Immigrants the proudest Canadians, poll suggests

We love people that are New to Canada. New immigrants are 20% of our business. There are lots of tricks on what is needed to get a mortgage for them and not all banks do these files BUT WE ARE SPECIALISTS at it. I will upload our brochure for it here.

They can normally buy with:

  • 5% down if they have a foreign credit report – England, most all of South America – including Mexico, Portugal or Spain.
  • or 10% down. 5% from own savings and 5% from other possible sources – like relocaton allowances, gifts from home, etc.
  • and a full time, permanent job.

Call to discuss these files. The one tough part is their files do not get rate holds so it is live deals – when you have an accepted offer to purchase – only.

Most Canadians feel immigrants are just as likely to be good citizens as people who were born here, a recent Environics survey suggests.

Canadians also don’t appear to have problems with dual citizenship or with Canadian citizens living abroad.

The telephone survey is, according to Environics, the first poll to directly ask Canadians their views on citizenship. Its results suggest Canadians have a broad, inclusive view of the concept and of immigrants in general.

“To be a good citizen, it means to contribute to the society, to obey the laws of the country, to help other citizens, to volunteer, and it’s a rewarding feeling when you do all those things,” said Sara Jhangiryan, an Armenian-born resident of Toronto who became a Canadian citizen last year.

“It’s not only to take what the country offers but to give back, as well.”

Although not part of the survey, Jhangiryan echoes the views of many of those who responded to the poll, a joint initiative of Environics, the Institute for Canadian Citizenship, the Maytree foundation, CBC News and the Royal Bank of Canada.

When asked what makes a good citizen, the top five responses were: obeying laws, actively participating in the community, helping other people, being tolerant of others and sharing or adopting Canadian values.

But when asked to list what they did to be good citizens, respondents cited volunteer work, being kind/generous to others, paying taxes, obeying laws and voting.

The survey suggests Canadians see immigrants as their equals: nearly 9 out of every 10 respondents agreed that a person born outside Canada is just as likely to be a good citizen as someone born here.

“There’s no real evidence of people feeling threatened or a sense that, ‘Well, people can come live here from other countries, but they’re not quite the same,'” said Keith Neuman, executive director of the Environics Institute.

When it comes to immigration and citizenship, the views of the majority of Canadians born in the country and the 20 per cent born outside it are largely aligned. Canadian-born and foreign-born respondents were equally likely to feel fully like citizens (78 per cent versus 75 per cent).

Usha George, dean of Ryerson University’s Faculty of Community Services, says the survey’s findings confirm a lot of what those working with new Canadians know already.

The willingness of Canadians to not view a person’s foreign background as an impediment to citizenship is a product of the country’s multicultural policies and the visible effect of immigrants on the economy, George said.

Integration of immigrants has worked in Canada because the government has funded programs that teach immigrants about Canadian values and society has adapted its institutions to accommodate diversity.

“The mutual recognition that we should be respectful to each other and celebrate diversity in a genuine way, those values permeate the whole society,” said George, whose faculty trains many of those who provide social and other services to new immigrants.

Whatever Canada is doing, it seems to be positively influencing immigrants’ views of the country, the survey suggests: 88 per cent of respondents who were born outside Canada said they were very proud to be Canadian, compared with 81 per cent of those born here.

“Canadians who were not born in Canada are more proud than naturally born Canadians simply because we had the choice of being Canadian,” said Vikram Kewalramani, who immigrated to Canada in 2006 from India. “It wasn’t something that, literally, was a birthright. We consider it a privilege.”

For Amal Ibrahim, a Palestinian who became a citizen last year along with her two children, Canadian citizenship is primarily about respecting differences.

“It’s a great diverse culture where people learn how to live in harmony with each other while they have different ideas, different religions and different backgrounds,” she said.

Tolerance of others who are different was among the top five behaviours survey respondents considered a “very important” part of being a good citizen. Others were:

Treating men and women equally (95 per cent ranked this “very important”).

