Weekly Business Update – 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 report highlighted the concerning trend of rising interest rates and its potential impact on mortgage borrowers in Canada. The Canada Mortgage and Housing Corp. (CMHC), the country’s housing agency, sounded the alarm bells, cautioning homeowners about an impending “shock” when it comes time to renew their mortgages. As part of its biannual analysis of the residential mortgage market, the CMHC unveiled the distressing reality that higher interest rates were beginning to exert pressure on certain homeowners. This revelation has raised concerns about the financial stability of borrowers and the overall health of the housing market.
With interest rates on the rise, borrowers who are due to renew their mortgages may face a significant increase in their monthly payments. This surge in costs could potentially strain their budgets, leading to financial hardships for many Canadians. The CMHC’s report serves as a wake-up call, highlighting the need for careful financial planning and preparation to mitigate the potential shock that borrowers may face. The report underscores the importance of homeowners evaluating their current financial situation and reassessing their ability to manage higher mortgage payments. It also emphasizes the significance of exploring alternative options, such as refinancing or negotiating new terms with lenders, to alleviate the burden of rising interest rates.
The CMHC’s findings shed light on the broader implications for the housing market in Canada. As homeowners grapple with the impact of higher interest rates, there is a potential for decreased housing affordability and a slowdown in the real estate sector. This scenario could have far-reaching consequences, impacting not only borrowers but also the overall economy and the stability of financial institutions. In response to the report, industry experts are urging borrowers to exercise caution and prudence in their mortgage decisions. They stress the importance of seeking professional advice and exploring all available resources to navigate the challenges posed by rising interest rates effectively.
As the CMHC’s biannual report sounds the alarm on the mounting pressure faced by mortgage borrowers in Canada, it serves as a reminder that proactive measures must be taken to address the potential shock of renewing mortgages. By taking appropriate steps towards financial preparedness and seeking guidance, homeowners can hopefully mitigate the impact of higher interest rates and safeguard their financial well-being in the face of an uncertain housing market.
Affordability Crunch Sparks Anticipation for Freeland’s Nov. 21 Fall Economic Statement
The federal government has recognized the urgent need to tackle the economic challenges facing Canadians and has announced an upcoming update on the country’s finances later this month. Finance Minister Chrystia Freeland, known for her expertise and dedication to public welfare, will deliver the highly anticipated fall economic statement. This statement aims to provide insights into the current state of the nation’s economy and propose strategic measures to alleviate the hardships faced by citizens amidst high interest rates and rising living costs.
With a strong commitment to ensuring the well-being and prosperity of Canadians, Minister Freeland’s announcement comes at a crucial time. Many individuals and families across the country are grappling with economic difficulties exacerbated by the ongoing pandemic. As the government strives to offer comprehensive support, this fall economic statement will serve as a beacon of hope, offering a roadmap towards economic stability and resilience.
The upcoming update will include a comprehensive analysis of the nation’s fiscal health, taking into account current economic indicators, trends, and projections. Minister Freeland aims to foster transparency and ensure that Canadians are well-informed about their country’s economic state. This will empower individuals, businesses, and organizations to make informed decisions and navigate the economic landscape confidently.
The fall economic statement will address concerns about high interest rates, which have increased borrowing costs and limited access to affordable credit for Canadians. The government aims to explore potential solutions to alleviate this strain, implementing targeted measures and initiatives to ensure fair and accessible credit for Canadians. Additionally, the statement will focus on addressing the cost of living concerns, proposing measures to reduce the financial burden on individuals and families, including strategies to lower the cost of essential goods and services, enhance social programs, and invest in sustainable economic growth to improve the standard of living for all Canadians.
Adapting to Soaring Interest Rates: Navigating the New Normal
Senior Deputy Governor Carolyn Rogers recently addressed a crucial concern for Canadians: the prospect of interest rates stabilizing at higher levels than they are accustomed to. She emphasized the need for proactive preparation by individuals and businesses alike.
