News   GLOBAL  |  Apr 02, 2020
 5.6K     0 
News   GLOBAL  |  Apr 01, 2020
 28K     0 
News   GLOBAL  |  Apr 01, 2020
 2.7K     0 

Northern Light

Superstar
Member Bio
Joined
May 20, 2007
Messages
19,585
Reaction score
45,846
Not strictly Toronto related, but the Ontario government is running a survey on how to increase housing affordability across the province: https://www.ontario.ca/page/consultation-housing-affordability

I'm not sure I've high hopes here (part of me thinks that they'll take the simplest approach and simply force municipalities to open up more whitebelt for development) but, it's important to try make one's voice heard and advocate for more density and walkable neighbourhoods across the province.

Please fill the survey out! It's only open till Jan 13!

Filled out!

I suggested the following:

a) As-of-right for anything up to a 4-plex anywhere residential is otherwise permitted.
b) As-of-right purpose-built-rental anywhere residential is permitted.
c) As-of-right for 4-storeys on all arterial roads, in major urban centres, where residential is otherwise permitted.
d) Abolish parking minimums province-wide
e) Reduce the number of foreign students in Ontario to historically normative levels ( - 20,000) over 4 years, to free up 10,000-20,000 units of housing stock; and increase college/university funding accordingly.
Offer colleges/unis the right to maintain higher foreign enrollment IF, they construct sufficient housing for all enrollees, and fully recover the cost through said student's fees.
f) Consider loan guarantees for all purpose-built rental projects, which reduce their debt-servicing costs, in exchange for a set number of units being offered at below market rents.
g) Consider limiting the practice of bulk-buying condo units pre-construction by capping the number any one person/company may purchase.
 
Last edited:

Ottawan

Senior Member
Member Bio
Joined
Jan 28, 2014
Messages
1,498
Reaction score
5,303
Filled out!

I suggested the following:

a) As-of-right for anything up to a 4-plex anywhere residential is otherwise permitted.
b) As-of-right purpose-built-rental anywhere residential is permitted.
c) As-of-right for 4-storeys on all arterial roads, in major urban centres, where residential is otherwise permitted.
d) Abolish parking minimums province-wide
e) Reduce the number of foreign students in Ontario to historically normative levels ( - 20,000) over 4 years, to free up 10,000-20,000 units of housing stock; and increase college/university funding accordingly.
Offer colleges/unis the right to maintain higher foreign enrollment IF, they construct sufficient housing for all enrollees, and fully recover the cost through said student's fees.
f) Consider loan guarantees for all purpose-built rental projects, which reduce their debt-servicing costs, in exchange for a set number of units being offered at below market rents.
g) Consider limiting the practice of bulk-buying condo units pre-construction by capping the number any one person/company may purchase.
I agree with all of your suggestions except the portion pertaining to foreign students. To me, they are undoubtedly a net benefit to Ontario, and if anything their numbers should be increased. I think, based on this post and others made by you in the sprawl thread, this is a rare case where you and I do not see eye to eye.

The problem is not the students themselves, but the lack of appropriate student housing built to accommodate them. There is also to some degree a mismatch between the programs accepting students and the sectors of the economy that need them, but that is also something that could be fixed with effort.

Foreign students provide immigration access to Canada for individuals who will already be partway towards acclimatising to life in Canada by the time they graduate. Immigration is important given our demographic trends of aging population, and bringing people in right around the age where they are ready to enter the labour force is extremely efficient.

Yes, many foreign students return to their home countries after graduation, but this is not a problem either. There is an aspect of self-selection where those who enjoy living in Canada and are set up to succeed here are most likely to remain.

In the meantime, the injection to our economy by foreign students while in Canada is far from negligible. It is not only housing, but many aspects of the consumer-demand side of the economy that they prop up. It is also worth noting that many of them are propping up that economy in smaller centres (Sudbury, Guelph, Peterborough, Kingston, St. Catharines, Windsor) since our universities are so well distributed.

Foreign students do not just include undergraduates that subsidize our university tuition, either, but graduate students that are key drivers of research. Their presence is a net benefit to the quality of research done at our universities. This in turn feeds into R & D that leads to a more innovative economy.

I also think Canada could take on a greater number of refugees as a rich nation, but that is for another discussion...

