Premier Christy Clark ready to impose thermal coal levy

MERRITT— Today at NMV Lumber, Premier Christy Clark announced the measures she will take if necessary to stop the shipment of thermal coal through British Columbia.

“Ideally, the federal government will act on our request to ban thermal coal in our ports – but if they don’t, British Columbia will charge a carbon levy on it,” said Premier Clark. “By doing so, British Columbia will establish the world’s first greenhouse gas benchmark for thermal coal – and make it uncompetitive to ship through B.C. ports.”

Should the federal government not implement a thermal coal ban, a re-elected BC Liberal government will develop regulations under the Greenhouse Gas Industrial Reporting and Control Act to ensure all thermal coal shipped to B.C. terminals is subject to a carbon price – approximately $70 per tonne – that reflects the greenhouse gas emissions caused by the extraction, processing, transportation and combustion of thermal coal through a BC terminal.

“I am hopeful that our federal partners will act on my suggestion – and act quickly,” said Premier Clark. “But if they don’t, and if we are re-elected, I will instruct the civil service to immediately begin drafting the regulatory framework – and impose a levy on thermal coal that will make these shipments unprofitable.”

Thermal coal is among the dirtiest and most carbon-intensive methods to generate power and heat. Last year, 6.6 million tonnes of thermal coal was exported through BC ports, 94 per cent from the United States. The vast majority of coal mined in British Columbia is metallurgical coal, used in steelmaking.

“Banning thermal coal is the right thing to do for BC LNG and biomass producers who can help fill the need for cleaner energy in Asia,” said Premier Clark. “And now is the right time to do it, because while good trading partners cooperate, the United States has launched this unfair assault against key sectors of our economy and the workers they employ.”

John Horgan and the BC NDP’s position is whatever Leo Gerard says it is. Gerard is head of the Pittsburgh-based U.S. Steelworkers union paying the salaries of Horgan’s top three campaign staff – the same man who stood beside Donald Trump when he called Canadian workers a “disgrace,” and took the pen Trump used to sign the order as a souvenir.

How to be a wedding guest on a budget

By, Carla Hindman,

From wedding showers to engagement parties to wedding ceremonies, the cost of celebrating the couple-to-be can put a strain on your budget during the summer wedding season. According to WeddingBells Canada, weddings are a $5-billion business in Canada, with more than 160,000 weddings taking place every year and 67% of weddings occurring between June and September.

Are weddings also a financial burden for guests? For a few years in my late twenties, it seemed like as soon as summer hit, I was spending every weekend at a wedding, and spending all my dollars while I was at it! Though I loved celebrating with my friends, between travel and gifts, the pressure from all the partying was putting a strain on my bank account. If you’re heading to a few weddings this summer, here are some tips to get you through the season without paying the high cost of love:

Build a budget: Before wedding season, take inventory of upcoming weddings and build a budget based on your current financial situation. Do you have wiggle room for the extra dollars you may need to fork out on expenses beyond the main event? If not, consider making adjustments to your spending habits leading up to wedding season. Need help building a budget? Practical Money Skills has a calculator that can help you build or even rework a budget.

Wedding Attire:  Want to look your best on someone else’s big day? It’ll cost you. RetailMeNot says that Wedding guests spend an average of $325 for wedding attire, with men outspending women (men spend an average of $334). Don’t be afraid to recycle your outfits. For men, simply changing a shirt and tie combo can make for a quick and less costly new look. Women can save by exploring dress rental stores with options that will keep them on trend. Another option is to stick with a classic little black dress, but switch up accessories for a different look. If you really want to wear something new, you can make a little extra cash by selling your old suits and dresses at a consignment shop or online. Also, be on the lookout for buy, trade and sell groups on social media sites – often they have gently used attire that could help you celebrate in style.