Rogers highlighted the factors contributing to this potential rise in interest rates, such as the evolving economic landscape and the global recovery from the pandemic. Central banks may find it necessary to gradually increase interest rates to maintain economic stability, curb inflation, and ensure sustainable growth. Rogers explained that this adjustment could establish a new norm where interest rates settle at higher levels than Canadians have experienced in recent years.
To cope with this potential shift, Rogers stressed the importance of understanding the implications of higher interest rates and making informed plans. Individuals should assess their financial commitments and ensure they can handle increased borrowing costs comfortably. Households are encouraged to evaluate their debt burdens, mortgage affordability, and potential impacts on their personal finances.
Rogers emphasized early preparation for businesses, especially those with substantial debt. Rising interest rates may lead to higher borrowing costs, potentially impacting profitability and growth. Businesses are advised to analyze the consequences of higher interest rates on their operations, create contingency plans, and explore risk mitigation strategies.
Digital ID: Value, Concerns, and Adoption Challenges Explored by Experts
The statement made by industry heavyweights at the EXCITE fall summit emphasized the validity and significance of people’s concerns regarding privacy and security when it comes to the concept of a digital government. These concerns should not be overlooked or dismissed but rather acknowledged and addressed appropriately. Both public and private sector technologists must take into account whether they are effectively communicating the right message, particularly in relation to digital identity, and if they are adequately showcasing all the advantages and benefits associated with a digital government.
In today’s technologically advanced world, where governments are increasingly embracing digital transformation, it is imperative to recognize the apprehensions and anxieties individuals have regarding the potential risks to their privacy and security. These concerns should not be taken lightly, as they play a crucial role in shaping public opinion and acceptance of a digital government.
Public and private sector technologists must engage in introspection and assess whether they are effectively conveying the benefits of a digital government. It is not sufficient to simply implement digital solutions without adequately informing and educating the public about the advantages they bring. By comprehensively illustrating the positive aspects, such as streamlined services, enhanced accessibility, and improved efficiency, technologists can alleviate public apprehensions and foster trust in the digital government framework.
The topic of digital identity holds immense importance in the context of a digital government. Technologists should make a concerted effort to ensure that the public understands the robust safeguards and protocols in place to protect their personal information. Emphasizing the secure nature of digital identities and the measures taken to prevent unauthorized access can help assuage privacy concerns and build confidence in the digital government ecosystem.
Downtowns in Peril: Business Group Urges Pandemic Loan Repayment Extension
Kate Fenske, the esteemed chair of the International Downtown Association Canada, passionately emphasizes the urgent need for Federal action to breathe life back into the struggling downtowns across Canada. Recognizing the paramount importance of government intervention, Fenske ardently calls upon Ottawa to extend a helping hand to businesses by granting them additional time to repay the federally-backed pandemic loans. With downtowns grappling with the monumental challenges posed by the ongoing global pandemic, Fenske asserts that the revitalization of these vital urban centers necessitates a comprehensive and concerted effort from all levels of government.
The resuscitation process demands a strategic and well-coordinated approach, primarily driven by Federal support and initiatives. Fenske firmly believes that granting businesses more time to repay their federally-backed pandemic loans is a crucial step towards fostering their recovery. These loans, designed to provide financial relief during these unprecedented times, have undeniably helped businesses stay afloat amidst the tumultuous economic landscape.
However, the burden of repayment within the existing timeframe has become an overwhelming challenge for many enterprises, hindering their ability to fully recuperate and reestablish themselves as vibrant contributors to the downtown ecosystem. By extending the repayment period, Ottawa can alleviate the mounting pressure on businesses and allow them the breathing space required to regain stability.
This additional time will enable enterprises to meticulously strategize and execute their recovery plans, ensuring a more sustainable and enduring revival of the downtowns. Fenske’s plea for Federal action underscores the critical role government plays in reinvigorating the heart of Canadian cities. Downtowns, once teeming with life and vitality, now face myriad obstacles that necessitate bold and decisive action. A collaborative effort between all stakeholders is imperative to safeguard the economic, social, and cultural fabric of our nation’s downtowns.
