000 for 5,103 sq. ft. house ($321 per sq. ft.), and third grand prize of $1,558,000 for 5,097 sq. ft. house ($306 per sq. ft.).  First house has elevator, games/theatre area, kid’s lounge, gym, and music room. Second house has hockey arena with bleacher seating, lounge and bar.  Third house has spa, gym, yoga studio, juice bar and media room.  The wealthy get all the extras and pay only $306 per square foot.  This is upside down housing.  Need anything more be said about the wealthy? They usually get more while paying less and acquiring choicest spots.  (Another example is penthouse suites that sell for proportionately less dollars per square foot than a small condo unit on lower floors of a building).

Average square footage of Canadian house is 1950 sq. ft. (2010) so how can a developer socially, morally and ethically justify charging $150 to $200 more per square foot for two-thirds less space?  “CREB now”, Aug. 28 to Sept. 3, 2015, page A5, talks about Calgary developer selling 440 sq. ft. condos in north inner city tower for $149,000 ($339 per sq. ft.) in 2012 and 440 sq. ft. condos in south inner city tower for $219,000 ($498 per sq. ft.) in 2015.  Two and three hundred sq. ft. condos are now being sold in Vancouver and Toronto for around $250,000 ($1250 and $833 per sq. ft. respectively).  In many cases salaries for low income and singles has not risen to same level, nor has Canadian housing prices for the middle class and rich ($400,000 and up).

How is any of this different than loan-sharking or pay day loans where targeting of the most vulnerable occurs?  Does no one see a pattern here where the wealthy pay $300 to $400 per square foot, but singles and poor families are forced to live in smaller spaces while paying more per square foot for them?

Further financial unfairness occurs when individual/single homeowners without children are forced to pay education taxes, but parents pay only fixed rate based on value of their home regardless of number of children.  For ‘nineteen kids and counting’ it is possible parents are only paying a few cents a day for their children’s education.  Some married/partnered seniors with kids are looking to have education tax payments eliminated from their house taxes.  For families with children, logic implies parents should pay education tax throughout their entire lifetimes, or individuals/singles without kids should not have to pay education tax ever.  However, families don’t seem to be able to apply financial logic of their own finances equally to the financial realities of their single children.  And, many families do not want to pay school fees.

There are many more examples of financial unfairness, but just the above few show how financial world for low-income families and individuals/singles has been completely flipped upside down and topsy-turvy.  Have governments, society, and our publicly and privately funded education systems failed us so miserably and family/corporate greed taken over with critical thinking, social/ethical responsible thinking sinking to all-time lows?  Since when is it okay under present financial system for families to accumulate wealth and huge inheritances while their low income and single children are not able to support themselves on a day to day basis?

Young individuals/singles not yet married are facing huge financial hurdles because of low incomes, less full time jobs, enormous education debt, and out of control housing costs.  Families (parents), governments, society, corporations, businesses to date have failed to provide support and responsibility that is needed to ensure all Canadian citizens are able to financially take care of themselves without financial parental aid, inheritances of parents and without bias of gender, race or marital status.

In this so called civilized, enlightened country of ours, it appears that citizens of value are only upper middle-income families and the wealthy while individuals/singles with and without children are being annihilated from financial, political, and everyday living scenes (MADE INVISIBLE). If families have such high family values, shouldn’t family values and moral social values take precedence instead of being trumped by almighty dollar greed and philosophy of charging what the market can bear and more?

Low income families, individuals/singles and young adults not yet married who can apply simple math and critical thinking skills are in financial despair and angst knowing that they, as the most vulnerable citizens of this country, have been targeted and pawned to pay more for housing than middle class families and the wealthy.  It is the duty of politicians elected by the people, for the people to represent all Canadian citizens, not just vote getting middle class families.

OUTSIDE THE BOX SOLUTIONS FOR PRICING OF AFFORDABLE HOUSING

Solution 1 – for a housing complex as identified in the above outrageous pricing example, prices should be set where the base price of the unit with the smallest square footage cannot be more than the base price of the unit with largest square footage within the complex. Any changes and upgrades by the buyer would be added to the base price. (In the above example the base price of the 552 square foot condo could only be $355 per square foot to match the cheapest price of the biggest per square foot unit in the complex).  Should there be laws and fines applied for these outrageous prices?

Solution 2 – Charges for house taxes, education taxes, and real estate fees should be balanced between square footage and price of the housing unit?  Where housing prices follow a fair pricing formula as shown in Solution 1, this could provide financial fairness where fees are based on largest unit and become proportionately less on smaller units.

Solution 3– charge a fee such as a carbon tax fee for units greater than a certain number of square feet. For example, allow a maximum size of 2500 square ft. for a housing unit (assumption is that there is no need for excessive amounts of square footage in housing). For anything greater than 2500 square feet, charge an extra fee to the buyer with an incremental increase in the fee for every additional 500 square feet of space. (The wealthy have been paying less and getting more square footage while using non-renewable resources plus water at an alarming rate, i.e. 5000 square foot log cabin using twelve logging trucks filled with harvested logs and a showhome that has seventeen sinks). The monies collected from these fees could be used to build more affordable housing.

As stated in a recent real estate article, Watermark, a deluxe complex in Calgary is selling an ‘inspired’ (so stated in article) 8,644 sq. ft. estate home and its guest house for $3.45 million or $399 per square foot which is less per square feet than 600 square foot condo mentioned above. Article goes on to say that beyond homes, Watermark garners interest with both natural and manmade beauty. It has 17 cascading ponds and more than five kilometers of interconnected walking and bike trails. Then there’s the central plaza with its 1,000 sq. ft. pavilion, kitchen, barbecues, a sports field and NBA-sized basketball court. One family’s daughter is looking forward to booking the plaza and using the outdoor kitchen for her birthday party. The family goes on to state that space between homes and low density was also very important so they weren’t looking into someone’s back yard. This same complex has a show home with 17 sinks.

Another real estate article talks about another family with three children moving from 1900 sq. ft. house to a 2,837 sq. ft. house with price starting from $900,000s. They are moving because they need more room for the kids as they grow. Their new house will provide 567 sq. ft. per person at a starting price of approximately $317 per sq. ft. Yet again other articles state that owners are happy they don’t have condos in their backyard (NIMBYism) and their children can experience nature from their own bedrooms.

Further advice usually given by married people states singles can live with someone else if they can’t afford housing when they are already living in studio, one bedroom apartments, and basement suites. Senior singles who have lived productive lives while contributing to their country want and deserve their own privacy and bathroom. Many senior assisted living dwellings have in recent years built more spaces for singles who with one income pay more for that space than married/coupled persons. Just how long should shared arrangements go on for (entire lives?) instead of correcting underlying financial issues?

Following examples show dignity and respect for singles (and low income families). Attainable Housing http://www.attainyourhome.com/, Calgary, allows maximum household income of $90,000 for single and dual/parent families with dependent children living in the home and maximum household income of $80,000 for singles and couples without dependent children living in the home. Living Wage for Guelph and Wellington livingwagecanada allows singles dignity of one bedroom apartment and a living wage income that is 44% of a family of 4 income and 62% of a family of two (parent and child).

While singles are living in their small spaces (average size of new studio, one bed and one bed/den new condo combined being built in Toronto is 697 sq. feet), majority of Canadian married/coupled people and families are living in average 1950 sq. foot houses (2010) with large gourmet kitchens, multiple bathrooms, bedrooms for each child and guests, basement, garage, yard, and nice patio with barbecue, etc.