Wedding Gifts: Wedding gifts can also take a big slice out of your budget. According to the RetailMeNot survey, 54 per cent of Canadians prefer to give cash. But cash is not always king for your budget. Consider bringing together a group to pitch in for a big-ticket item and don’t forget to look for sales while shopping the gift registry. Giving the newlyweds an experience, like a cooking class or a honeymoon excursion, is also a great idea for a present. Most of all be thoughtful. If your friends have invited you to share their day, hopefully they’ll be more thrilled with your presence than your present!

Travel expenses: Travelling to and from a wedding can be costly. If possible, travel with a group to cut down on fuel and hotel costs. Heading to a destination wedding? A WeddingBells survey estimates that one in four weddings that occur between November and April will be destination weddings. Explore using your rewards or loyalty points on airfare and hotel costs.

Bottom Line: Weddings are expensive, even if you’re not the one walking down the aisle. With planning and budgeting you can enjoy wedding season without breaking the bank.

By, Carla Hindman, Director of Financial Education, Visa Canada

http://www.practicalmoneyskills.ca

Tax Tips to Help and Tax Scams to Avoid

Vancouver, BC – Tax season is here and BBB offers plenty of tips to help you find a trust tax preparer and to potentially avoid a couple of scams making the rounds in Canada.

“The CRA tax scam was still on our National Top 10 Scams list this year,” says Evan Kelly, Senior Communications Advisor for BBB serving Mainland BC. “The upside is we did see a drop in that scam, however it came back when the scammers contacted their victims offering to return their money for a fee.”

The CRA scam involved threatening phone calls at all hours demanding a tax repayment or you would be arrested or deported.

“The other good thing, is that according to BBB’s new Risk Index, fewer people are actually falling for tax scams this year even if they are approached,” adds Kelly. “Other scams we have seen are fake emails that look like they come from the CRA or other online tax return applications that actually redirect any government payments or steal information. These we need to be aware of.”

BBB offers these tip to find a trusted tax professional and to avoid getting scammed:

* Check on qualifications. Ask about their training, experience and knowledge of current tax law, and whether they are members of a professional organization with continuing education requirements and a code of ethics.

* Learn about their service terms in advance. Find out whether they guarantee the accuracy of their work and amend the return if there’s a mistake. And find out if they can be reached year round if there is a mistake or are required to undergo an audit, you want to make sure you can reach them after the tax season is complete.

* Ask for references. Get referrals from satisfied clients.

* Check with BBB. Visit www.bbb.org/mbc/ to determine if the tax preparer has a reputation for reliability and trustworthiness.

* Request a quote. Ask for an estimate of the preparation fee before authorizing the work.

* Signature. Make certain the preparer has signed it and get a copy and payment receipt for your records. Also review the return before signing it and ask for clarification of any entries you don’t understand.

Each year new scams surface online, promising tax refunds and other incentives to get you to part with your personal information.

Be on the watch for the following tax scams:

* Phishing Scams. Never open or download attachments included with messages claiming to be from the Canada Revenue Agency. Typically, these messages advise the recipient that they have qualified for a tax refund and need to click on a link to enter their information. The link takes the person to a bogus website and requires the visitor to enter personal identification. CRA will not contact you via email. Sometimes this is used to re-direct a direct deposit return.

* Identity Theft. If you’re doing your taxes on your own online, don’t use a public wireless connection. Even using the latest wireless security encryption standards such as WPA2 can be risky, so use a wired connection when dealing with sensitive financial and personal information.

* Malware. Refrain from opening any unsolicited tax-related email message, as some messages can exploit weaknesses in your browser and initiate a drive-by download of spyware or malware without your knowledge.

* The Canada Revenue Agency DOES NOT solicit personal information online or over the phone.

India rejects extension on pulse imports in blow to Canada’s largest market

CALGARY — India has rejected a long-standing exemption on pest treatment for peas and lentils in a blow to Canada’s top export market for the crops.

Federal Agriculture Minister spokesman Guy Gallant confirmed the Indian government has not granted another six-month exemption that would have crops fumigated on arrival, rather than before export, as has been allowed for more than a decade.

