Weekly Digest -17th November 2023
Welcome to our Weekly Digest – stay in the know with some recent news updates relevant to business and the economy.
2 Million Homeowners at Risk of ‘Interest Rate Surprise’ in Next 2 Years, Warns CMHC
The Canada Mortgage and Housing Corp. (CMHC) has raised concerns about the impact of rising interest rates on mortgage borrowers in Canada. As interest rates climb, borrowers facing mortgage renewals may experience significant increases in their monthly payments, potentially straining their budgets. The CMHC’s biannual report highlights the need for careful financial planning, urging homeowners to assess their ability to manage higher mortgage costs and explore options like refinancing or renegotiating terms with lenders.
The report also underscores broader implications for the Canadian housing market, including reduced affordability and a potential slowdown in the real estate sector. Experts advise borrowers to exercise caution, seek professional guidance, and utilize available resources to navigate the challenges posed by rising interest rates and safeguard their financial stability in an uncertain housing market.
Affordability Crunch Sparks Anticipation for Freeland’s Nov. 21 Fall Economic Statement
Finance Minister Chrystia Freeland is set to deliver a highly anticipated fall economic statement addressing the pressing economic challenges facing Canadians, such as high interest rates and rising living costs. This statement aims to provide insights into the nation’s economic status and propose strategic measures to alleviate hardships, empowering individuals and organizations to make informed decisions.
Recognizing the ongoing economic difficulties exacerbated by the pandemic, Minister Freeland’s commitment to the well-being of Canadians remains unwavering. The update will foster transparency by analyzing the country’s fiscal health, with a specific focus on addressing high interest rates and the cost of living. It will propose solutions to reduce borrowing costs, increase access to affordable credit, and introduce measures to lower essential goods and services’ costs, ultimately enhancing the standard of living for Canadians.
Downtowns in Peril: Business Group Urges Pandemic Loan Repayment Extension
Kate Fenske, Chair of the International Downtown Association Canada, passionately calls for Federal action to support struggling downtowns across Canada. She emphasizes the urgent need for the government to grant businesses additional time to repay federally-backed pandemic loans, recognizing the crucial role government intervention plays in revitalizing these urban centers during the ongoing global pandemic.
Fenske believes that extending the repayment period for these loans is essential for businesses’ recovery. While the loans have provided much-needed financial relief, the current repayment timeline poses a significant challenge for many enterprises, hindering their ability to fully bounce back. With an extended repayment period, Ottawa can ease the burden on businesses, allowing them the necessary breathing space to regain stability and execute sustainable recovery plans. This collaborative effort between government and businesses is vital to safeguard the economic, social, and cultural vitality of downtowns across Canada.
Adapting to Soaring Interest Rates: Navigating the New Normal
Senior Deputy Governor Carolyn Rogers recently addressed the increasing likelihood of interest rates stabilizing at higher levels than Canadians are used to. She urged both individuals and businesses to prepare proactively for this change. Rogers discussed the factors driving this potential increase in interest rates, which include the changing economic landscape and the global recovery from the pandemic. Central banks, she noted, might need to raise interest rates gradually to ensure economic stability, control inflation, and promote sustainable growth. This could lead to a new norm of higher interest rates than what Canadians have experienced in recent years.
Rogers emphasized the importance of understanding and preparing for the implications of these higher interest rates. For individuals, this means reassessing financial commitments to ensure they can manage increased borrowing costs. Households should consider their debt levels, mortgage affordability, and the overall impact on their personal finances. For businesses, particularly those with significant debt, early preparation is crucial. The rise in interest rates could lead to increased borrowing costs, affecting profitability and growth. Rogers advised businesses to analyze the potential impact of higher interest rates on their operations, develop contingency plans, and consider strategies to mitigate risks.
Challenges Confronting Canadian SMEs: Boosting Innovation and Productivity
Canadian small- and medium-sized enterprises (SMEs) face significant challenges in terms of innovation and productivity, as revealed in the latest report by Desjardins Economics. This study underscores the obstacles hindering SMEs from investing in new technologies, hampering their growth and competitiveness. One primary barrier is the limited access to capital, making it difficult for SMEs to allocate funds for innovative technology adoption, thereby restricting their ability to keep up with technologically advanced competitors.
Another major hurdle identified in the report is the shortage of skilled labor. Rapid technological advancements require a workforce with the expertise to effectively operate and leverage new technologies. However, the scarcity of skilled professionals capable of adapting to these changes poses a significant challenge for SMEs striving to enhance productivity through technological innovations. Additionally, the report highlights the lack of awareness among Canadian SMEs regarding the benefits of investing in new technologies. Many businesses are unaware of the potential advantages, such as streamlined processes and improved efficiency, which innovative solutions can offer. This lack of awareness leads to reluctance to invest in new technologies, further impeding their ability to innovate and remain competitive in the market. Regulatory barriers are also mentioned as a hindrance, with complex regulations and compliance requirements posing challenges for smaller businesses with limited resources and discouraging them from pursuing innovative solutions.
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