We have not been accomodating population growth in a sustainable manner, and finding our way there is an extremely important policy goal, one which ought to be a focus of the zoning reform discussed in this thread. However, I do not agree that immigration or population growth itself ought to be slowed.
 

christiesplits

Active Member
Member Bio
Joined
Jul 20, 2021
Messages
274
Reaction score
370
e) Reduce the number of foreign students in Ontario to historically normative levels ( - 20,000) over 4 years, to free up 10,000-20,000 units of housing stock; and increase college/university funding accordingly.
Offer colleges/unis the right to maintain higher foreign enrollment IF, they construct sufficient housing for all enrollees, and fully recover the cost through said student's fees.
I think is is a fair policy plank, but I feel it could be weaponized by reactionary political elements like the Bernier and Rebel types.
 

evandyk

Senior Member
Member Bio
Joined
May 22, 2019
Messages
1,456
Reaction score
5,238
I think foreign students are a net benefit as well, but we do have to recognize that the number we admit plays a material role in our housing shortage. Mike Moffatt has plenty of numbers on this on his twitter feed and various articles he has written.
 

Northern Light

Superstar
Member Bio
Joined
May 20, 2007
Messages
19,585
Reaction score
45,846
I agree with all of your suggestions except the portion pertaining to foreign students. To me, they are undoubtedly a net benefit to Ontario, and if anything their numbers should be increased.

I don't think, when taken in the aggregate, this is true.

There's no question of the benefit certain grad students and students in professions bring, particularly areas like advanced STEM; assuming they stay on after graduation.
But there are lots of other foreign students here, in fact, the vast majority are in the Community College system, not the University system.

I think, based on this post and others made by you in the sprawl thread, this is a rare case where you and I do not see eye to eye.

Agree, please contribute further after reading my points; if you feel I have any fundamental facts wrong, I'd be happy to revisit my opinion.

The problem is not the students themselves, but the lack of appropriate student housing built to accommodate them. There is also to some degree a mismatch between the programs accepting students and the sectors of the economy that need them, but that is also something that could be fixed with effort.

We're taking on students to a great degree based on their willingness to pay, and ability to qualify, rather than on the utility of their future education and possible residence/career in Canada.
Foreign students are revenue augmentation for the lowest funded post-secondary system in Canada (per capita), which is Ontario's.

1640127827709.png

from: https://higheredstrategy.com/comparing-provincial-expenditures-on-post-secondary-education/

Foreign students provide immigration access to Canada for individuals who will already be partway towards acclimatising to life in Canada by the time they graduate. Immigration is important given our demographic trends of aging population, and bringing people in right around the age where they are ready to enter the labour force is extremely efficient.

This is true, subject to certain conditions:

1) That the skills they are obtaining are those our economy requires for the purposes of advancing productivity and per capita earnings. (often not the case)
2) That they stay; certainly a large portion of said students do remain, but many do not. I'm not sure if we've got good tracking data on average annual earnings etc. among those who do, that would be interesting to see.
3) That the benefit they produce outweighs two clear negatives: 1) Housing cost driver; 2) Wage suppression.

I think you'll find that the evidence is very strong that foreign students during their student years have a strongly negative impact on wages in entry-level jobs (as do Temporary Foreign Workers); that substantially increases poverty and inequality.

If you remove all that low-cost labour, the minimum wage sky rockets (politically or practically) by at least 1/3. Note that for all the racism and insensitive handling of immigration cutbacks in the U.S., the result has been completely outsized wage growth in entry level jobs like Starbuck's, Target, and other mass retailers. Wage growth is far exceeding inflation, even where there is no legislative action being taken, due to a labour shortage. That's excellent.

Not only does the reduce poverty and raise the standard of living; it also triggers investments in productivity. The latter is something we really lag at in Canada.

This is because its easier to employ cheaper labour than invest in automation and training.

This is not only true in entry level jobs.

Adjusted for currency, U.S. Tech workers earn up to 50% more than their Canadian counterparts. (median pay 100k vs 150k on a constant Canadian dollar basis).

This is spurring our growth in tech employment, but not in patents. We've getting a lot of the less advanced jobs which can be done cheaper here than in Silcon Valley.

Once again, relegated to branch plant status for the U.S.

1640128004768.png


1640128027177.png


The above taken from: https://nicholaspalichuk.medium.com...a-and-usa-for-software-engineers-40b1a91ac4de

Yes, many foreign students return to their home countries after graduation, but this is not a problem either. There is an aspect of self-selection where those who enjoy living in Canada and are set up to succeed here are most likely to remain.

This can be true; but I would argue that those leaving have not produced a net economic benefit during their time here, on a revenue to cost basis when factoring in negative housing costs and wage suppression.