The decision puts Canada’s pulse exports to the country, worth $1.1-billion in 2016 and $1.5-billion in 2015, in jeopardy because the required treatment of methyl bromide doesn’t work in the cold and also is being phased out because it’s damaging to the ozone layer.

“India’s our largest market for pulse crops for peas and lentils, so the importance of India can’t be overstated,” said Carl Potts, executive director of Saskatchewan Pulse Growers.

“From a farmers’ perspective, ensuring we have ongoing, continual market access is a very important priority for us,” he said.

Some shippers have already stopped accepting pulses for export to India over fears they will be rejected on arrival, since the current exemption expires at the end of March.

Gord Kurbis, director of market access and trade at Pulse Canada, said officials at the Canadian Food Inspection Agency and their Indian counterparts are working on a potential solution that could see Canada’s system of management practices and controls stand in for treatment before export.

But with the March deadline looming, he’s worried there’s not enough time for the scientists and regulators to approve the solution.

“The timing is definitely an issue,” said Kurbis.

He said he’s hoping officials will step in and keep the trade open until a longer-term agreement is reached.

“There needs to be awareness of this issue and intervention at the highest levels,” said Kurbis.

Gallant said the federal government is still working that long-term solution, and that the issue will come up when Agriculture Minister Lawrence MacAulay visits India next week.

The trade issue comes after exports of peas and lentils to India grew by 20 per cent a year between 2010 and 2015 to account for about a third of all pulse exports for Canada’s 12,000 pulse farmers.

Pulse Canada says the fumigation treatment is not needed because the insects India is concerned about aren’t in Canada, and the cold winters help reduce the threat of other pests.

The issue carries some parallels to Canada’s dispute last year over canola exports to China, which had set restrictions on the amount of detritus allowed in shipments because of pest concerns.

The Canadian Press

Bank of Canada holds interest rate, warns of ‘significant uncertainties’

OTTAWA – The Bank of Canada held its benchmark interest rate steady on Wednesday and warned that it is keeping a watchful eye on “significant uncertainties” weighing on the outlook for the economy.
The scheduled rate announcement arrived as the central bank tries to assess the direction of U.S. economic policy under President Donald Trump — and the potential fallout from any policy changes he makes.
The bank has said some U.S. proposals, which include a border tax and protectionist policies, would have “material consequences” for Canadian investment and exports.
In an unusually short statement, the Bank of Canada used strong language when referring to uncertainties, as it did in the news release that accompanied its last rate announcement on Jan. 18.
At that time, two days before Trump’s inauguration, the bank indicated that “uncertainty about the global outlook is undiminished, particularly with respect to policies in the United States.”
On Wednesday, the statement said it was “attentive to the impact of significant uncertainties weighing on the outlook.”
As widely expected, the trend-setting target for the bank’s overnight interest rate stayed at the same level it’s been since July 2015: 0.5 per cent.
In explaining the decision by Governor Stephen Poloz’s council, the bank said improvements seen in recent economic data releases have been consistent with its projections.
The central bank also expects growth in the fourth quarter of 2016 — as measured by real gross domestic product — might come in slightly stronger than predicted because of recent consumption and housing data releases. Statistics Canada is scheduled to release those GDP figures Thursday.
On the downside, however, the bank said Canadian exports continue to face competitiveness challenges while the job market has seen weaker growth in wages and hours worked.
The bank made a point of emphasizing how Canada’s labour market conditions have contrasted with a much-stronger U.S. performance.
This was a way for Poloz to signal that Canada is not at the same point of the economic cycle as the U.S., said TD senior economist Brian DePratto.
DePratto expects the Bank of Canada to keep rates unchanged through 2017 even as the U.S. central bank lifts rates a couple of time over the next year.
If anything, he said Canadian rates will probably move down before they go up, especially if policy changes made by Trump slow Canada-U.S. trade.
“Anything that dampens that relationship is going to be growth negative here and could potentially mean a Bank of Canada reaction,” said DePratto, adding that interest rate policy divergence would likely weaken the Canadian dollar.
While a weaker currency could help help lift growth by encouraging exports, consumers would likely have to pay more for imported goods, like fresh fruit from places like California.
On inflation, the bank said Wednesday that it’s looking past January’s surprisingly robust headline figure of 2.1 per cent. It said the number was a result of a temporary jump caused by higher energy prices that were largely tied to the implementation of carbon-pricing policies in Ontario and Alberta.
The Bank of Canada made its rate decision amid ongoing uncertainty surrounding the policy agenda of the country’s largest trading partner.
Analysts were hoping to learn more about the bank’s thinking when it comes to potential U.S. policy changes, but the brief statement offered few details.
The Bank of Canada has yet to factor in the full range of economic policies expected under Trump in its projections.
Trump has pushed for the renegotiation of the North American Free Trade Agreement, though he has said the changes to the deal would only involve “tweaking.”
The U.S. proposals have created significant concerns within Corporate Canada and for the federal government.
On Wednesday, Finance Minister Bill Morneau met his new U.S. counterpart, Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin, for the first time. Morneau and the federal government have been trying to figure out Trump’s plans and how they may affect Canada.