Above mentioned blog has also tried to attach lost dollars that singles face directly every date in relation to married and coupled family units with and without children.  The following lost dollar value is in relationship to housing.

LOST DOLLARS VALUE LIST

For a 700 square foot condo where price is $50 more per square foot than lowest price of largest condo in complex, it can be assumed that the purchaser will be paying $35,000 more than purchaser’s base price of largest condo, if the price per square foot is $100 more per square foot then purchaser will be paying be paying $70,000 more, if the price per square foot is $150 more per square foot then purchaser will be paying $105,000 more and so on. The amount of house and education taxes, real estate fees and mortgage interest will also incrementally increase.

Our Lost Dollar Value List in blog (lost-dollar-value) –  when lost dollar value for real estate is added to the list, $50 was  used as the example not including gestimate loss for taxes and real estate fees, interest charges based on $50.00 per sq. ft.

APPROPRIATE HOUSING DEFINITION

Singles are often told they can always go ‘live with someone’ if they have problems with affordable housing.  The CMHC should be aware of the following definition of appropriate housing.  Housing dignity and respect as well as quality of life according to this definition specifies that singles deserve a bedroom of their own.  (One bedroom actually meaning one bedroom, not just a murphy bed in a 200 square foot condo, shows dignity and respect for singles).  It is the belief of this author that appropriate housing for a senior single means senior singles deserve a bedroom and a bathroom of their own.  After working for forty years for their country without the marital manna benefits given to married or coupled family units, senior singles deserve at least this much.

Appropriate Housing definition is stated as follows – Under the Social Housing Accommodation Regulation (alberta page 11), such housing is considered overcrowded if more than two people must share a bedroom, with at least one individual in each of the other bedrooms, and if an individual over 18 “must share a bedroom with another member of the household,” or someone over the age of five has to share a bedroom with “an individual of the opposite sex.”  (Spouses or partners sharing a bedroom don’t count)…..”Affordable housing is intended to be appropriate housing-appropriate to needs of families.   If children age in place or additional children are welcomed into a family, they can transfer within the system…subject to availability.”  

Blog “financialfairnessforsingles.ca”also addresses psychological impact where appropriate.  The following discusses the psychological impact for housing.

PSYCHOLOGICAL IMPACT

There seems to be very little understanding of the psychological impact that decision makers and policy makers have on singles regarding housing.

Many families live in houses where their young children have separate bedrooms, and likewise, there is a trend towards ‘man caves’ and ‘she sheds’ so family members can have ‘alone’ time, but when children become single adults, singles are consistently told that they can live with someone if they have financial problems with housing while paying more.

And, of course, singles never have claustrophobia, so it is okay to stick them in small spaces for which they have to pay more. And singles never have problems with noise, so it is okay for them to live in small units in less desirable areas close to airports and railway tracks, etc. (As one single person moving from one unit to another stated in a real estate article “I was very impressed with the pricing and the fact that they’re doing concrete floors and walls “. Concrete is said to restrict noise. “I work on Saturday mornings and a lot of people like to stay up a little later on Friday and Saturday nights”. With thinner walls, he adds, it is easier to hear “people in the hallways coming and going. It is not the end of the end of the world, by any means, but I am looking forward to something quieter above and below”. But for this person, the decision was less about sound and more about getting something larger, with better specifications and closer to work-moving from 615 sq. ft. two bedroom condo to 715 sq. ft. two bedroom condo. “The bedrooms are a little bit bigger with an ensuite. I really liked that and I liked the fact that it has a washer and dryer so I don’t have to go to the laundromat.”

Singles deserve same standard of living as married/coupled persons, i.e. having washer and dryer in their own home instead of having to go down a dark hall or to basement in complex to do laundry or paying outrageous prices per load at a laundromat.

When reading or listening to articles on housing for families, families will always talk about how important their housing is for them in regards to creating memories for their children, entertaining and maintaining close ties to friends and families, but apparently adult singles don’t have friends and families or dreams, so it is okay for them to live in micro condos, some as small as 200 square feet, where it is pretty much impossible to entertain or have friends and families stay with them except maybe by having a bunk bed chained from the ceiling.

SOLUTION

Singles and low income persons need to become more aware of financial unfairness by taking pricing down to the lowest common denominator, i.e. price per square foot and speak out about the financial atrocities being directed towards them. They need to start questioning why they are being targeted to pay more while getting less.  (While it is recognized that it is expensive to raise children, adult to adult it is also unfair to make one segment of the population like singles and the disadvantaged pay more than another segment).

By your own definition in ‘Let’s Talk Housing”, you state  -” Zoning by-laws that encourage affordable, mixed-income and mixed-tenure communities are one way to ensure the inclusion of all Canadians in a variety of social, economic and cultural opportunities”.  So how about putting ‘money where your mouth is’ and eliminating financial housing discrimination for singles and the poor that is upside-down and by truly making the wealthy pay their fair share?

 CATEGORY- VULNERABLE POPULATIONS

SINGLES/INDIVIDUALS ARE RARELY  INCLUDED IN FINANCIAL DISCUSSIONS AND FORMULAS

By your own definition in ‘Let’s Talk Housing”, you state vulnerable populations include seniors, persons with disabilities, victims of domestic violence, newcomers, homeless, lone parent families, indigenous households, youth, veterans.

Why are singles never included today in financial discussions and formulas?  Families are only mentioned.  What this means is that singles are discriminated against by virtue of exclusion and invisibility.  As stated by your definition in sentence above, singles are not included except if they fall into categories of disabilities, homeless, or youth.  Into which of these populations do singles between the ages of 25 and 65 fall?  Your own definition of vulnerable populations does not include them.

SINGLES ARE INAPPROPRIATELY CLASSIFIED

Singles are inappropriately classified when the ‘catch-all’ word ‘singles’ is used to include single parents, widowers, ever singles (never married, no kids), early in life divorced and late in life divorced singles all in one word.  Canada Revenue Agency has clear definitions for singles and widowed persons.  Yet, financial planners, government agencies, businesses often consider widowed people to be singles when they are not.   Single parents do get some government transfer benefits, which is as it should be.  Widowed persons are given benefits, while ever singes are rarely given any benefits except in abject poverty.  Widowed persons are more likely to own their own homes and have more net worth than ever singles.  Early in life divorced persons are less likely to be able to accumulate net worth and wealth than late in life divorced persons.

Blog article “False assumptions – ‘Four Ways Senior Singles Lose Out’ – December 2, 2015” is  a perfect example of how a financial analyst has inappropriately talked about singles in his article when he is actually talking about widowed persons.  Widowed persons are often perceived to have more social value  simply because they were married and have produced children in comparison never married singles and early in life divorced singles without and without children.  This discrimination often leads to never married and early divorced in life singles being left out of financial decisions because they have been made to be invisible.

FINANCIAL ILLITERACY AND IRRESPONSIBLE CONCLUSIONS OF DECISION MAKERS IN HOUSING SOLUTION

Who Really Owns Homes

In your information, you say 69% of Canadians own their own homes, but what you don’t say is the majority of home ownership is by married or coupled family units.  The sad reality is that singles are less likely to own their own homes because they simply can’t afford it.  You say that seniors are a part of the vulnerable population.  In reality, senior singles (not widowed persons and married or coupled persons) are more likely to be part of the vulnerable population.