Following Canada’s laws (89 per cent).

Voting in elections (82 per cent – the same as tolerance of others).

Protecting the environment (80 per cent).

Immigrants’ views of what makes a good citizen were strikingly similar to those of native-born Canadians, said Neuman. In the majority of cases, the responses of the two groups varied at most by only a few percentage points.

“People might think … that newcomers are coming [into] this country … with their own sense of what it means to be a citizen, and they don’t really buy into the same perspective that native-born Canadians have,” he said.

“And this research pretty clearly suggests that they’re largely the same perspective, and the more somebody is in this country, the more immigrants buy into the native-born view.”

Canadians are generally satisfied with the rules for obtaining citizenship, the survey suggests. Only 26 per cent of respondents said the rules were not strict enough. Six per cent felt the rules were too strict, though that number tripled for permanent residents.

Canada’s willingness to allow multiple citizenships also got broad approval in the survey: 71 per cent of those surveyed felt Canadians should be allowed to hold dual citizenship.

That sentiment was even higher among 18- to 44-year-olds, with 80 per cent supporting dual citizenship, but lower for those 60 and over, at 58 per cent.

“I am equally proud of both citizenships,” said Natasha Nikolovska-Angelova, 32, who became a Canadian citizen last April. “Macedonia is more like my mother … the country where I was raised, and Canada is the country I chose to live in. It’s like the spouse you choose.… It’s the country of my future.”

Nikolovska-Angelova is part of the roughly 2.8 per cent of Canadians who hold at least one other citizenship.

Most of those surveyed also didn’t have a problem with Canadians living abroad. Sixty-six per cent of respondents who were born in Canada said it was generally a good thing to allow Canadian citizens to live abroad, compared to 55 per cent of respondents born outside of Canada.

The survey of 2,376 adults was conducted between Nov.18 and Dec. 17 and has an overall margin of error of plus or minus two percentage points 19 times out of 20 (+/- 4.3 percentage points for the foreign-born subsample group). Only households with landlines were surveyed.

Calgary house prices and sales rise in September

Calgary is showing solid numbers are the in-migration continues. Almost 40% of people moving to Alberta move to Calgary.

CALGARY — Calgary house prices and sales rose in September compared with a year ago, according to the Canadian Real Estate Association.

In releasing its monthly data on Monday, CREA said MLS residential sales in Calgary reached 1,789 units in September, up 11.4 per cent from September 2010 while the average sale price rose by 1.3 per cent on an annual basis to $406,252.

Year-over-year in Alberta, sales rose by 9.7 per cent to 4,316 units while the average price increased by 3.0 per cent to $359,637.

Nationally, MLS sales of 37,760 were up 11.0 per cent from September 2010 and the average price rose by 6.5 per cent to $352,581.

“Canada’s housing market remains stable amid continuing financial market volatility, contributing to Canadians’ confidence in the economy and providing support for Canadian economic growth,” said Gregory Klump, CREA’s chief economist, in a statement. “Interest rates are expected to remain low for longer, and evidence suggests that recent changes to mortgage regulations are preventing the kind of excesses they were designed to avert. Both of these developments are good news for the housing market.”

© Copyright (c) The Calgary Herald

Calgary MLS sales jump 22% in August

CALGARY — MLS sales in Calgary rose by 22.1 per cent in August compared with a year ago — a greater year-over-year rate of growth than the rest of the country.

The Canadian Real Estate Association said Thursday that Calgary recorded 1,907 MLS sales for all residential properties during the month for an average price of $394,251, up 2.2 per cent from last year.

New listings in Calgary rose by 11.7 per cent in August to 3,819 and the sales as a percentage of new listings jumped by 4.2 per cent to 49.9 per cent.

In Canada, sales of 39,542 were 15.8 per cent higher than August 2010 and the average sale price of $349,916 was up 7.7 per cent.