THE CANADIAN PRESS

B.C. man who scammed three with sham stock scheme banned from trading

BY BETHANY LINDSAY

Vancouver sun

Ayaz Dhanani, shown here in a Facebook photo, is in court this week to face criminal charges of fraud and theft, and is also facing fraud allegations from the B.C. Securities Commission. Dhanani says he is not guilty and the cases against him are without merit.

Ayaz Dhanani, shown here in a Facebook photo, is in court this week to face criminal charges of fraud and theft, and is also facing fraud allegations from the B.C. Securities Commission. Dhanani says he is not guilty and the cases against him are without merit. PHOTO BY FACEBOOK PHOTO

A Vancouver man who defrauded investors with promises of lucrative returns from imaginary companies has been permanently banned from B.C.’s capital markets and fined $225,000.

Ayaz Dhanani bilked three people out of $188,800 in a scheme involving stocks in gold-mining and oil companies. None of the firms or stocks were real, and the B.C. Securities Commission ordered Dhanani last week to pay back the ill-gotten funds, end all involvement in the securities market, and pay a hefty administrative penalty.

“The respondent’s misconduct is an egregious form of fraud,” the BCSC panel wrote in its decision. “It was all a sham. There is no evidence that there ever were any real investments contemplated by the respondent. The respondent simply pocketed the funds obtained from the investors and used them for the personal expenses of himself and his family.”

The gravity of the scam was particularly intense because of the lies Dhanani told, including the use of aliases, according to the decision. The fraudster is known to use at least six aliases.

One victim told a BCSC hearing that he was just 21 when he lost $55,000 in the scam, money he had saved from summer jobs and birthday gifts. Another said he was “in a desperate state” when he handed over $120,000.

Money from two of the investors ended up in a bank account belonging to Dhanani’s father. So far, none of the victims have been paid back, and despite a freeze order on one account, it’s not clear when or if Dhanani will have enough money to reimburse them.

Dhanani also has a history of criminal convictions for fraud. He is currently in jail facing numerous charges including theft, assault, kidnapping, identity theft and fraud.

 

Percentage of single-family homes in Metro Vancouver worth more than $1 million in 2016 widens from 28% to 43%: Andy Yan

BY JOANNE LEE-YOUNG

In his latest snapshot of housing unaffordability, researcher Andy Yan shows the percentage of Metro Vancouver homes valued over $1 million rose from 28 per cent to 43 per cent in 2016.

Marked in red are homes over $1 million for 2016 and 2015.

For the past five years, Yan’s so-called “million dollar line” looking at home values based on data from B.C. Assessment has been a visual way to capture the geographical divide in housing prices.

At first, the symbolic measure sat around Main Street between Vancouver’s west and east sides before drifting eastward beyond Fraser Street. Last year, for the first time, it fanned out as Yan accessed data to include rising prices for homes across Metro Vancouver.