According to Statistics Canada 2011 articles “Living Arrangements of Seniors” and “Homeownership and Shelter Costs in Canada” (12.statcan) and (12.statcan.gc) ‘approximately 56.4 per cent of the senior population (5 million total seniors in 2011) live as part of a couple and about 24.6 per cent of the senior population live alone (excludes those living with someone else, in senior citizen facilities and collective housing).

Approximately 69 per cent of Canadians own their own home.  About  four out of five (82.4%) married/coupled people own their own home, while less than half (48.5%) of non-family households (singles) own their dwellings.  Just over half (55.6%) of lone-parent households own their dwelling. “  (It stands to reason that more senior married/coupled and widowed persons will own their own homes, while senior singles–‘ever’ single and early divorced–are more likely to have to rent placing them in greater income inequality and a lower standard of living and quality of life).  Regardless of housing tenure, the proportion of non-family households and lone-parent households that paid 30% or more of total income towards shelter costs was about twice the proportion of the couple-family households’.

We are going to repeat this statement again:  Regardless of housing tenure, the proportion of non-family households and lone-parent households that paid 30% or more of total income towards shelter costs was about twice the proportion of the couple-family households’.   This very statement reinforces the fact that singles need to be included in the definition of vulnerable populations.

Singles are constantly told to ‘go live with someone’ when they have difficulties paying for housing; meanwhile married/coupled and widowed persons may be living in their big houses (enjoying the same lifestyle they had before pre-retirement) and seeking help with paying their taxes while refusing to move to a less expensive dwelling when they have financial difficulties.

Seniors who own their homes want to remain in their homes as long as possible versus renters

You state in your information that seniors want to remain in their homes as long as possible.  You also state renters, on the other hand, can benefit from lower monthly costs and more flexibility when they want to move.

Several comments – there are many seniors who have huge net worth in their homes, can’t afford to live in them, and yet want to remain in them.  They have such a sense of entitlement that they are seeking help with paying house taxes, and now politicians are looking to give them financial help with upgrading their homes.  The above statements show no regard for the psychological impact of renting for singles and the poor.  Just how long do you think renters should stay in one place – ten, twenty, thirty years- for example, as seniors without renovations and upgrades taking place in their rental units?  The likely answer that you and everyone else will give to this is that they can always move.  Moving in psychological impact is stressful, plus moving is expensive (your statement regarding ‘flexibility to move for renters’ is a negative, not a positive).

Families don’t take their own advice which they dish out to singles.  Senior couples or widowed don’t want to give up their big houses, but ask for reduced house taxes and senior education property tax assistance programs (Calgary Herald, “Not Now” letter to the editor, August 26, 2015).  If you can’t pay your house taxes, how about moving to smaller place or go live with someone (tit for tat)?  If families with kids don’t pay education property taxes as seniors, then homeowners who have never had kids should not have to pay education taxes throughout their entire lives.

Financial analysts and decision makers have in their end points created such a sense of entitlement and greed that many believe home equity should not be treated as an asset and, even more ludicrous, as a retirement asset.

Blog post ‘Continued Financial Illiteracy and Creation of Financial Silos Benefitting Married/Coupled Persons Equals Financial Discrimination of Senior Singles-Part 2 of 2’ (part-2-of-2) is author’s response to one such article:  February, 2016 the Broadbent Institute in Canada and Richard Shillington of Tristat Resources published the report:  “An Analysis of the Economic Circumstances of Canadian Seniors” (broadbentinstitute)

Quote from report :  ‘ …..Many of those who argue that there is no looming pension crisis have included home equity as a liquid asset.  This analysis has not treated home equity as a retirement asset because the replacement rate analysis has as its objective an income that allows one to enjoy a lifestyle comparable to that which existed pre-retirement.  We do not include home equity here because we accept that the pre-retirement lifestyle for many middle- and moderate-income Canadians include continued homeownership”, (Page 19)’.

(blog author’s response to this statement) ‘It is ludicrous that this report does not treat home equity as a retirement asset.  Those who have to rent are at a much greater financial disadvantage than those who own their own home’.

Singles with mortgage or rent face serious financial obstacles regardless of what age they are.  Young are facing outrageous housing and mortgage costs.  Senior singles who have to rent face serious quality of life issues when their rent is beyond what  they can afford.  Also, financial analysts state that most singles cannot have a mortgage and save at the same time, they only can do one or the other.

What some politicians’  and other responses have been so far

Blog author has been blogging about financial discrimination of singles for almost a year and has been attempting to contact government and politicians regarding this issue.  Here are a couple of absurd responses received so far (none have been positive).

One politician said that if singles are having problems with affordable housing, they can seek assistance.   Community Housing in Alberta is a subsidized rental program, but to qualify assets and belongings cannot exceed $7,000.  Really, $7,000? (Assets in pension funds, registered retirement savings plans, or registered retirement income funds are not included in calculation of assets.  So this means, subsidized housing can be given to those with considerable assets).   Another answer stated that maybe charitable and social agencies need to include singles in assistance that is already provided to low income persons and single parent families.  Really?  This is another slap in face answer that does nothing to solve the affordability housing problem for singles.

Singles continually get told by married or coupled persons that singles can go live with someone if they have problems with being able to afford housing.  At a session on affordable and inclusive housing, blog author was told as much by one gentleman from around Springbank (one of most expensive areas to live in Canada) who was so proud that he was able to winter every year in Arizona.

When reading or listening to articles on housing for families, families will always talk about how important their housing is for them in regards to entertaining and maintaining close ties to friends and families.  They talk about about how their ‘hearts are eternally and inexplicably changed’ when bearing their children, but same hearts appear to become ‘hearts of stone’ when these same children become adult singles, low income or no income persons and families.

It often appears that desired results have been achieved for what married/coupled persons and families think are appropriate for singles.  Singles can now sleep in spaces that are two hundred square feet in size.  It seems these same people no longer consider singles to be their children or part of the family.  Instead, the state of business has overtaken the value of family to the point of unadulterated greed.

Singles deserve better in affordable housing solutions.  When they talk to government, decision makers and families about lack of affordable housing, they are met with anger, shunning and deaf ears.  They are given the response that it is ‘what the market can bear’.

Every adult with marital status of being single deserves a living wage and a dignified place to live that is equal to adults in families.  Every adult with marital status of being single deserves to be included in financial formulas that are equal in benefits to adults in families.  Every adult with marital status of being single children of families deserves to treated with same financial dignity and respect as married/coupled children in same family.

Single employables (singles and single parents) deserve the same financial dignity and respect as married/coupled persons with and without children.  Singles and single parents (white, aboriginal and of immigrant status) deserve to be included in financial formulas at the same level as married or coupled persons with and without children.

Financial discrimination of singles is accepted in mainstream and is, indeed, celebrated.  Article like “It Pays To Be Married” (marrying-for-money-pays-off) implies married/coupled persons and families are more financially responsible.  From “Ten Events in Personal Financial Decathlon Success” (financialpost), the Family Status step says: ‘From a financial perspective, best scenario is a marriage for life.  It provide stability for planning, full opportunities for tax planning and income splitting and ideally for sharing responsibilities that can enhance each other’s goals and careers.  One or two divorces can cause significant financial damage.  Being single also minimizes some of the tax and pension advantages that couples benefit from’.  How nice!

CONCLUSION

  1.  It is morally, ethically and socially reprehensible and irresponsible when government, businesses and families don’t recognize singles and continue to violate one of the basic principles of Maslow’s Hierarchy of Need, that is shelter.
  2. It is morally, ethically and socially reprehensible and irresponsible when government, businesses and families don’t recognize singles and continue to violate what has been deemed by international organizations to be a violation of the Human Rights of all Canadian Citizens, that is housing.