New listings in Canada rose by 13.4 per cent to 73,125 and the sales as a percentage of new listings jumped by 1.1 per cent to 54.1 per cent.

“The housing market in Canada remained on a firm footing in August when compared to volatile financial markets,” said Gary Morse, president of CREA. “Through their actions, homebuyers are showing that they remain confident about the stability of the Canadian housing market, and recognize that the continuation of low interest rates represents an excellent opportunity to buy their first home or trade up.”

Gregory Klump, CREA’s chief economist, said economic and financial market headwinds outside Canada are keeping interest rates lower for longer.

“Those headwinds will likely persist until, and indeed after, fiscal quagmires in the U.S. and Europe are resolved,” he said. “In the meantime, the Bank of Canada will have ample reason to delay raising interest rates further, which is supportive for the Canadian housing market.”

© Copyright (c) The Calgary Herald

Housing Market in Canada is Stable

Housing Market Still Stable: CREA

Friday, 16 September 2011

According to new data released from the Canadian Real Estate Association, housing activity in Canada remained stable in the month of August, which represents the second month in a row.

“The housing market in Canada remained on a firm footing in August when compared to volatile financial markets,” said Gary Morse, CREA President. “Through their actions, homebuyers are showing that they remain confident about the stability of the Canadian housing market, and recognize that the continuation of low interest rates represents an excellent opportunity to buy their first home or trade up.”

Looking at specific metropolitan centres, Toronto and Ottawa registered a monthly increase in activity, compared with Calgary, Montreal and Vancouver registering slight declines. Year-over-year, actual sales activity nationally rose by 15.8%.

Representing the first time that year-to-date activity has surpassed 2010 levels, 324,030 homes have traded hands, which is also in line with the ten year average.
70% of all local markets were solidly in balanced territory for the month of August, which represents the largest percentage on record. Only 12 markets reported being in buyer’s market position.

The national sales-to-new listings ratio, a measure of market balance, stood at 51.6 per cent in August, unchanged compared to July. The actual (not seasonally adjusted) national average price for homes registered in at $349,916, which marks a 7.7 % increase year-over-year, which was also the lowest price point seen in 2010.

“Once again, economic and financial market headwinds outside Canada are keeping interest rates lower for longer,” said Gregory Klump, CREA’s Chief Economist. “Those headwinds will likely persist until, and indeed after, fiscal quagmires in the U.S. and Europe are resolved. In the meantime, the Bank of Canada will have ample reason to delay raising interest rates further, which is supportive for the Canadian housing market.”

Centres that had been hotbeds for both sales and for price appreciation, that had been having the effect of skewing national prices upwards like Toronto and Vancouver appear to have moderated somewhat, pulling price levels more in line with averages.

Alberta economic growth among Canada’s leaders

Alberta economic growth among Canada’s leaders: 3.7% hike forecast for this year

CALGARY — Alberta is positioned as one of Canada’s provincial leaders in growth, according to the latest RBC Economics Provincial Outlook report released Monday.

The provincial economy is set to grow at a rate of 3.7 per cent in 2011 and 3.9 per cent in 2012, said RBC. Both years Alberta will be second overall in the country behind nation-leading Saskatchewan’s growth rates of 4.3 per cent this year and 4.1 per cent next year.

Continued uncertainty in the global economy and volatility in the financial market forced RBC to downgrade its economic outlook for Canada. It is now predicting 2.4 per cent growth in 2011 and 2.5 per cent growth in 2012 for the country, down from 3.2 per cent this year and 3.1 per cent in 2012 it had forecast in June.

In June, the financial institution predicted economic growth of 4.3 per cent for Alberta this year and 3.8 per cent in 2012.

Increased production at major oilsands projects in Alberta in the past two years has rapidly boosted crude oil output and signs of further acceleration emerged earlier this year, said the report, but wildfires then forced widespread shut-downs in late-May and caused oil production to plummet in the weeks that followed.