Keep in mind, I'm not arguing for no foreign students, or a handful, I'm arguing for 30,000 in the GTA instead of the current 50,000, that would still be among the largest such numbers in the world.

In the meantime, the injection to our economy by foreign students while in Canada is far from negligible. It is not only housing, but many aspects of the consumer-demand side of the economy that they prop up. It is also worth noting that many of them are propping up that economy in smaller centres (Sudbury, Guelph, Peterborough, Kingston, St. Catharines, Windsor) since our universities are so well distributed.

In smaller markets, where the effect on housing is less pronounced, and less expensive to remedy the case is much better. I'm arguing only for cutting foreign student numbers where they are highest and have the most negative impact on housing and labour costs (GTA.)

We could, however, pick any of those markets and take a closer look at impacts and retention.

I happen to have the numbers of Windsor.........U Windsor has ~3,600 foreign students; and St. Clair College (including Chatham campus) has ~4,200
That includes both full-time and part-time.

If one were to examine closely what programs and capacities are available through those schools; one can quickly ascertain that the majority of students are not in Medicine, AI, Biochemistry, or advanced IT.
That's not a knock on those in other pursuits. Its a suggestion that where we may be short of top-tier RNs or Medical Specialists, foreign students in those disciplines (subject to our retention rates) may be a great benefit.

If, however, many are studying very basic IT, English, or Project Management the gains, if any, are more modest.

Foreign students do not just include undergraduates that subsidize our university tuition, either, but graduate students that are key drivers of research. Their presence is a net benefit to the quality of research done at our universities. This in turn feeds into R & D that leads to a more innovative economy.

Note that I agree w/this, but those types of students comprise a tiny minority of the foreign student population.

*****

I think it may be useful to add, I have a close friend who is a professor at a GTA community college; teaching in STEM fields.

The majority of their students are foreign students.

The fail rate is extremely high, English is often an extreme challenge, and many students don't attend physical classes or watch lectures when they are supposed to....
from the professor's experience, this is often because they are working full-time to cover the extremely expensive cost of their education and can't afford to actually take the time for class.
As a result the academic quality suffers badly.

That is not an inherent take against foreign students, but rather the real-world experience of faculty w/those we are attracting in certain fields; whom we are charging handsomely, but in the end probably doing neither them
nor the college in question any favours.

*****

Btw, I'm told this didn't used to be a problem, at least at this scale; because colleges were more picky about who they let in; and had fewer spots available. But as those students are now seen as a profit-centre
the colleges (and even some Unis) have been accused, by those same foreign students of misleading them on what skills were needed, or what things here cost or what they could earn in part-time/summer jobs.


While the students in question do act as a profit-centre for the schools in question; this happens by externalizing the costs of housing, and wage suppression to others.

****

Do you feel I got any of those facts wrong? If so we could look into that further. Though perhaps we might want to start a new thread, or such as I don't want to derail this one by going too far OT.
 
Last edited:

Northern Light

Superstar
Member Bio
Joined
May 20, 2007
Messages
19,585
Reaction score
45,846
I think is is a fair policy plank, but I feel it could be weaponized by reactionary political elements like the Bernier and Rebel types.

I have no time for the Bernier types.

I'm happy to support the idea of foreign students and large numbers of them, especially in targeted disciplines where Ontario faces a labour shortage, especially if those are above median paying jobs.

I don't wish to demonize anyone. I do think we need quick-wins to address our housing problem and we can reduce foreign student numbers far faster than we can build new housing for them.

The issue here is that the pace of growth has been extraordinary, that housing has not been built to keep pace with the growth, and that we're bringing in students, particularly at the community college level more for their revenue
than either what they can bring to Ontario/the college; or what Ontario or the college can do for them.
 
Last edited:

Ottawan

Senior Member
Member Bio
Joined
Jan 28, 2014
Messages
1,498
Reaction score
5,303
I don't think, when taken in the aggregate, this is true.

There's no question of the benefit certain grad students and students in professions bring, particularly areas like advanced STEM; assuming they stay on after graduation.
But there are lots of other foreign students here, in fact, the vast majority are in the Community College system, not the University system.



Agree, please contribute further after reading my points; if you feel I have any fundamental facts wrong, I'd be happy to revisit my opinion.



We're taking on students to a great degree based on their willingness to pay, and ability to qualify, rather than on the utility of their future education and possible residence/career in Canada.
Foreign students are revenue augmentation for the lowest funded post-secondary system in Canada (per capita), which is Ontario's.