For 2016, which is based on assessments at July 2015, Richmond, Burnaby, Vancouver, North Vancouver and West Vancouver all had over 60 per cent of homes worth 1 million or more — with West Vancouver at the highest with 97 per cent.

Said Yan: “I’m guessing this rise is probably not due to increases in local wages and incomes. I think it’s likely a convergence and combination of constrained supply for single family detached housing, low interest loans, property speculation, and global capital with a sprinkle of trying to secure adequate family-oriented housing for many households with children.”

There doesn’t seem to be an abating of this trend in close sight despite softening real estate prices for some parts and categories of Metro Vancouver in 2016.

B.C. Assessment has warned that single detached homes in Metro Vancouver will be assessed 30 to 50 per cent higher for 2017 taxes than in 2016. It said that these properties went up the most in Vancouver, Surrey, Richmond, Burnaby, the North Shore, Squamish and in the Tri-Cities from July 1, 2015 to July 1, 2016, which is the date on which yearly assessments for 2017 taxes are set.

Yan, who is director at Simon Fraser University’s City Program, also looked at the impact of transportation costs on housing affordability.

In the City of Vancouver the average cost of transportation over 25 years — assuming two per cent inflation per year and that nothing changes to improve the current situation — works out to be $298,459, according to Yan.

By comparison, if you live in the Township of Langley, the 25-year cost of transportation would be $563,755.

Across the Metro Vancouver region, if you add in amortized 25 year average annual transportation cost estimates, the percentage of homes with a cost of over $1 million rises significantly from 43 per cent to 92 per cent.

In areas such as Vancouver, the North Shore, Burnaby and Richmond, adding in such transportation costs increases the percentage of home values, but it’s in Coquitlam, New Westminster, Surrey, Delta, Port Coquitlam and the township and city of Langley where the contrast is most pronounced. In Coquitlam, the percentage of home valued over $1 million goes from 22.4 per cent to 97 per cent if you account for estimated amortized transportation costs. In the township of Langley, the percentage rises from 4.8 per cent to 90 per cent.

“This is only looking at the (straight) cost of transportation, not even the time,” said Yan.

He continued: “There is ‘phantom affordability’ too, if you will. This idea that you can drive (further from the city) until you qualify (to buy a home) doesn’t take into consideration that as home mortgages (cost less) transportation mortgages (in some areas) go up.”

Yan said this is precisely the direction seen in some U.S. cities, where the areas hardest hit by affordability woes have been the outskirts and suburbs rather than the city centres even when they have seen some of the highest home prices.

Canadians’ rising household debt key risk to economy, Bank of Canada warns

BARBARA SHECTER, FINANCIAL POST

The key vulnerabilities to the Canadian financial system continue to be elevated household debt, imbalances in the housing market across the country, and “fragile” fixed-income market liquidity, the Bank of Canada said Thursday in its year-end review.

But the central bank says new “household vulnerabilities” will be mitigated over time by new housing finance rules, which are expected to slow the housing market.

In the December report, the second of two assessments of risk each year, the Bank of Canada noted that mortgage rates are rising in response to government and regulatory changes to housing finance rules, as well as higher long-term bond yields that are increasing lender funding costs.

However, though global economic growth has picked up in the second half of the year, Canadians continue to labour under record debt loads.

“On a national basis, household indebtedness has continued to rise and, more importantly, so has the proportion of highly indebted households in many Canadian cities,” the report said.

Highly indebted individuals are key targets of the new federal measures aimed at cooling the housing market, but it will take time for the changes to have the desired effect, Carolyn Wilkins, senior deputy governor of the Bank of Canada, said at a news conference Thursday.

“It’s not something that will be a matter of weeks. That’ll be over the next few years, so it will take some time for that risk to come down,” she said.