(From Wikipedia) “The right to housing is recognised in a number of international human rights instruments. Article 25 of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights recognises the right to housing as part of the right to an adequate standard of living. It states that:

Everyone has the right to a standard of living adequate for the health and well-being of himself and of his family, including food, clothing, housing and medical care and necessary social services, and the right to security in the event of unemployment, sickness, disability, widowhood, old age or other lack of livelihood in circumstances beyond his control.

Article 11(1) of the International Covenant on Economic, Social and Cultural Rights (ICESCR) also guarantees the right to housing as part of the right to an adequate standard of living.

In international human rights law the right to housing is regarded as a freestanding right. This was clarified in the 1991 General Comment no 4 on Adequate Housing by the UN Committee on Economic, Social and Cultural Rights. The general comment provides an authoritative interpretation of the right to housing in legal terms under international law.”

OTHER CONSIDERATIONS

  1. It is morally, ethically and socially reprehensible and irresponsible when government, businesses and families continue to be uneducated (illiterate)and completely unaware of what it costs singles to live in comparison to families in relation to equivalence scales.  
  2. It is morally, ethically and socially reprehensible and irresponsible when government, businesses and families discriminate based on marital status.  Discrimination based on marital status is a also a violation of human and civil rights.
  3. It is morally, ethically and socially reprehensible and irresponsible when government, businesses and families continue to exclude singles from financial formulas and housing solutions.  Singles need to be included in all financial formulas.
  4. Equivalence scales (equivalence-scales-in-relation-to-cost-of-living) – if there anything that is can be so eye-opening in describing how financially disadvantaged singles are in comparison to families for cost of living, it is equivalence scales.  Member of National Housing Survey need to educate themselves in this regard.
  5. Real estate fees have reached an outrageous level of unaffordability.  These fees, in addition to outrageous housing prices, need to be addressed.

In present political system, singles are losing financial ground.   Words ‘individuals’ or  ‘singles’ rarely come to the financial lips of politicians, families or media.   What is needed is to bring financial issues of singles to same financial table as families and to make positive changes for both parties.  Singles who have worked for forty years, never used EI and helped to support families through wedding and baby gifts, education taxes and other taxes so that families can have maternity and parental benefits, child benefits, widow and survivor benefits, etc. deserve same financial respect as families.  Singles never get any thanks and are never recognized for their contributions.  The only benefits singles ever receive is if they are in abject poverty.  Singles are not asking for more financial benefits than families, but equivalency to family benefits as applicable as shown in equivalence scales.  They deserve this as citizens of this country.

Quite frankly, with all the rhetoric, surveys, solutions and bafflegab, this author is very pessimistic and believes CMHC and others involved in this project are going to fail, and will fail miserably.  Unaffordable housing will not be resolved UNLESS THE MINIMUM WAGE IS RAISED TO A LIVING WAGE AND TO A LIVING WAGE THAT IS INDEXED TO INFLATION.  Success will only be achieved if innovative solutions AND a living wage occur simultaneously.   Everything that occurred in the last decade by government, businesses, and families in regards to financial solutions has benefitted only the upper middle class families, not singles and the poor.  (Blog post on CPP enhancements, August 31, 2016 further supports how lack of minimum wage and schizophrenic programs further discriminate against singles and the poor-CPP a federal program while minimum wage is a provincial program).

List of some of the blog posts regarding housing and financial discrimination of singles and the poor:

  1. False assumptions – ‘Four Ways Senior Singles Lose Out’  (false-assumptions)- December 2, 2015 -describes how one financial analyst shows singles lose out on married or coupled family unit tax advantages, lose out on tax and pension systems tilted to benefit couples, lose out on benefits, face higher tax bill, and face OAS recovery tax.  The sad fact is that this financial analyst was talking about widowed persons, not ever singles.
  2. Senior Singles pay more – Parts 1 to 4 – December 5 (senior-singles), Dec. 9 (part-2), Dec. 12 (part-3), and Dec. 22, 2015 (part-4), – show the many ways that senior singles pay more and get less over their married or coupled family unit counterparts.
  3. To rent or own affordable housing – that is the question January 10, 2016 (to-rent-or-own-affordable-housing)
  4. Continued Financial illiteracy of financial gurus equals financial discrimination of singles – Part 2  February 28, 2016 (financial-illiteracy) – blog author’s perspective on yet another financial analyst (Broadbent Institute) providing incomplete facts about what it costs singles to live, inappropriate classification of singles, and not including home equity as a retirement asset.
  5. Incomplete reporting of news and media articles promote financial inequality of singles to married/coupled persons March 24, 2016 (financial-inequality-of-singles-to-marriedcoupled-persons– inability to say the word ‘single’ or ‘individual’ promotes financial discrimination of singles.
  6. Lost dollar value list to date – April 10, 2016 lost-dollar-value-list) (attached table – please see article for full description of items) lost dollar value table
  7. Singles deserve affordable housing and financial fairness for singles April 13, 2016 (singles-deserve-affordable-housing)– talks about a San Francisco single person who created a private sleeping space in the living room of an apartment he shares with other roommates (one bedroom apartments rent for $3,670 a month).  He sleeps in a wooden box (he calls it a ‘pod’) that is eight feet long,  four and a half feet tall and probably about five or six feet wide)
  8. Rental or affordable housing – misconceptions about psychological impact on singles April 20, 2016 (affordable)
  9. Real financial lives of singles April 24, 2016 (real-financial-lives-of-singles-and-financial-discrimination-of-singles) –  shows financial profiles of three married or coupled family units and three ‘singles’ from various backgrounds
  10. Homelessness in Canada bigger problem for singles and poor single parent families May 23, 2016 (homelessness-in-canada-bigger-problem– study on single employables comprised of singles and single parents and how they are having a very difficult time surviving on low wages and lack of affordable housing
  11. Affordable housing not party of Conservative Party definition July 17, 2016 (affordable-housing-not-part-of-conservative-party-definitionappropriate housing definition and how Conservative party after 40 year reign in Alberta contributed very little to affordable housing during the oil boom)
  12. Improper definition of single status promotes financial discrimination August 7, 2016 (improper-definition-of-single-status-promotes-financial-discrimination)
  13. Equivalence scales August 17, 2016 (equivalence-scales-in-relation-to-cost-of-living see article for further description of scales and application in Canada)equivalence scales
  14. History of family tax credits over decades are financially discriminating to singles Part 2 of 2 August 23, 2016 (history-of-family-tax-credits-over-decades table – see article for full description)

family tax benefits over lifetime

The above table shows benefits available to a married or coupled family units with children from time they are able to use maternal and parental benefits to time of death of one spouse (yellow, blue and green fill in).  Single parents only have benefits related to their children (orange fill in).  Married or coupled family units without children have all the benefits related to having a spouse or partner (navy fill in).  Ever singles and early divorced singles have none of the benefits available to married or coupled family units (fill in is blank because they have none of the benefits of spouse #2.  In addition, they are often are unable to max out RRSP and TFSA contributions).  (While late in life divorced singles have none of the benefits for spouse #2, they may have been able to accumulate more net worth and assets while they had a spouse or partner).