View attachment 370910
from: https://higheredstrategy.com/comparing-provincial-expenditures-on-post-secondary-education/



This is true, subject to certain conditions:

1) That the skills they are obtaining are those our economy requires for the purposes of advancing productivity and per capita earnings. (often not the case)
2) That they stay; certainly a large portion of said students do remain, but many do not. I'm not sure if we've got good tracking data on average annual earnings etc. among those who do, that would be interesting to see.
3) That the benefit they produce outweighs two clear negatives: 1) Housing cost driver; 2) Wage suppression.

I think you'll find that the evidence is very strong that foreign students during their student years have a strongly negative impact on wages in entry-level jobs (as do Temporary Foreign Workers); that substantially increases poverty in inequality.

If you remove all that low-cost labour, the minimum wage sky rockets (politically or practically) by at least 1/3. Note that for all the racism and insensitive handling of immigration cutbacks in the U.S., the result has been completely outsized wage growth in entry level jobs like Starbuck's, Target, and other mass retailers. Wage growth is far exceeding inflation, even where there is no legislative action being taken, due to a labour shortage. That's excellent.

Not only does the reduce poverty and raise the standard of living; it also triggers investments in productivity. The latter is something we really lag at in Canada.

This is because its easier to employ cheaper labour than invest in automation and training.

This is not only true in entry level jobs.

Adjusted for currency, U.S. Tech workers earn up to 50% more than their Canadian counterparts. (median pay 100k vs 150k on a constant Canadian dollar basis).

This is spurring our growth in tech employment, but not in patents. We've getting a lot of the less advanced jobs which can be done cheaper here than in Silcon Valley.

Once again, relegated to branch plant status for the U.S.

View attachment 370911

View attachment 370912

The above taken from: https://nicholaspalichuk.medium.com...a-and-usa-for-software-engineers-40b1a91ac4de



This can be true; but I would argue that those leaving have not produced a net economic benefit during their time here, on a revenue to cost basis when factoring in negative housing costs and wage suppression.

Keep in mind, I'm not arguing for no foreign students, or a handful, I'm arguing for 30,000 in the GTA instead of the current 50,000, that would still be among the largest such numbers in the world.



In smaller markets, where the effect on housing is less pronounced, and less expensive to remedy the case is much better. I'm arguing only for cutting foreign student numbers where they are highest and have the most negative impact on housing and labour costs (GTA.

We could, however, pick any of those markets and take a closer look at impacts and retention.

I happen to have the numbers of Windsor.........U Windsor has ~3,600 foreign students; and St. Clair College (including Chatham campus) has ~4,200
That includes both full-time and part-time.

If one were to examine closely what programs and capacities are available through those schools; one can quickly ascertain that the majority of students are not in Medicine, AI, Biochemistry, or advanced IT.
That's not a knock on those in other pursuits. Its a suggestion that where we may be short of top-tier RNs or Medical Specialists, foreign students in those disciplines (subject to our retention rates) may be a great benefit.

If, however, many are studying very basic IT, English, or Project Management the gains, if any, are more modest.



Note that I agree w/this, but those types of students comprise a tiny minority of the foreign student population.

*****

I think it may be useful to add, I have a close friend who is a professor at a GTA community college; teaching in STEM fields.

The majority of their students are foreign students.

The fail rate is extremely high, English is often an extreme challenge, and many students don't attend physical classes or watch lectures when they are supposed to....
from the professor's experience, this is often because they are working full-time to cover the extremely expensive cost of their education and can't afford to actually take the time for class.
As a result the academic quality suffers badly.

That is not an inherent take against foreign students, but rather the real-world experience of faculty w/those we are attracting in certain fields; whom we are charging handsomely, but in the end probably doing neither them
nor the college in question any favours.

*****

Btw, I'm told this didn't used to be a problem, at least at this scale; because colleges were more picky about who they let in; and had fewer spots available. But as those students are now seen as a profit-centre
the colleges (and even some Unis) have been accused, by those same foreign students of misleading them on what skills were needed, or what things here cost or what they could earn in part-time/summer jobs.

While the students in question do act as a profit-centre for the schools in question; this happens by externalizing the costs of housing, and wage suppression to others.

****

Do you feel I got any of those facts wrong? If so we could look into that further. Though perhaps we might want to start a new thread, or such as I don't want to derail this one by going too far OT.
For now, this is TLDR for me. I will read it in time, though. That being said, I was not intending to open up a debate on the issue, just to express an opposing view so that readers do not see opposition to foreign students to be a monolithic view of the forum.