“We expect that the negative economic impact from the wildfires will be short-lived, as most facilities were able to resume operations fairly quickly after the fires subsided,” said Craig Wright, senior vice-president and chief economist for RBC. “The economic loss associated with this disaster should be largely recovered in the second half of 2011.”

Solid investment in Alberta’s energy-related sector is the key driver of economic growth at play in the province, added the report. Oil and gas producers are slated to spend more than $24 billion this year, an 18 per cent increase over 2010.

“Continued strength in energy-related sectors will support a slight acceleration in economic growth to 3.9 per cent in 2012, maintaining Alberta’s status as a growth powerhouse,” said Wright. “This has had a positive impact on employment, as more than 77,000 jobs were added to the Alberta economy in the first eight months of this year, which was the strongest gain ever recorded over this period in the province.”

© Copyright (c) The Calgary Herald

Canada’s jobless rate falls to lowest level in two years

this is more great news.

By Julian Beltrame, The Canadian Press

OTTAWA – Canada’s unemployment rate fell to its lowest in more than two years as a combination of more self-employed workers and fewer job seekers in May pushed the key economic marker down to 7.4 per cent.

Statistics Canada said 22,300 new jobs were created last month, slightly above consensus estimates following April’s strong 58,000 jobs gain. The last time Canada’s unemployment rate was as low as 7.4 per cent was in January 2009, a few months after the economy had plunged into recession.

The finer details of the May report were less impressive, however.

The jobless rate dropped two-tenths of a point due as much to the fact that 27,500 fewer Canadians were actively looking for work as to the new jobs created.

While all the jobs were full time, they came in the less desirable self-employment category, which could indicate that many Canadians turned to creating their own employment because they were unable to find more traditional work.

“Small business is of vital importance to the Canadian economy, but job creation within this category in a soft spot for the economy (and) is always a knock against the quality of the headline gain,” Derek Holt, vice-president of economics for Scotiabank, said in a note to clients.

The number of employees in Canada actually dropped by 7,500 in May and the goods producing sector of the economy saw a pullback in employment, with manufacturing taking the biggest hit with 22,500 fewer jobs. The month also showed the public sector is starting to tighten, shedding 44,300 jobs as governments begin dealing with large deficits.

The markets treated the report as a status quo finding. The loonie barely budged after the data was released early Friday, although the currency swooned in later trading on dipping oil prices.

Holt noted that hours worked rose just 0.3 per cent and wages were only 2.2 per cent higher than last year, down from 2.6 per cent in March.

“After stripping out inflation, real wages are going nowhere and that remains bearish for consumer spending as households are simply unable to post income growth beyond covering higher fuel and grocery costs in a generalized commodity shock,” he said.

Still, analysts said any job gain following April’s strong advance is good news. It showed April was not a mirage.

“The details in this month’s job growth were not all rosy, but any gains at all were impressive given that they came on the heels of an outsized 58,000 prior-month tally and amidst signs that the economy is decelerating sharply in the second quarter,” said CIBC chief economist Avery Shenfeld .

Not to be overlooked, he added, is that private sector employers added workers, although a small number.

Another positive for the future, said Jimmy Jean of Desjardins Capital Markets, is that the factory sector is likely to recover once supply chain disruptions from the Japanese natural disaster are resolved.

The summer months will also benefit from an additional $10 million Ottawa is pumping into the summer jobs program to encourage student hiring. Labour Minister Diane Finley says government support will create 36,000 student jobs this summer.

Most economists had predicted a slowdown in job creation not only because they viewed April’s increase as an above-trend anomaly but also because other economic indicators pointed to slowing activity.

Meanwhile, consumer spending and housing have fallen off of late and, earlier in the week, the government reported that the important export sector shrank by 1.1 per cent in volume terms in April.