Changing Shopper Habits Drive E-commerce Brands to Brick-and-Mortar Stores
Canadian brands that experienced significant growth in the online realm during the pandemic are now recognizing the importance of transitioning to in-person interactions. While online shopping offered convenience and accessibility, these brands understand the value of establishing a physical presence to connect with customers on a more personal level. They aim to bridge the gap between the virtual and physical worlds, forging stronger connections and deeper loyalty among their customer base.
To adapt to evolving consumer preferences, these innovative brands are either opening brick-and-mortar stores or partnering with existing retail spaces. This move not only enhances visibility but also allows customers to interact with their products firsthand, offering a unique and tactile shopping experience. Moreover, physical stores provide an advantage in building trust, as customers can engage with knowledgeable staff, ask questions, and receive personalized recommendations, fostering authenticity and transparency.
However, this transition to in-person interactions does not signify the abandonment of the digital realm. Instead, it represents a strategic multi-channel approach that caters to diverse customer needs and preferences. These brands continue to invest in their e-commerce platforms to ensure a seamless and integrated shopping experience across channels. In this new era of retail, Canadian brands are embracing the “phygital” concept by blending physical and digital experiences, allowing them to remain adaptable and thrive in an ever-changing market landscape.
Challenges Confronting Canadian SMEs: Boosting Innovation and Productivity
The latest report by Desjardins Economics has revealed a concerning trend for Canadian small- and medium-sized enterprises (SMEs), as they find themselves lagging behind in terms of innovation and productivity. The study highlights the numerous obstacles these businesses encounter when attempting to invest in new technologies, hindering their progress and growth. The report suggests that the lack of access to capital is one of the primary barriers faced by SMEs in Canada. Limited financial resources make it challenging for these businesses to allocate funds towards acquiring and implementing innovative technologies.
This financial constraint restricts their ability to stay competitive in an evolving market, as more technologically advanced companies gain an edge. The report identifies a shortage of skilled labor as another significant hurdle faced by SMEs. The rapid advancement of technology necessitates a workforce equipped with the necessary expertise to operate and leverage new technologies effectively.
However, the scarcity of skilled professionals capable of adapting to these changes poses a substantial challenge for SMEs seeking to enhance their productivity through technological advancements. The study also highlights the lack of awareness and understanding of the benefits associated with investing in new technologies among Canadian SMEs. Many businesses are unaware of the potential advantages that innovative solutions can bring, such as streamlined processes, increased efficiency, and improved customer experiences.
This lack of awareness leads to a reluctance to invest in new technologies, further impeding their ability to innovate and remain competitive. The report points out regulatory barriers that hinder SMEs’ ability to adopt new technologies. Complex regulations and compliance requirements often pose significant challenges for smaller businesses with limited resources. Navigating these regulatory frameworks can be time-consuming and costly, discouraging SMEs from pursuing innovative solutions and hindering their progress.
Manufacturers Call for Government Action on New Challenges
Manufacturers across Canada are sounding the alarm on a multitude of pressing issues, as highlighted in a recent report by Canadian Manufacturers & Exporters (CME). These concerns encompass a national housing crisis, the impact of climate change policies, ongoing labor and skills shortages, subdued investment, sluggish productivity, and eroding competitiveness. One of the prominent challenges is the nationwide housing crisis, which has far-reaching implications for manufacturers and their workforce.
Escalating housing costs can make it increasingly difficult for employees to find affordable accommodation, affecting both recruitment and retention efforts for businesses. Climate change policies also weigh heavily on the minds of manufacturers. As environmental regulations tighten, companies must navigate a changing landscape that necessitates sustainable practices and investments in green technologies. Adapting to these policies presents both challenges and opportunities for manufacturers.
Persistent labor and skills shortages have been an ongoing issue for the manufacturing sector in Canada. The struggle to find and retain skilled workers hinders growth and innovation in the industry. Addressing this shortage remains a top priority for manufacturers.
The report highlights concerns about weak investment, sluggish productivity, and declining competitiveness. These factors, when combined, pose a threat to the long-term viability and growth of the manufacturing sector in Canada. In the face of these challenges, manufacturers are calling for strategic actions and support from government and industry stakeholders to ensure a vibrant and resilient manufacturing sector that can contribute to Canada’s economic prosperity.
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