February 2020 – First Mover

With a mission to inform, empower, celebrate and advocate for British Columbia's current and aspiring business leaders, BCBusiness go behind the headlines and bring readers face to face with the key issues and people driving business in B.C.

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G O F I G U R E Last year, the federal government offered almost $2.8 million in funding for the Roadmap to Future Workplaces project, which aims to help businesses comply with the new anti- bullying regulations FEBRUARY 2020 BCBUSINESS 21 WORKSAFEBC, MORNEAU SHEPELL, UBC SAUDER SCHOOL OF BUSINESS, HARVARD BUSINESS REVIEW 2/3 of British Columbians say their workplaces have policies related to bullying, the 2nd- highest rate in Canada 64% of those say the policies are effective In 2018, WorkSafeBC received 3,585 enquiries related specifically to bullying and harassment, a 41% increase from 2016 Workers most likely in Canada to experience bullying or harassment 23% Health 18% Sales + Service 17% Management/ Trades Least bullied 9% Scientists In a recent national survey, of employees with mental health issues worried that their career options would be limited if their workplace knew 2/3 A study of some 14,000 U.S. and Canadian workers who had experienced incivility at the office found that: 48% intentionally decreased their work effort Room for Rent B.C. rental construction is booming, with a big push from the federal government by Steve Saretsky P R OP E R T Y WAT C H B uyer beware? In B.C., it's more like buyer despair. The province's volatile housing market has led to a drop in prices, but afford- ability remains a problem. Even with low unemployment and rising wages, owning a home remains out of reach for many residents. Let's face it: ownership in B.C. has prob- ably peaked at the 68 percent reported by Statistics Canada. The real estate industry, including Canada Mortgage and Housing Corp., is finally paying attention. For a decade, CMHC, whose current mandate is to make it easier for Canadians to access a variety of affordable housing options, has largely concentrat- ed on boosting home owner- ship. Its policies, which include bulk insuring and securitizing of mortgages with taxpayer dollars, have helped to inflate prices to a point that has left the financial system in a vul- nerable spot, while completely neglecting the rental market. Under president and CEO Evan Siddall, though, CMHC is taking things in another direction. Crafting a narrative that renting a home can and should be a viable option for many Canadians, the Crown corporation has shifted away from insuring leveraged home- buyers to supporting purpose- built rental construction. For example, back in January 2013, 59 percent of chartered bank mortgages were insured; today that number hovers around 39 percent. CMHC's new focus is its Rental Construction Financ- ing program, which provides low-cost loans encouraging construction of rental housing across the country. Rates usu- ally range from 1.5 to 3 percent, about 100 to 300 basis points cheaper than conventional con- struction credit. These loans are also locked in for 10 years, with potential for a 50-year amortization. Developers in B.C. and elsewhere are taking CMHC up on its generous offer. Demand has been so hot that the federal government plans to increase the program to almost $14 bil- lion over the next nine years, way up from $2.5 billion when it launched in 2017. For renters and those seek- ing an alternative to expen- sive home ownership, that's welcome news. As of the third quarter of 2019, there were a re- cord 15,946 rental homes under construction across B.C., ac- cording to CMHC. Rental hous- ing starts sit at all-time highs, too, with more coming as word of the agency's construction financing program spreads. Despite all the grim head- lines about the province's af- fordability prospects, hope is on the horizon. Besides taking pressure off the home owner- ship market, an economy with more rental options gives those living and working in B.C. a healthier choice between own- ing and renting. • Through the Roof Over the past decade, the number of rental units under construction in B.C. has surged eightfold 0 2,000 4,000 6,000 8,000 10,000 12,000 14,000 16,000 18,000 1990/Q1 1991/Q 2 1992/Q 3 1993/Q4 1995/Q1 1996/Q 2 1997/Q 3 1998/Q4 2000/Q1 2001/Q 2 2002/Q 3 200 3/Q4 2005/Q1 2006/Q 2 2007/Q 3 2008/Q4 2010/Q1 2011/Q 2 2012/Q 3 2013/Q4 2015/Q1 2016/Q 2 2017/Q 3 2018/Q4 SOURCE: CANADA MORTGAGE AND HOUSING CORP.

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