Since the Bank of Canada’s last report on financial system stability in June, federal, provincial and municipal authorities have introduced policies and rules aimed at tamping down skyrocketing home prices, particularly in Toronto and Vancouver. These include British Columbia’s land transfer tax that applies to foreign buyers, and more stringent federal requirements to qualify for insured mortgages across the country. In addition, the Office of the Superintendent of Financial Institutions is ratcheting up the amount of capital banks must hold against riskier mortgages.

“Taken together, the changes will have the greatest effect on household indebtedness by improving the quality of future borrowing,” the Bank of Canada report says.

If new measures requiring a higher qualifying rate for borrowers had been in place during the 12 months leading up to September of 2016, 31 per cent of high-ratio mortgages issued nationally would not have qualified, the report says. High-ratio mortgages are those with a loan to value of more than 80 per cent.

The report notes that tightened rules for obtaining portfolio insurance or other low-ratio mortgage insurance should also influence household debt by making refinancing and long-amortization transactions more expensive or less available.

For now, the national ratio of debt to disposable income is approaching 170 per cent, with strong growth in mortgage credit, and consumer credit. And it is growing at or slightly above the rate of income growth.

“The proportion of borrowers with high mortgage debt relative to income continues to increase in many Canadian cities,” the report said.

“This trend is partly fuelled by rising house prices, particularly in Toronto and Vancouver.”

Almost half of the high-ratio mortgages originated in Toronto in the third quarter had loan-to-income ratios that exceeded 450 per cent, up from 41 per cent a year earlier.

What’s more, the Bank of Canada report says, high loan-to-income mortgages are spreading beyond Toronto to nearby cities including Oshawa and Hamilton. It these cities, the proportion of high-ratio mortgages with loan-to-income ratios exceeding 450 per cent has more than doubled over the past three years to 25 per cent.

One area where risk has diminished slightly since the Bank of Canada’s report in June is the potential fallout from low commodity prices.

To some extent, “we’ve come past that,” Stephen Poloz, Governor of the Bank of Canada, said at Thursday’s news conference. He said prices have come up from lows and shown more stability in the past six months. Still, the central bank is keeping an eye on the continuing impacts on households in oil-dependent provinces.

“We don’t see it as a major risk, but it’s important to understand that it’s not over,” Poloz said.

Beyond household debt and the mortgage market, the central bank’s report also weighed in a segment of the capital markets that is drawing attention at the international level: bond market liquidity.

An in-depth market survey conducted by the Canadian Fixed-Income Forum, an industry group assembled by the central bank, found that there are “pockets where liquidity problems are more evident,” Bank of Canada Governor Stephen Poloz said in a statement Thursday.

These pockets include corporate bonds and certain repo markets.

However, it is too early to determine that regulatory changes are behind the liquidity issues, since markets have yet to fully adapt to the new regulatory requirements, Poloz said. In addition, he said comparisons to the market before the 2008 financial crisis may not be the best standard for comparison “because liquidity was excessive and virtually costless at that time.”

Poloz said the Bank of Canada will keep tabs on the fixed income market, particularly since new regulations are likely to make liquidity marginally more costly, and market-making less lucrative.

“We will continue to monitor market behaviour and to engage with market participants, while pursuing work on the impact of regulatory reforms at the international level,” he said.

B.C. government offers down payment loans to first-time homebuyers

VICTORIA — The B.C. government will loan first-time homebuyers some of the cash they need to afford their down payment, Premier Christy Clark announced Thursday.

The program will provide a government-backed loan of up to $37,500, or five per cent, of the purchase price of a home for qualified buyers, starting Jan. 16.

The goal is to match part of a person’s down payment to help them afford to buy their first home, as long as they already qualify for a mortgage under federal rules and the home is worth less than $750,000.

“What we know is for many first-time home buyers qualifying for a mortgage is hard, but getting past that down payment and scraping together the $25,000 or $50,000 you might need to be able to get into your first home is just impossible,” said Clark.

“So we want to be there to help first-time home buyers get over that hump.”

Clark said the move is a way for government to “be a partner in your home” and move renters into home ownership where possible.

