COVID-19 Industry Update June 11, 2020

Federal Update

Federal Government Announces Small Business Hotline

The Honourable Mary Ng, Minister of Small Business, Export Promotion and International Trade, announced recently that the Government of Canada will support the launch of a four-week hotline service called the Business Resilience Service. This service will help entrepreneurs and small business owners in need of financial planning advice, particularly those who may not have access to an accountant. The service will also be open to not-for-profit organizations and charities.

The hotline is a national, bilingual service operated by the Canadian Chamber of Commerce. As of today, small business owners with pressing financial needs can call 1 (866) 989-1080 (toll-free) seven days a week, from 8 AM to 8 PM (ET).

To help small businesses get through this crisis and take steps towards reopening, the Government of Canada has introduced a wide range of supports to help businesses retain their employees, keep their costs low and pay their operating expenses.

The smallest businesses may face the additional challenge of accessing tailored financial planning advice to help them survive this difficult period.

Business advisors—125 members of Chartered Professional Accountants Canada (CPA Canada)—will be available to provide customized financial guidance to the smallest business owners in the most urgent need and help them make the best decisions for their business as they navigate this crisis. Advisors can answer questions about tax regulations and the implications of COVID-19, inform business owners about government support programs that best fit their unique circumstances, and provide strategic financial planning for their road to recovery.


Provincial Update

Ontario Plan for Sectoral COVID-19 Testing includes Construction

If you work in construction, consider getting tested for COVID-19. Visit your nearest assessment centre or contact your primary care provider, or call TeleHealth Ontario at 1 (866) 797-0000 for more information.

The Ontario government announced a multi-phased “enhanced plan” for COVID-19 testing on May 29 that includes expanded testing of primary populations such as long-term-care workers and first responders, and then “Targeted Campaign” testing of secondary populations. Among those secondary targets there is a list of what are called essential workplaces, that includes construction.

The plan includes testing, “aggressive” tracking and tracing of contacts and “population surveillance” to provide ongoing evidence on which to base future policy.

Mobile testing units could be sent to job sites with advanced notice and testing of workers for the virus would be undertaken. The swabs would be taken to one of the province’s 20 labs where results would ideally be learned within 24 hours and relayed to the subjects.

The province now has 131 assessment centres in place and over 20 labs.  


CHBA Update

CMHC Changes to Mortgage Securitization Rules for CMHC-Insured Mortgages

Canada Mortgage and Housing Corporation takes more steps to restrict Canadians’ access to home ownership. On June 4, 2020, CMHC announced changes to mortgage securitization rules for CMHC-insured mortgages. These changes will have a negative affect on the market, as CMHC looks to reduce risk in its portfolio. CHBA has recommended against such measures constantly and is actively speaking out against the change. CHBA is also actively engaged with the responsible Minister’s offices on the issue.

This measure only applies to CMHC and as such, Canada’s private mortgage insurers, Genworth and Canada Guaranty, are not directly affected. Early indications seem to suggest that the private insurers will not follow in lockstep with these changes, particularly around debt service ratios, but each are currently determining their specific response. As we await more details, it does appear this will result in additional competition and a shift in market share away from CMHC over to private insurers.

The timing of this change, which will limit new buyers getting into the market at a time when the economy is looking towards investment, is being criticized. CMHC’s mortgage insurance business historically pumps billions of dollars annually into federal coffers to support other programming, and its backstop program is supposed to be there in times of trouble. This decision at this time will instead prevent many well-qualified Canadians from becoming homeowners—Canadians who still have well-paying jobs and should be able to buy homes as part of their financial futures and as contributors to economic activity.  It will also dampen the role that residential construction should play in terms of job creation in a robust economic recovery.

As CMHC moves to limit access to homeownership and reduce the size of its portfolio, the question now becomes what the government will do with its policy levers to support recovery in the housing sector.  

Effective July 1, CMHC will:

  • Limit the Gross/Total Debt Servicing (GDS/TDS) ratios to their standard requirements of 35/42, where previously they had allowed flexibility;
  • Establish minimum credit score of 680 for at least one borrower; and
  • Stop accepting non-traditional sources of down payment that increase indebtedness (credit cards, unsecured lines of credit, personal loans, for example).

CHBA has taken action in response to this move by CMHC. Key movement includes: media statement in opposition and raising concerns over impacts on the market, calling for immediate implementation of changes to the qualifying benchmark rate (stress test) that was planned for April 2020, contacting the offices of the Minister of Finance, Minister responsible for CMHC, and Minister responsible for Housing, submission of formal letters of opposition to CMHC and, maintaining engagement with Genworth.

