The recent federal budget
CHBA has reacted to the latest budget put down by the federal government in a positive way.
Calling it a budget that supports stability in housing markets and sets out a strategic approach to investment in Canada’s economic competitiveness, CHBA President Ron Olson said: “This is a practical budget that sets the stage for future economic renewal, while delivering worthwhile measures today. We’re pleased that Minister Flaherty resisted calls to tighten amortization and down payment rules. This type of intervention would have prevented thousands of first-time buyers from pursuing their dream of homeownership.”
Skilled worker shortages
CHBA President Ron Olson also applauded plans for immigration reform and training for skilled jobs, noted in the federal budget. “We have urged the government to address the growing shortage of skilled people required to build and renovate homes. We’re pleased that the budget tackles this issue.”
Since then, CHBA – Alberta has joined with provincial businesses and organizations that form the Alberta Coalition for Action on Labour Shortages.
Recent announcements from federal Minister of Immigration Jason Kenney and Minister of Human Resources Diane Finley appear to indicate that the efforts of (this group) are working, says CHBA – Alberta CEO Jim Rivait. “Since CHBA - Alberta began participating in this group, the federal government made multiple announcements of changes regarding labour. Most recently, they introduced changes to the Temporary Foreign Worker Program that allows fast-tracking of some applications. This change aligns with ACALS’ goals.”
The provincial election
“It was certainly an interesting election,” says Jim Rivait, CEO of CHBA – Alberta. But the work has just begun.
“While the Tories have a significant majority, we have a different political landscape and there are 39 new MLAs now. Over the next six months, we will be focusing on developing relationships with the new MLAs and strengthening our relationship with those who have been re-elected.
“With so many new people, it will provide an opportunity for us to share our ideas with many taking a fresh look at the issues. As well, they will be anxious to learn and we can be a great help to them.
“There will be a more substantial Opposition, which we haven’t had to deal with in the past, and they will have an important role to play. We will be developing a respectful strategy to engage Opposition members without feeding into the politically-partisan debates. With the re-election of the Tories, the legislative agenda will be much the same and we will continue to advance our agenda. But with some new folks, I will be pushing government to re-visit the owner-builder exemption for mandatory new home warranty.
We will be focusing on strengthening partnerships with like-minded organizations. In the past week, I met with UDI Wood Buffalo, Canadian Institute for Plumbing and Heating and will be meeting with UDI Cold Lake next week. My intention is to open the door, so that we can work together on issues and not deliver inconsistent messages. We have joined the Alberta Urban Municipalities Association as an affiliate member and will use that as an opportunity to meet regularly and provide information on issues and resolutions impacting residential builders.
Radon levels in homes
Health Canada has published the results of the second and final year of its survey of radon levels in Canadian houses. The summary report is available here. The findings show that on average, 7% of houses have levels of radon above which Health Canada recommends action to reduce radon levels.
As previously advised, builders should inform their customers to test for radon, both in new houses and those undergoing renovation, particularly in those areas with a higher incidence of radon.
The Homeowner Protection Centre, a consumer advocacy group in Toronto, has recently released a report that contains a number of recommendations that would affect the industry if adopted. Check www.homeownerprotection.ca.