Despite the softness, Canada’s economy is doing far better than its southern neighbour, which in the same month created only 54,000 jobs, a tiny amount given the size of the U.S. labour force.

In the past year, Canada has more than recouped all the jobs lost during the 2008-2009 recession, creating 273,000 in the last 12 months alone, most full time and in the private sector. Meanwhile, the U.S. remains several million shy of its pre-crisis level and the jobless rate is above nine per cent.

In May, most of Canada’s employment gains came in the retail and wholesale trade industries, and in information, culture and recreation. There were losses in manufacturing and educational services, mostly of those in post-secondary institutions.

Regionally, the lion’s share of job creation came in Quebec, which saw its employment rise by 24,800, while Ontario saw a drop-off of 16,100.

Canada in middle of growth spurt, to lead G7 in first half of 2011: OECD

Canada is like the average student in the poor class, not the brilliant student in an average class. But, as Charlie Sheen says, “winning!”

By The Associated Press

OTTAWA – A leading international think-tank says Canada will lead its peers in the G7 in economic growth during the first half of this year. The Organization for Economic Co-operation and Development says the outlook for economic growth has brightened for all G7 countries, with the exception of Japan .

But the improvement has been most marked in Canada and to a lesser extent the United States.

“The outlook for growth today looks significantly better than it looked a few months back,” OECD chief economist Pier Carlo Padoan said in a statement.

“Growth perspectives are higher all across the OECD area, and the recovery is becoming self-sustained, which means there will be less need for fiscal or monetary policy support.”

Canada is now expected to grow by 5.2 per cent in the first quarter of 2011, and 3.8 per cent in the current second quarter.

Much of that growth has come from the resources sector in Western Canada and continued strength in the housing market in most parts of the country.

Germany is the next strongest economy, with growth rates of 3.7 and 2.3 per cent in the two quarters.

Overall, the Paris-based organization says the G7 economies excluding Japan are set to grow at an annual rate of about three per cent in the first half of 2011, well above the organization’s previous forecast.

The growth estimates given by the OECD are the middle of a range, meaning the rates could be slightly lower or higher.

The new forecasts exclude Japan because of the uncertainty over the full cost of damage from last month’s earthquake, tsunami and nuclear disaster.

The Canadian economy began the year with an impressive 0.5 per cent expansion in January that has set the stage for the strongest quarter in a year, according to Statistics Canada.

The performance was in line with market projections, but still was a mild surprise because many economists had worried of a possible payback after December’s equally robust 0.5 per cent gain in gross domestic product.

The strong back-to-back months put the economy on pace to grow by as much as 4.5 per cent in the first three months of the year, analysts have said. That’s two whole points more than the Bank of Canada’s now-dated estimate. At that growth rate, the pace of job creation should be high enough to continue pushing down the national unemployment rate, currently 7.8 per cent.

In the last year, the Canadian economy has created 322,000 jobs and has rebounded nicely from the 2008-2009 recession that battered the country’s manufacturing sector.

In some sectors of the economy, price pressures have been building, raising the prospect of higher interest rates down the road to fight inflationary pressures.

The next scheduled announcement on interest rates from the Bank of Canada is April 12, although the central bank isn’t expected to change its policy rate at that time from the current one per cent. Another announcement is scheduled for May 31, after the federal election.

Most economists believe Bank of Canada governor Mark Carney will leave a hike on the sidelines until July


This is great news.

TORONTO, Feb. 24 /CNW/ – Canada’s housing affordability continued to improve in the fourth quarter of 2010, thanks in part to slight decreases in five-year fixed mortgage rates and minimal home price appreciation across the country, according to the latest Housing Trends and Affordability report released today by RBC Economics Research.

“Some of the stress that had been building in the housing market between 2009 and the first half of 2010 has been relieved, but tensions persist overall and the recent improvement in affordability is likely to be short-lived,” said Robert Hogue, senior economist, RBC. “We expect that the Bank of Canada will resume its rate hike campaign this spring and with borrowing costs set to climb further in the next two years, housing affordability will erode across the country. That said, we don’t expect this to derail the housing market because of rising household income and job creation from the sustained economic recovery.”