CHBA’S 2020 National Awards for Housing Excellence Virtual Gala is this Friday, June 12th!

It’s showtime! Tune into the virtual awards gala this Friday at 3 PM EST to celebrate our industry with both the Association Leadership Awards, and the CHBA National Awards for Housing Excellence, sponsored by Avid Ratings Canada. The show will be hosted by CHBA President John Meinen and CHBA CEO Kevin Lee, with guest appearances along the way!

3 Reasons to Get Excited

  1. See images from all finalists, winners, and — for the first time (and maybe last time) ever — runners up!
  2. Find out which HBAs and Members are awarded the Association Leadership Awards
  3. Celebrate our industry with your teammates

How to Watch the Virtual Gala 

The link to the virtual gala experience will be posted on the awards page of the CHBA website today or Friday morning. Your second screen experience is on Twitter: follow @CHBANational and use the hashtag #chbahousingawards.

CHBA hopes to see you there this Friday, June 12th @ 3 PM EST on YouTube Premiere and Twitter!


OHBA Update

Renovator Guide to Operate During COVID-19

As a result of the COVID-19 Pandemic, the Ontario Home Builders’ Association has developed this Guide to help Renovator Members adapt their Health and Safety protocol and procedures. The document was created by a working group of OHBA Renovator Members and it will soon be available on the OHBA website as well for all members to access at any time.


IHSA Update

Government Portal to Assist Businesses find PPE

As businesses re-open, it is important that you review sector-specific guidelines to identify the need for personal protective equipment (PPE) and supplies to keep your employees, contractors, visitors and customers safe. Supplies are in high demand and the needs of frontline health care workers and first responders will continue to be prioritized. 

The Ontario government has created a web page which allows businesses to quickly identify if they can sell medical supplies, find personal protective equipment (PPE), solve problems, or volunteer to help protect against COVID-19. 

Click here to access the Portal to find PPE.

Visit the IHSA Website to find sector specific COVID-19 guidelines and resources.


City of Burlington Update

Taking a Closer Look at the Downtown Update |

Release of Reports and Recommended Modifications to Adopted Official Plan

The “Taking a Closer Look at the Downtown” (Scoped Re-examination of the Adopted Official Plan) project team has released recommended modifications to the downtown policies in the Adopted Official Plan. These policies are intended to guide development in downtown Burlington to the year 2031.

The recommendations are outlined in:

  • Recommended modifications to Downtown policies and mapping;
  • Staff report (PL-16-20);
  • Final report by planning consultants SGL Planning & Design;
  • Technical studies that were completed as part of the Re-examination project.

These documents are available on the Taking a Closer Look at the Downtown project page on the City’s Get Involved website.

The recommended policy modifications come from a re-examination of the downtown policies in the new Official Plan that Council adopted in 2018.

Next Steps

July 2020: The City will share two more documents: 

  • Financial Impact Analysis concerning the recommended policy modifications, and
  • Draft Downtown Burlington Placemaking and Urban Design Guidelines for public review.

Aug. 28, 2020: Deadline to submit comments on these documents so the project team has time to consider the feedback in advance of the Sept. 30 Committee meeting. 

Sept. 2020: The project team will release an additional appendix to the Staff Report PL-16-20 that was published in June. This appendix will provide project updates and a response to all feedback that was received prior to Aug. 28. 

Sept. 30, 2020: City Council will consider all reports at a public meeting of the Community Planning, Regulation, and Mobility Committee on Sept. 30. This meeting will include a presentation from City staff and the project consultants. The public will have a chance to delegate. 

Oct. 7, 2020: Council will consider the Sept. 30 recommendations at a Special Council meeting on Oct. 7. Council will decide whether to endorse the recommended policy modifications and submit them to Halton Region for inclusion in the Region’s approval of the new Official Plan that Council adopted in Apr. 2018. 

If you have any feedback or comment to make on these policies, please get in touch with Kirstin Jensen at at your earliest convenience.


Save the Dates!

WE HBA Trivia Night

June 17 | 7:00 PM

Get a drink & grab a snack. Wear your best costume & be eligible for a prize!

Classic Trivia | Entertainment, Sports, History, Science & Geography

Participation is limited | Video use is encouraged!

Click here to register!


Special AGM

with CHBA CEO Kevin Lee & OHBA CEO Joe Vaccaro

June 22 | 10:00 AM


Burlington City Manager

Tim Commisso

June 29 | 3:00 PM