The 25-year loan is interest-free for the first five years, and does not require the homeowner to even pay down the principal during those first five years, as long as they keep the home as their principal residence. It will be recorded as a second mortgage on the title of the property.

After the first five years, the province expects monthly payments at the current interest rate, with the loan repaid over the remaining 20 years. Extra payments or full repayment at any time will be allowed, according to the government.

The new down-payment program will cost government an estimated $703 million over three years, and is expected to help 42,000 people, according to government figures.

To be eligible, a homeowner must:

  • Have saved a down payment amount at least equal to the loan amount for which they are applying from government.
  • Have been a Canadian citizen or permanent resident for at least five years.
  • Have lived in B.C. for at least one year prior to the sale.
  • Be a first-time buyer who has not owned an interest in any residential property anywhere in the world at any time.
  • The home must have a purchase price of less than $750,000.
  • The buyer must already be able to qualify for an insured high-ratio first mortgage for at least 80 per cent of the purchase price.
  • The combined gross household income of all people on title must not be more than $150,000.

Provincial officials provided a few examples Thursday of how the program would work.

On a home worth $600,000, federal mortgage rules dictate a person must have a down payment of at least $35,000. If the person has saved only $30,000, the government would provide a matching $30,000 loan, giving the buyer $60,000 for the down payment.

On a home worth $750,000 (the program maximum), the minimum down payment would be $50,000.  If a person had saved a $52,500 down payment, government would provide five per cent of the $750,000, adding $37,500 to the down payment and allowing the buyer to pay almost $90,000 as the down payment. That could save $5,200 on interest payments on the mortgage over five years, say government officials.

Applications for the program will start on Jan. 16, 2017, for purchases that close on or after Feb. 15, 2017. The province said it will be a three-year program.

Government officials told media Thursday they hoped the program would have a very small default rate on the loans, because the owners would be meeting federal mortgage rules and qualifications under federal stress tests.

The premier said she was not concerned the program would raise housing prices.

“Our analysis tells us that it won’t because everybody who is going to be eligible for this program will have to have been accepted for a mortgage already,” said Clark.

The changes for first-time homebuyers are the latest in a series of housing reforms by the Clark government.

The province introduced a 15-per-cent tax on foreign buyers in August, which data suggests has sharply curtailed foreign purchases in the Metro Vancouver real estate market. The tax has done little to lower the price of most detached homes, but the real estate industry expects prices to drop next year.

The government had also offered tax breaks to first-time homebuyers in its February budget. The budget reforms included removing the property transfer tax on newly built homes worth up to $750,000 (a tax savings of up to $13,000), while increasing the property transfer tax to three per cent from two per cent on homes sold for more than $2 million. At that time, the province chose not to change the $475,000 threshold on used homes that allowed first-time homebuyers to also avoid the property transfer tax.

The Ivanka boycott: Trump’s problem with women could tarnish his daughter’s million-dollar brand

Danielle Paquette, Washington Post

Donald Trump’s presidential campaign hasn’t exactly enhanced his brand. Over the last year, bookings for Trump hotels in New York, Las Vegas and Chicago plummeted 58 per cent. Foot traffic to Trump properties fell 17 per cent year-over-year in March, April and June. The National Hispanic Media Coalition asked businesses in July to cut ties with the Republican presidential nominee. Protesters cried boycott outside the Wednesday grand opening of the new Trump International Hotel in Washington, D.C.

But his eldest daughter’s retail ventures appeared to dodge the ire – until the conversation shifted to his treatment of women. Now thousands of social media users are urging others to avoid stores that carry her namesake goods. Even some shoppers who haven’t seen the hashtags – #GrabYourWallet, #BoycottIvanka – say they’re spurning her office-wear.

 “I just don’t want that name in my closet,” explained 31-year-old graphic designer Jessie Newman, as she shopped at T.J. Maxx in Washington, D.C.