The RBC Housing Affordability Measure captures the proportion of pre-tax household income needed to service the costs of owning a specified category of home. During the fourth quarter of 2010, measures at the national level fell between 0.4 and 0.8 percentage points across the housing types tracked by RBC (a decrease represents an improvement in affordability).

The detached bungalow benchmark measure eased by 0.8 of a percentage point to 39.9 per cent, the standard condominium measure declined by 0.4 of a percentage point to 27.6 per cent and the standard two-storey home decreased 0.4 percentage points to 46.0 per cent.

“We expect affordability measures will rise gradually in the next three years or so while monetary policy is readjusted, but will land softly thereafter once interest rates stabilize at higher levels,” added Hogue. “This pattern would be consistent with moderate yet sustained stress on Canada’s housing market. Overall, the era of rapid home price appreciation of the past 10 years has likely run its course and we believe that Canada has entered a period of very modest increases.”

A majority of provinces saw improvements in affordability in the fourth quarter, most notably in Alberta where falling home prices once again contributed to lower the bar for affording a home. Only the standard two-storey benchmark became less affordable in Ontario and Quebec, as did the standard condominium apartment in Quebec and the Atlantic region.

RBC’s Housing Affordability Measure for a detached bungalow in Canada’s largest cities is as follows: Vancouver 68.7 per cent (down 0.4 percentage points from the last quarter), Toronto 46.8 per cent (down 0.5 percentage points), Montreal 41.3 per cent (down 0.4 percentage points), Ottawa 38.7 per cent (up 0.5 percentage points), Calgary 34.9 per cent (down 3.1 percentage points) and Edmonton 31.0 per cent (down 2.4 percentage points).

The RBC Housing Affordability Measure, which has been compiled since 1985, is based on the costs of owning a detached bungalow, a reasonable property benchmark for the housing market in Canada. Alternative housing types are also presented including a standard two-storey home and a standard condominium. The higher the reading, the more costly it is to afford a home. For example, an affordability reading of 50 per cent means that homeownership costs, including mortgage payments, utilities and property taxes, take up 50 per cent of a typical household’s monthly pre-tax income.

Highlights from across Canada:

  • British Columbia: Buying a home in B.C. became slightly more affordable in the fourth quarter of 2010, due primarily to a small drop in mortgage rates. After experiencing some declines in the previous quarter, home prices rose modestly for most housing categories; condominium apartments bucked the trend, however, and depreciated slightly. Prices were supported by a tightening in market conditions with home resales picking up smartly following substantial cooling in the spring and summer that saw sellers lose their edge in setting property values. Demand and supply in the province are judged to be quite balanced at this point. RBC’s Affordability Measures fell between 0.8 and 1.0 percentage points in the fourth quarter which came on the heels of much more substantial drops (1.7 to 4.8 percentage points) in the third quarter. Notwithstanding these declines, affordability remains poor and will weigh on housing demand going forward.
  • Alberta: Alberta officially became the most affordable provincial market in the country in the fourth quarter, according to the RBC Measures which fell once again by 1.0 to 2.4 percentage points, extending their declines since late-2007. In addition to the lower mortgage rates, the further depreciation of home prices contributed to lowering homeownership costs. Property values were negatively affected by a substantial downswing in demand in the spring and early summer, which put buyers in the drivers’ seat. The significant improvement in affordability is near the end of its line, however, as demand has shown more vigour in recent months – alongside a provincial economy that is gaining more traction – and the market has become better balanced. RBC expects that this will stem price declines this year, thereby removing a potential offset to the negative effect of projected rise in interest rates on affordability.