15.  Boutique tax credits pushing singles into poverty Part 1 of 2 June 23, 2016 (boutique-tax-credits) and Part 2 of 2 July 3, 2016 (part-2-of-2) – shows how family tax credits given to families with high net worth (brought in by Liberal party this year) are financially discriminatory to singles and are actually pushing them into poverty

16.  Six Reasons Why Married/Coupled Persons are Able to Achieve More Financial Power (Wealth) than Singles (six-reasons – see article for further description – for marital manna benefits an example of a gourmet ice cream cone where married/coupled persons get additions of chocolate sauce and sprinkles, but singles only get the ice cream and cone)

“LETS TALK HOUSING” survey link (letstalkhousing)

(This blog is of a general nature about financial discrimination of individuals/singles.  It is not intended to provide personal or financial advice.)

WHO IS THE MIDDLE CLASS? AND FINANCIAL DISCRIMINATION OF SINGLES AND THE POOR

WHO IS THE MIDDLE CLASS? AND FINANCIAL DISCRIMINATION OF SINGLES AND THE POOR

(These thoughts are purely the blunt, no nonsense personal opinions of the author about financial fairness and discrimination and are not intended to provide personal or financial advice.)

There has been much discussion in the last few years about who the middle class is and whether the middle class is disappearing.

Certainly, if one looks back technology has improved the quality of life.  Some of us older folks, but not that old, remember housework like laundry that included heating water on the stove, wringer washers and drying clothes on the line.

Other changes over the decades include the following:

  • Families have become smaller so income goes further (due to socio-economic pressures)
  • Day care and  college/university education have become very expensive, but health care and grade 1-12 education are covered under government programs
  • Certain occupations face high operating costs (farm machinery and price of farmland)
  • Social issues and cyberspace has made child rearing more complex
  • Knowledge’ and automation revolutions have replaced certain higher wage jobs with low wage jobs (service)

The definition of the stereotypical ‘American Dream Family: ’they own their own home, have more than one car, can afford to send their children to college, have access to healthcare and benefits, and have spare time to vacation or simply have free time in general.

INCOMES AND NET WORTH OF THE CANADIAN MIDDLE CLASS

In Canada it would appear that the middle class primarily includes those earning between $40,000 and $80,000.  However, when the Canadian population is divided into unattached family units and family units of two or more persons, the income levels are quite different. According to Statistics Canada 2013 (statcan.gc.ca/daily) the median after tax income for unattached persons over 65 is $25,700, for unattached persons under 65 $29,800, and female lone parent families $39,400.  For two parent families with children the median after tax income is $85,000 and senior families $52,500.  (After-tax income is defined as the total of market income and government transfers, less income tax).

The median net worth according to Statistics Canada 2012 (statcan) is as follows: Unattached person under 65 $22,700, unattached person over 65 $246,000, senior families $650,000, non-senior families couples only $365,200, non-senior families with children under 18 $302,100, lone parent families $37,000 and other non-senior families $423,000.

The following information from MoneySense shows Stats. Can. 2011 income and net worth data divided into quintiles:

INCOME TABLE (MoneySense based on Stats. Can. 2011 macleans)

INCOME (PRE-TAX) – HOW DOES YOUR PAY STACK UP

Quintiles Unattached Individuals Families of Two or More
Bottom 20 % $0 to $18,717 $0 to $38,754
Lower-Middle 20% $18,718 to $23,356 $38,755 to $61,928
Middle 20% $23,357 to $36,859 $61,929 to $88,074
Upper-Middle 20% $36,860 to $55,498 $88,075 to $125,009
Highest 20% $55,499 and up $125,010 and up

NET WORTH TABLE

Quintiles Unattached Individuals Families of Two or More
Bottom 20 % Negative to $2,468 Negative to $67,970
Lower-Middle 20% $2,469 to $19,264 $67,971 to $263,656
Middle 20% $19,265 to $128,087 $263,657 to $589,686
Upper-Middle 20% $128,088 to $455,876 $589,687 to $1,139,488
Highest 20% $455,877 and over $1,139,489 and up

(Caveat:  It is difficult to determine if unattached individuals includes widowers who often have more net worth than ever singles, early in life divorced persons and single parents).

DEFINING MIDDLE CLASS IN CANADA

Defining middle class in Canada by Sanita Fejzic (middle-class) article gives an interesting perspective on the middle class.

‘There are two ways of looking at the middle class. The first is to focus all the attention on the baby boomers and define middle class based on their experience. While this is problematic, it also makes sense for two reasons: (1) baby boomers make up a large portion of Canada’s total population, so, in terms of simple number crunching, their experience results in a national average and (2) because baby boomers are the majority, their votes become valuable and therefore most of the political rhetoric on middle class inevitably revolves around their experience. The hiccup with this scenario is that middle class baby boomers are relatively financially wealthy.

The second way of seeing middle class acknowledges the situation from an intergenerational point of view.

“Data suggests it’s really important to be careful about using the language of the middle class squeeze,” adds Paul Kershaw, Interim Associate Director, Human Early Learning Partnership at the University of British Columbia and Founder of Generation Squeeze Campaign. “While this language is popular among some political parties, it hides the reality that the squeeze is much more of an age issue.”

As Kershaw points out, high housing prices explain why the median 55-64 year old today reports wealth that has nearly tripled compared to the same age group a generation ago. “That’s not a middle class squeeze,” says Kershaw. “That’s the middle of a demographic nearing retirement with more wealth than the country has ever seen.”

High home prices that were good for people who bought homes decades ago are crushing their kids and grandchildren’s dreams of home ownership. “Gens X and Y pay housing prices that have nearly doubled after adjusting for the CPI, with wages that are down $3/hour, even though they are more than twice as likely to have post secondary [education] today compared to the past, and take jobs that are far less likely to pay generous pensions,” he explains. “In sum, the squeeze is primarily on younger generations.”

Political focus is on the baby boomer middle class.

As 93% of Canadians (see link) self-identify as middle class, all three political parties have high stakes when it comes to winning the hearts of middle class voters.

The middle class is the political battleground,” states  Leslie Pal, Professor of Public Policy and Administration and Director of the Centre on Governance and Public Management at the University of Carleton. “And it’s not about which parties benefit the middle class but how they are appealing to an older, greying middle class.”

In other words, the three parties are either completely ignoring the generational aspect of the problem or simply don’t understand it. Instead, their energy is going into securing the votes of middle class baby boomers.

According to Pal, there are two broad directions the three parties have taken to appeal to the baby boomer middle class. “One is what I call the jelly bean policy and the other is policy that tackles major problems,” he says.

In jelly bean policy, small offerings are made to baby boomer middle class voters because they’re already living relatively comfortably and have no sense of urgency.

Here we see the Conservatives’ tax breaks on sports equipment, bus passes and policy that unbundles cable packages and the NDP’s messages regarding high ATM fees. “They’re tiny policies,” says Pal. “Like giving jelly beans, it’s sweet and tasty, but it doesn’t fix the problem.”

The other direction solves larger problems, with a focus on reforming the pension system. Much has been done to this regard and there is much to do.

“The use of the term middle class [in the political arena] is rhetorical to some extent,” says Pal. “The Tories have crafted a package whose appeal is sharper [to the baby boomers.]” They’re tough on crime, focused on tax breaks and have strict immigration policy.

The Liberals’ middle class rhetoric is lighter on policing and immigration and focuses on minorities, making ends meet and affordable education, while the NDP is focusing on household debt and lowering credit card fees. The NDP has created a number of social support systems that have safeguarded the middle class, including Medicare. However, their focus has traditionally been about protecting main-street workers and minorities.