Ivanka Trump, 34, has painted herself a champion of bread-winning mothers and harnessed Trump’s White House bid to buoy that image. As she rallied to close the gender pay gap during her speech at the Republican National Convention in July, she sported one of her own designs, a $157 pink dress. The next morning, she linked to the look on Twitter.

This pairing of business and politics seemed to initially pay off. Google searches for her clothing brand spiked in the hours after her RNC debut and soared again following a September stump speech, in which she helped unveil the GOP nominee’s child-care plan.

Then the Washington Post published a 2005 tape on Oct. 7, showing Trump bragging about kissing and grabbing women without their permission. Ivanka continued to support her dad after the White House labeled such behaviour sexual assault, after 11 women accused the candidate of making unwanted advances on them, and after Trump suggested the accusers weren’t attractive enough for him to pursue.

“My father’s comments were clearly inappropriate and offensive,” she said of the 2005 tape in an interview with Fast Company magazine, “and I’m glad that he acknowledged this fact with an immediate apology to my family and the American people .”

That wasn’t good enough for Shannon Coulter, 45, who runs a marketing firm near San Francisco. A male boss had groped her once. Trump’s remarks reminded her of the pain.

“She puts women’s empowerment at the centre of her brand,” she said, “and is still campaigning for someone who is an alleged serial assaulter.”Coulter shared her thoughts with the Internet, and they sparked a trend that, by Wednesday, had reached the feeds of more than two million Twitter accounts: Boycott Ivanka.

Ivanka Trump clothing generated roughly $100 million in revenue last fiscal year, according to G-III, the contractor that produces her apparel. It’s too early to tell if the web call to reject her goods has hit her bottom line.

Surveys suggest consumers have mixed feelings. A Brand Keys survey of 950 millennial woman, taken a week after the 2005 video was released, found that 51 per cent of respondents were “extremely” or “very” willing to buy her office-wear.

Jeff J Mitchell / Getty Images)

Jeff J Mitchell / Getty Images)Donald Trump and Ivanka

“Ivanka’s brand does not appear to have suffered the same fate as her father’s,” said Brand Keys President Robert Passikoff in a written statement. “There may be an ‘I Hate All Things Trump’ backlash going on at the moment, but as it regards Ivanka, we’re estimating that it will be relatively small and short-term.”

But in a national survey of 1,983 voters, conducted last week by polling firm Morning Consult, 57 per cent of women said they would not purchase clothing from Ivanka’s namesake line, while less than a quarter said they would. The mogul’s presidential run made 35 per cent of the survey respondents “much less likely” to buy or use a Trump-related product. Another 4 per cent are “somewhat less likely.”

Dimitrios Kambouris / Getty Images

Dimitrios Kambouris / Getty ImagesIvanka Trump attends Ivanka Trump Fragrance Launch at Macy’s Herald Square on February 19, 2013 in New York City

Seventeen per cent, meanwhile, said they are “much more” or “somewhat more” likely to buy or use Trump products in light of the campaign.

That does not bode well for Ivanka’s clothing line.

“Brands are affected by what they’re associated with,” said marketing strategist Karen Leland, author of “The Brand Mapping Strategy, “And most people who shop for women’s clothing are women.”

Some shoppers, she said, appear to be associating Trump with casual disrespect toward women. Leland recalls shopping recently with a friend in New York who snatched a blouse out of her hand. “I didn’t realize what I was holding,” she said, “but my friend say, ‘That’s Ivanka. You’re not allowed to buy that.”

On Wednesday afternoon, three blocks from Trump’s new hotel in the nation’s capital, Candace Steele, 34, browsed through blouses at T.J. Maxx. She touched a black Ivanka Trump top with white butterflies, on sale for $19.99.

“I just can’t do it,” she said. “I can’t bring myself to buy it.”

Steele, who identifies as Republican and an undecided voter, saw nothing wrong with the shirt itself. She doesn’t dislike Ivanka, either.

“I know she can’t control her dad but. . .” she trailed off. “Ivanka’s in a hard position.”