Canadians Better Off, Even If They Don’t Feel It

Comment – Politics aside, we are coming off of the worst economic recession of our lifetimes. Numbers below show us back to where we were before the recession started. Governments debt loads are supposed to be high, government spending was supposed to kick in to keep us going – and it did.

Canadians Better Off, Even If They Don’t Feel It

John Ivison, National Post ·

Jan. 23 marks the fifth anniversary of Stephen Harper’s 2006 election victory and in early February, he will pass Lester B. Pearson’s time in office to become Canada’s 11th longest-serving prime minister. As Mr. Harper told Postmedia News this week, it has been a roller-coaster ride: “Some days it feels like five months, and other days it seems like 50 years.”

The five-year milestone has presented the Liberal leader, Michael Ignatieff, with his latest electoral gambit — to ask middle-class Canadian families whether they are better off after half a decade of the Harper government?

In fact, by almost every pocketbook metric, Canadian families are better off than they were five years ago –even if they don’t feel it.

The new strategy emerged from research carried out by the Liberals’ pollster, Michael Marzolini, as part of his firm Pollara’s annual nationwide poll of Canadians’ personal financial expectations. He found a new sense of caution and retrenchment, after optimistic expectations for 2010 were not met.

According to the Pollara poll, middle-class Canadians feel themselves under siege, with four in 10 claiming their incomes are failing to keep pace with the cost of living. They are anxious about their retirement, family debt and the value of their investments. Many Canadians believe every step forward they make is being hampered by assaults on their incomes such as new taxes and user fees. Ominously for the government, they appear less than impressed about claims Canada is doing better than its international competitors — the economy may be improving but they feel their own situation is not.

Mr. Ignatieff has leapt on the survey’s findings on his current 20-event, 11-ridings winter tour, making the claim that Canadians are worse off and the economy is weaker.

He is gambling that voters look at their own situation and calculate whether they have done well over the past five years. If the answer is yes, they will vote for the party they voted for before but, if not, he hopes they can be persuaded to switch.

Mr. Ignatieff’s central contention is that Canadians’ standard of living — as measured by GDP per person–has fallen 1.3% since the Harper government came to power.

The only problem with this for the Liberal leader is that it isn’t true — real GDP per capita did fall between 2005 and 2009, the trough of the recession, but has since recovered. If you annualize the first three quarters of 2010, the numbers show real GDP per capita is up

0.2% over the 2005 figure.

Other indicators are similarly positive.

Average hourly wages have outpaced inflation, especially for men, who now earn $4 an hour more than they did at the end of 2005.

The fiscal and monetary response to the recession has created one very real problem identified by Mr. Ignatieff — an extremely high level of indebtedness. Encouraged by cheap interest rates, Canadians now owe $1.50 for every dollar of disposable income, up from $1.08 in 2006.

Yet, national net worth per capita, which measures the health of assets like homes and investments, stood at a record high of $179,000 in the third quarter of 2010, up from $155,000 five years ago. Even at the bottom end of the socioeconomic ladder, the number of children living in low-income families fell by 250,000 between 2003 and 2008.

Retirement income is another leading concern raised by the Liberals but many more Canadians are now members of registered retirement plans than in 2005.

And the feeling that the tax burden is growing is also illusory, at least according to the Fraser Institute’s Tax Freedom Day, the day on which the average Canadian family has earned enough money to pay all taxes imposed on them by three layers of government. It advanced to June 5 in 2010, from June 23 in 2005.

These bald statistics don’t tell the whole story, of course. In the intervening years, there was a painful recession that saw unemployment spike at 8.7% in August 2009 (it is now sitting at 7.6%, still higher than the 6.8% in 2005).

Canadians remain anxious. According to Mr. Marzolini’s research, two-thirds of the population thinks we’re still in recession.

Yet, crucially, voters do not seem to blame the federal government, perhaps accepting that, if things are not noticeably better than they were five years ago, they could have been immeasurably worse.

Non-Conservatives can claim with some justification that the Harper government’s record of achievement is pretty penny ante when compared with other five-year-old administrations.