But none of the three parties are drafting policy that addresses the threat of a disappearing middle class in the future. As they get ready for the 2015 election — and with the help of sophisticated technology to micro-target various demographic groups — they’ll have to remember to tailor real policies aimed at the group that’s potentially got the most to lose, generation squeeze’. (End)

THE DISAPPEARING MIDDLE CLASS AND HOUSING

(disappearing-middle-class) An Excerpt from Joel Kotkin’s Forthcoming book The New Class Conflict

‘…..This process has been greeted with enthusiasm by financial hegemons, who have stepped in with billions to buy foreclosed homes and then rent them; in some states this has accounted for upwards of twenty percent of all new house purchases. Having undermined the housing market with their “innovations,” notably backing subprime and zero down loans, they now look to profit from the middle orders’ decline by getting them to pay the investment classes’ mortgages through rents.

Part of this shift has been exacerbated by the movement of large investment groups like Blackstone to buy up single family houses for rent, representing a kind of neo-feudalist landscape, where landlords replace owner occupiers, perhaps for the long-run.

The very idea of homeownership is widely ridiculed in the media as a bad investment and many journalists, both left and right, deride the investment in homes as misplaced, and suggest people invest their resources on Wall Street, which, of course, would be of great benefit to the plutocracy. One New York Times writer even suggested that people should buy housing like food, largely ignoring the societal benefits associated with homeownership on children and the stability of communities.  Traditional American notion of independence, permanency and identity with neighborhood are given short shrift in this approach.

This odd alliance between the Clerisy and Wall Street works directly against the interest of the middle and aspiring working class. After all, the house is the primary asset of the middle orders, who have far less in terms of stocks and other financial assets than the highly affluent. Having deemed high-density housing and renting superior, the confluence of Clerical ideals and Wall Street money has the effect on creating an ever greater, and perhaps long-lasting, gap between the investor class and the yeomanry’.  (End)

INCREASE OF SQUARE FOOTAGE IN HOUSING SINCE THE 40’S AND 50’S

“Why Canada’s houses are getting smaller”, Tristin Hopper, National Post, July 13, 2012 (shrinking-home)

‘From post-war bungalows to 1990s McMansions, the Canadian House has spent the last 60 years progressively ballooning into one of the largest domiciles in history….In 1947, to accommodate a wave of post-war home construction, houses were often no bigger than 1,000 square feet.  Then came powder rooms, family rooms, enclosed garages; by 1975 home sizes had jumped to 1,075 square feet.  But still, their children, the Baby Boomers, shared bedrooms and cope with the weekday morning ritual of waiting for a spot in the home’s only bathroom.

Crazed for elbow room, when the Boomers finally seized the reins of home ownership in the 1980s, all hell broke loose.  Wide hallways, gargantuan entrance halls, mud rooms.  By the turn of the millennium, Canadians lived in some of the world’s largest houses – and were filling them with some of the world’s smallest families….

But then, by 2007, the meteoric growth of Canadian houses began to a slow to a trickle…the average new home size had dropped to 1,900 square feet – well down from a mid-2000s peak of 2,300 square feet….over the years, lot sizes stayed pretty much the same, but builders added storeys, dug out basements and pushed the front steps to the sidewalk….Canada, too, is witnessing the slow death of walk-in closets, hobby rooms and even the once-ubiquitous living room…..

The Millennials, the generation born from 1983 onwards, enjoyed a childhood free of bunk beds or even shared bathrooms.  Growing up in plush mega homes undoubtedly helped them become, in the words of one author, ‘self-centered, needy, and entitled with unrealistic work expectations.  Oddly, it also spawned a group of people patently unimpressed with backyards and breakfast nooks….

Under current economic forecasts, Millennials are poised to spend their early adulthood decidedly less affluent than their parents.  They are also facing a housing market that has outpaced income growth for well over a decade….

Except, of course, in Alberta, in the land of $85,000 median wages and dirt-cheap housing lots, young families are still snapping up giant, single-family homes like it’s still 1985….Edmonton has more space per person than any major city in Canada….In Calgary, even the condos are 4,000 square foot ‘monsters’.’ (End)

WHAT DETERMINES HOW THE MIDDLE CLASS IS CREATED

Michael Lind, “Are We Still a Middle-Class Nation?” The Atlantic Monthly 293, no. 1 (January/February 2004) (issues).

Michael Lind goes so far as to claim “each of America’s successive middle classes has been artificially created by government-sponsored social engineering—a fact that is profoundly important for us to admit as we think about the future of middle-class America.” (End)

Andrew Coyne: “Forget the Liberal mythology, Canada’s middle class is not struggling” (middle)

This has always been implicit in Liberal rhetoric about “the one per cent,” but now it is policy. If the rich have been “taking” from the middle class, then the Liberals want you to know they will take it back: a cut of one-and-a-half percentage points in the lower-middle bracket, paid for by an increase of four percentage points in the top rate of tax. Fairness demands nothing less.

Seldom have the politics of “gimme that” been expressed quite so nakedly. It is one thing to redistribute from rich to poor, or from the broader society to those on its margins. But the beneficiaries in this case are not the poor, or even the median: as the NDP helpfully pointed out, the $44,701 threshold at which the Liberal tax cut would kick in would benefit only the top one-third of tax filers.” (End)

CONCLUSION

Wants have changed, it seems new homeowners all want hardwood floors and granite countertops and will pursue those dreams and accumulate high debt even with out of reach house prices.

Many wealthy Canadians (mainly married or coupled person family units)  think they are only middle class, but own their homes outright, have multiple properties, recreation vehicles, winter in Arizona or Florida, and have huge net worth and assets. Many also have multiple income sources from their net worth and assets in their senior years.  Many will buy properties with their increased wealth to rent out to those at the bottom of the wealth pile.  The rent charged is set at levels of greed to not only cover the mortgage and other costs, but also make 3 or 4% profit on their investments (affordable)

As stated above, 93% of Canadians believe they are in the middle class.  Yet MoneySense statistics presented above shows that 40% of Canadian families of two or more persons have incomes above $88,000 and have net worth and assets above $600,000.  THIS LAST STATEMENT BEARS REPEATING AGAIN.  Forty per cent of Canadian families have incredible wealth and yet think it is okay to lie to themselves and other Canadian singles and poor families about their wealth. They continue to spin these lies and this spin is perpetuated by government and politicians.

As has been shown in past blog posts, government and politicians have created upside side down and schizophrenic financial policies that benefit upper middle class families more than ‘middle of the road’ middle class families, singles and the poor (government-program).  Baby boomers and families because of their voting power are considered to be more financially important than other generational persons such as millennials.

What’s the point of hard work and common decency if the financial system is stacked against singles and the poor?  The values that have actually enriched the wealthy and upper middle class appear to be greed, over consumption, arrogance, dishonesty and telling lies upon lies upon lies about their wealth (especially with regards to affordable housing) .

‘Hard working’ phrase is used ad nauseum, but many middle class families  think they should not have to work til age 65 due to a sense of entitlement.

Even with having one of the highest standards of living in the world,  middle class Canadian families are still unhappy and want more and appear to have no qualms about financially discriminating against the lower middle class, singles and the poor.

(This blog is of a general nature about financial discrimination of individuals/singles.  It is not intended to provide personal or financial advice.)