But the picture improves when you consider what didn’t happen. Mr. Harper is an incrementalist who agrees with Canada’s longest-serving prime minister, William Lyon Mackenzie King, that “it’s what we prevent, rather than what we do, that counts in government.”

The pressures of power have forced Mr. Harper, by his own admission, to make compromises he never thought he would have to make. “We spent the first three years of our government in a situation where people were saying, ‘Why don’t you take more risks? Why don’t you make more grandiose commitments? Why don’t you have a bigger more ambitious agenda on anything?’ And then all of a sudden, we’re spending the next two years dealing with a crash in the global economy and trying to operate a situation where we’re trying to protect what everybody has. So things just change constantly and you do have to be adaptable,” he told Postmedia’s Mark Kennedy this week.

There appears to be some appreciation that the Conservatives have provided solid, if stolid, government through the recession.

An Ipsos Reid poll before Christmas suggested six in 10 Canadians believe the political process is operating well and there is no need for an election. They may not vote Conservative, but they are not so disgruntled they are demanding change — at least not to the extent they have coalesced around Mr. Ignatieff or any of the other opposition leaders. This bodes well for Mr. Harper, sincegovernmentstraditionally find themselves in real trouble when the time-for-change number rises above 60%.

“Every election comes down to that — continuity or change,” said Darrell Bricker, president of Ipsos Public Affairs. “Mr. Ignatieff is trying to increase the desire for change that is a pre-condition [for a Liberal government]. But Canadians are not overwhelmingly concerned about the economy and even if they become more concerned, his opponent is leading him on the issue by 20 points.”

The Liberals insist that stress about the future has created enough volatility to give them a fighting chance. “Perceived reality is often a self-fulfilling prophesy,” said Mr. Marzolini, the Liberal pollster, as he unveiled his New Year’s poll to the Economic Club of Canada.

Mr. Ignatieff had best hope so, otherwise Mr. Harper will pass both R.B. Bennett (five years and 77 days) and John Diefenbaker (five years and 305 days) to become Canada’s ninth-longest serving prime minister before the end of this year.

Alberta tops North America in employment growth!

Alberta tops North America in employment growth, study finds

Saskatchewan now third says new study

Western Canadian provinces recorded the best performing labour markets in Canada between 2005 and 2009, led by Alberta and Saskatchewan, according to a new study released today by the Fraser Institute.

The report said Alberta topped all provinces and American states, in the ranking reported in Measuring Labour Markets in Canada and the United States: 2010 Edition. The province recorded the highest level of employment growth over the five-year span that was measured, along with high levels of employment growth in the private sector and low durations of unemployment.

Saskatchewan recorded the second-best performing labour market in Canada and third overall in North America, an improvement from its eighth place ranking in last year’s report. British Columbia is ranked third in Canada, sixth in North America, with Manitoba ranking fourth in Canada and eighth overall. Both provinces moved up in the 2010 report from ninth and 21st in North America respectively.

“There’s a clear delineation in the labour market performance of the western provinces compared to Eastern Canada. Over the five years studied, western Canadian provinces are among the best performers in key areas of employment growth, private sector job creation, unemployment rate, low durations of unemployment, and high labour productivity,” said Niels Veldhuis, Fraser Institute vice president of Canadian policy research and co-author of the study, in a news release.

New Brunswick had the highest ranking of the remaining provinces, 27th overall, followed by Ontario (31st), Nova Scotia and Prince Edward Island (tied at 39th), Quebec at 43rd, with Newfoundland and Labrador the lowest ranked province at 49th.Alaska was the top ranked American state, second overall behind only Alberta. Other states ranked in the top 13 (which includes five jurisdictions tied for ninth) are: Wyoming and Utah (tied at fourth overall), Texas (sixth), and Washington, South Dakota, North Dakota, Colorado, and Arizona all tied for ninth place overall.