CAUSE AND EFFECT OF FINANCIAL POLICIES PROMOTING FINANCIAL DISCRIMINATION OF SINGLES AND THE POOR

CAUSE AND EFFECT OF FINANCIAL POLICIES PROMOTING FINANCIAL DISCRIMINATION OF SINGLES AND THE POOR

(These thoughts are purely the blunt, no nonsense personal opinions of the author about financial fairness and discrimination and are not intended to provide personal or financial advice.)

This blog has attempted to describe some of the many government, politician, business and family financial policy decisions that lead to financial discrimination of singles and the poor.

The question that can be asked is:  “Is there a  cause and effect relationship to these decisions?”

From Wikipedia and other online sources (study) the definition of ‘cause and effect’ is follows: – Causality (also referred to as causation, or cause and effect) is the agency or efficacy that connects one process (the cause) with another process or state (the effect), where the first is understood to be partly responsible for the second, and the second is dependent on the first. In general, a process has many causes, which are said to be causal factors for it, and all lie in its past. An effect can in turn be a cause of many other effects.

A cause-effect relationship is a relationship in which one event (the cause) makes another event happen (the effect). One cause can have several effects. Cause-Effect Criteria – In order to establish a cause-effect relationship, three criteria must be met. The first criterion is that the cause has to occur before the effect. If the causes occurred before the effects, then the first criterion is met.  Second, whenever the cause happens, the effect must also occur.  Consequently, if the cause does not happen, then the effect must not take place. The strength of the cause also determines the strength of the effect when criterion two is met.  The final criterion is that there are no other factors that can explain the relationship between the cause and effect.

A cause is why something happens.  An effect is what happens.

While no scientific ‘cause and effect’ relationship (i.e. fishbone diagrams) has been applied in this blog, certainly many of the financial discriminatory effects of policy decisions (or causes) have been described.  Some of these effects are listed below.

Boutique tax credits

  • Every political party has introduced tax credits to give financial benefits to certain members of the population more than others. June 16/16 (credit)

Business policies

  • Financial decisions by businesses such as not wanting to have minimum wage increase and not wishing to pay proposed increase of CPP employer contributions continue to help disintegrate the financial well being of singles and the poor. Sept. 12/16 (canada-pension-plan)

CPP

  • Financial discrimination of the CPP plan.  Aug 31/16 (plan)

CPP enhancements

  • Financial discrimination of CPP enhancements includes higher income earners only paying 8 percent instead of 11 percent CPP contributions on earnings between $72,000 and $82,700. Sept 12/16 (canada-pension-plan)

Family tax credits

  • Marital manna and family tax credits given over the years have continually increased the financial discrimination of singles and the poor.  Many of these benefits have been implemented by the Federal Conservative government over the last decade and perpetuated by the Federal Liberal party since coming into power in 2015 as well as provincial parties.  Aug 2/16 (credits)

Housing Affordability

  • Just 1,048 new affordable housing units in Calgary have been built over the past 14 years; the need for affordable housing was great in 2002 and it remains so today (most of these years were under provincial forty year reign of the Conservative party). July 17/16 (housing)
  • Homelessness – Two thirds of shelter beds in Canada are filled by people who make relatively infrequent use of shelters and are more likely forced into shelters by economic conditions (due to structural factors, the state of housing and labour markets that destine the very poor to be unable to afford even minimum-quality housing)…attacking housing affordability from the other side, by reducing housing costs, would also be effective….vast majority of homeless shelter users are single. May 23, 2016 (homelessness) and July 17/16 (housing)

Housing Upside Down Pricing and Financing

  • Upside down pricing of housing where purchasers of smaller units pay more per square foot means they will proportionately pay more house taxes, education taxes, mortgage interest and real estate fees on less house and less take home pay. Nov. 19/15 (upside-down)

Income tax privileging for the middle class and the wealthy

  • Tax cuts on both federal and provincial levels have targeted the middle class and the wealthy while making poor pay same amount or more in taxes.
  • Alberta flat tax of 10 percent increased from 8 percent for low income. May 23/16 (homelessness
  • Federal tax by federal Liberal party decreased by 1.5% for those earning between $45,282 and $90,563. Aug. 23/16 (family)

Lost Dollar value

  • Lost dollar value list was created to show lost dollars experienced by singles because married or coupled persons are able to achieve more financial benefits.  Some of these include pension splitting, reward programs and Employment Insurance (EI). April 10/16 (value)

Marital manna benefits

  • 1% spousal lending rate, spousal RRSP, TFSAs times two with no cap on total amounts accumulated over years are all within legal limits of financial laws – Six Reasons….(six)

Marrying for money pays off

  • Study shows persons who marry and stay married accumulate nearly twice as much personal wealth as a person who is single or divorced.  Jan. 17/16 (pays)

Maternity and parental benefits

  • Studies have shown that middle class and wealthy families benefit more from maternity and parental benefits.  Many poor families cannot afford take full maternity and parental leave.  August 23/17 (family)

Minimum wage/living wage

  • Decisions and arguments to not increase minimum wage or implement living wage have a dramatic impact on financial well being of singles and the poor.  May 4/16 (discriminatory) and Sept. 12/16 (canada-pension-plan)

Net worth and assets

  • When net worth and assets are not included in family benefit formulas, benefits are often given to those who need these benefits less (middle class and the wealthy) than the poor who have less net worth and assets.  August 17/16 (assets)

OAS recovery tax (OAS clawback)

  • OAS clawback benefits wealthy couples and some widows the most.  OAS for couples only begins at net income of $145,618 ($72,809 per person) thus allowing them to receive full OAS of $13,760 as a couple.  Not many senior singles (except some widowed persons) who could ever hope to achieve a net income of $72,809. Aug. 29/16 (oas)

Pension splitting

  • Pension splitting benefits only wealthy married or coupled family units.  Singles don’t get to pension split. Jan. 31/16 (government) and May 4/16 (selective).

Reward programs, company perks, money benefit programs, and fee schedules benefit families the most

‘Selective’ social democracy

  • There has been much that is good about democratic socialism, but there also has been some negative outcomes .  One outcome is ‘selective’ democratic socialism where certain members of society receive more social benefits than others. May 4/16 (selective)

Senior singles pay more

  • Senior singles often ‘pay more, get less’ because they are not included equally in financial formulas.  Singles also help support widowed persons and survivor pension plans. Dec. 22/15 (senior) and June 2/16 (retirement)

Singles not included or improperly identified in family definition

  • Ever singles (never married, no kids) are often not properly identified in family definitions.  Widowed persons and single parents are not ever singles.  Widowed persons and single parents are afforded some benefits that ever singles do not receive.  Dec. 2/15 (false) and Aug. 7/16 (definition)

CONCLUSION

It is very clear from the many examples above that government, politician, business and family financial policy decisions are often made in isolation and in financial silo fashion.  Continuation of these practises without a clear path to proper evaluation of all ‘across the board’ financial formulas and their ‘cause and effect’ on each other will only lead to perverse financial privileging of the middle class and wealthy while continuing financial discrimination of ever singles, early in life divorced singles, single parents and the poor.

(This blog is of a general nature about financial discrimination of individuals/singles.  It is not intended to provide personal or financial advice.)

NET WORTH AND ASSETS CONTRIBUTE TO FINANCIAL DISCRIMINATION OF SINGLES-Part 2 of 2

NET WORTH AND ASSETS CONTRIBUTE TO FINANCIAL DISCRIMINATION OF SINGLESPart 2 of 2

(These thoughts are purely the blunt, no nonsense personal opinions of the author about financial fairness and discrimination and are not intended to provide personal or financial advice).

When politicians, government and the wealthy continue to perpetuate myths that net worth and assets are too difficult to calculate or should not or cannot be included in financial formulas, this continues to make it possible for the wealthy to maintain their wealth and impossible for singles and the poor to maintain or increase their financial well-being thus resulting in financial discrimination and poverty for these groups.

The following three examples show how inclusion or exclusion of net worth and assets perpetuates the myths proposed by financial analysts, politicians, government and the wealthy.

EXAMPLE #1

Affordable Housing (services)

One assistance program in Alberta is Community Housing which is a subsidized rental program. It provides housing to families and individuals who have a low or modest income. Program funding comes from the federal, provincial, and municipal governments.To qualify, applicants must be Canadian Citizens, independent landed immigrants, or government sponsored landed immigrants. Assets and belongings cannot exceed $7,000. Assets include, but are not limited to:

  • bank accounts
  • investments (excluding RRSPs)
  • equity in property
  • equity in a motor vehicle (assessed by reviewing the value in the most current Canadian Red Book)

EXAMPLE #2

Legal Aid Alberta (legalaid)

Financial Eligibility Guidelines – If income falls within the amounts listed below, person(s) may be eligible for legal representation and to have a lawyer appointed.  Representational services are not free. Repayment will be discussed if a lawyer is appointed.  Legal Aid’s Financial Eligibility Guidelines allow the following eligible monthly income for family size of 1 – $1,638, 2 – $2,027, 3 – $2,885, 4 – $3,120, 5 – $3,354 and 6+ – $3,587.

An example of this is an actual court case going on at the present time.  Legal Aid has refused to assist client’s claim of defence for an estimated $25,000 in legal fees.  Legal Aid says client still has a large amount of property ($500,000 mortgage free), $34,000 in savings, tax free savings account (TFSA), and GICs and mutual funds worth another $21,000, plus $570 a month in old-age security payments with monthly expenses of $1,660.  Legal Aid does not give coverage to individuals with assets in excess of $120,000.  Legal Aid states: “client would be left with well over a half a million dollars in assets even after payment of legal fees.”

EXAMPLE #3

Family Tax Credits (tax-credits)

June 11, 2016 Financial Post Personal Finance Plan “Farm Plan Risky for Couple with 4 kids” shows how plethora of tax credits works for this family, Ed 32 and Teresa 33, stay at home spouse have four children ages 5, 3, 1 and newborn.  Government employee Ed brings home $2,680 after monthly tax income.  Net worth is already $502,000 including $200,000 paid for house.  Non taxable Liberal Canada Child Benefit for four children will be $1,811 per month bringing income to $4,491 per month.  (From ages 6 to 17, Canada Child Benefit will be $1,478 per month).

LESSONS LEARNED

These three examples show how the inclusion or exclusion of net worth and assets benefit the wealthy and families more than singles and poor families.  In Example #1, to receive housing assistance only $7,000 is allowed in assets.  Really, that is it? Compare that to Example 3 where a family already having significant net worth will receive benefit upon benefit upon benefit in addition to Family Tax Credits.  In Example #2, this could be said to be a good case where financial fairness has prevailed.  This client has plenty of net worth and assets to pay for $25,000 legal defence.  When the Legal Aid income scales are analyzed, it is apparent they have at least used some form of equivalence scales (finances). Hallelujah, here is one example where a family unit of two is not assessed at a value times two of that of family unit of one!

CONCLUSION

This post is just another example of the blatant hypocrisy and upside-down finances that financial analysts, politicians and government, and families perpetuate by not including net worth and assets in all financial formulas across the board whether they are local, provincial or federal or of a service type such as Legal Aid.  The blatant financial discrimination of singles and the poor continues while the wealthy get to write their own ticket to wealth by paying less and increasing wealth.

(This blog is of a general nature about financial discrimination of individuals/singles.  It is not intended to provide personal or financial advice).

AFFORDABLE HOUSING NOT PART OF CONSERVATIVE PARTY DEFINITION

AFFORDABLE HOUSING NOT PART  OF CONSERVATIVE PARTY DEFINITION

(These thoughts are purely the blunt, no nonsense personal opinions of the author and are not intended to provide personal or financial advice).

Creb now(published by Calgary Real Estate Board) June 24 to June 30, 2016 states:

‘housing officials increasing rates of overcrowding or “underhousing”  in Calgary’s housing market….Resolve says about 3,500 Calgarians were considered homeless in a recent survey, with about 14,000 at risk for homelessness – and that doesn’t include people “couch-surfing”…we know fundamentally that number is up.  It’s hard to get a handle; people are one paycheque away (from homelessness) or aren’t in appropriate housing.’

 

Appropriate housing definition is interesting.

‘Under the Social Housing Accommodation Regulation, such housing is considered overcrowded if more than two people must share a bedroom, with at least one individual in each of the other bedrooms, and if an individual over 18 “must share a bedroom with another member of the household,” or someone over the age of five has to share a bedroom with “an individual of the opposite sex.”  (Spouses or partners sharing a bedroom don’t count)…..”Affordable housing is intended to be appropriate housing-appropriate to needs of families.   If children age in place or additional children are welcomed into a family, they can transfer within the system…subject to availability.”

“Calgary Herald”, June 29, 2016 ‘City takes aim at failing affordable housing plan” states:

‘just 1,048 new affordable housing units created in Calgary over the past 14 years, the need for affordable housing was great in 2002 and it remains so today.  Calgary has half the amount of affordable housing as the national average, and a total of zero affordable housing units have opened in the city in the past three years….the city wants to see 1,500 affordable housing units built in the next two years – more than the number built in the past fourteen years – and staff believe it’s a goal that’s possible given money pledged from the provincial and federal governments, both of which have recently signalled a renewed commitment to affordable housing. Housing a homeless person has been shown to save taxpayers $34,000  annually….Currently 88,000 Calgary households earning less than $60,000 are in need of affordable housing.’

ANALYSIS

Married or coupled family units tell singles to go live with someone if they are having financial problems.  According to the definition above of appropriate housing this means singles appropriately should not live in a one bedroom apartment with one person couch-surfing, but should live in at least a two bedroom apartment.  By the above definition married or coupled family units with no children can live in a one bedroom apartment.

Affordable housing units of 1,048 divided by 14 years equals only a total of about 74.9 affordable housing units having been developed annually in Calgary.  In fact, zero units were opened in the last three years.   Calgary has 1.23 million population as of 2015.  The number of affordable housing units for a city this size is pathetic.

Alberta has essentially been under Conservative government for many years.  Alberta had a Conservative party in leadership for 40 years until New Democratic Party won the election last year.  During the Conservative reign (particularly in the latter years) money was squandered in what were essentially boom years because of the oil boom.  Oil, government and business persons and families became wealthy because of Conservative policies which favoured the rich. The Conservatives always talked about the Alberta Advantage. Federally, the Conservative party was in leadership for ten years until the Liberals won the election this year.

Right wing Conservatives have done nothing to provide affordable housing for singles and poor families except to line their own pockets and the pockets of their voters.  Just what is the purpose of politicians and political parties if they don’t provide government by the people and for ALL the people? Singles and the poor are not considered to be part of the ‘people’ definition.  There never was an Alberta Advantage for singles and poor families, only for the rich and the middle class.

(This blog is of a general nature about financial discrimination of individuals/singles.  It is not intended to provide personal or financial advice).