I have no doubt you have good reason for the position you take, it would be uncharacteristic for that not to be the case. But foreign students (and immigration writ large) will need to be a case where we agree to disagree.
 

allengeorge

Senior Member
Member Bio
Joined
Jun 27, 2019
Messages
1,353
Reaction score
3,223
I can tell you that the branch plant status of Canada and the lack of productivity have very little to do with cheap labour (indeed - there has historically been plenty of cheap, under-the-table labor in the US) and everything to do with the risk-aversion in Canada’s business class - and indeed Canadian society as a whole.

Canadian businesses and the government are far less likely to change procedures if they’re working, or invest in new ideas - unless they’ve been tried elsewhere. This, combined with Canada’s small population, 10 different business regimes, a fairly inexperienced management class and fairly shallow VC pool mean that anyone who wants to start a business would often be better advised to move down to the US.
 

Undead

Senior Member
Member Bio
Joined
Sep 3, 2020
Messages
2,294
Reaction score
5,515
Maybe I'm cynical, but to me international students always seemed like a source of cheap labour and tuition cash cows.
from the professor's experience, this is often because they are working full-time to cover the extremely expensive cost of their education and can't afford to actually take the time for class.
100% this from my experience having close international student friends.
The fail rate is extremely high, English is often an extreme challenge
Yes, with East Asian students; the Indians generally speak it well because former British colony.
profit-centre
the colleges (and even some Unis) have been accused
Again, bang on the mark. It's a cash grab by the colleges and unis.
 

Northern Light

Superstar
Member Bio
Joined
May 20, 2007
Messages
19,585
Reaction score
45,846
I can tell you that the branch plant status of Canada and the lack of productivity have very little to do with cheap labour

There are lots of other factors. But it is a big one in retail; and......I speak w/some expertise on that.

(indeed - there has historically been plenty of cheap, under-the-table labor in the US)

Very true, particularly in the agricultural space, personal services, and construction; and it shows.

This either shows up as comparably run service at a lower price; or less productivity (automation); I can tell you the Germans lay waste to the U.S. in productive construction based on my experience.

I see so much being done in novel ways not employed here or in the U.S.

The difference, the cost of labour. Period.

and everything to do with the risk-aversion in Canada’s business class - and indeed Canadian society as a whole.

Certainly partially true. A very involved conversation, because its something hard to measure and quantify. But no denying its a factor.

.....10 different business regimes,

Yes....though......there are 50 different states too; with unique labour laws, product specifications etc etc.

It is true than the Federal Commerce Clause in the U.S. and federal regulation of capital markets creates some simplification.

Sheer market size difference is also very relevant however.

That said, definitely room for improvement here in that regard.

But I want to emphasize as someone with some expertise in retail.............
The choice about whether to buy automated check-out, electronic (digital, wifi alterable) price tags, and automated commercial cleaners (think Roomba at a much larger, industrial scale) is very much determined by
the relative cost of the labour available to do that job now.

Zero question.

a fairly inexperienced management class

Not something I consider material per se, but your experience may vary.

and fairly shallow VC pool

Yes, though improving rapidly.

mean that anyone who wants to start a business would often be better advised to move down to the US.

I wouldn't go that far.

Canada is ranked as a more favourable environment to start a business than the U.S. in the aggregate in several international rankings.

However, there is a very notable difference when one grows from a small business to medium or large.

A different level of capital is required.

There the conservative nature of the Canadian investor class is a material challenge.

So, frankly, is the absence of large home-grown players in many sectors.

When you reach a certain point as a manufacturer, or a software developer etc etc.......

There are very few, if any Canadian-owned/based players above you.

So if you need additional capital, and/or the founders are simply content to exit.............to whom do you go? The obvious choice is the U.S. market where there will be, all other things being equal
9x the number of large players, all looking for an advantage over the other, and happy to place a bet on a smaller player in Canada, which they then absorb.

Changing this is complicated; and not fixable in every sector (a limit of relative population size).

That said, Sweden does a far better job of cultivating growing domestic corporate behemoths, and protecting them, all while offering a more robust welfare state.

But that is an active intervention of the Swedish State in many respects.

****

At any rate, we're digressing (at least partly my fault).

Perhaps we can get back to zoning? LOL
 

Northern Light

Superstar
Member Bio
Joined
May 20, 2007
Messages
19,585
Reaction score
45,846
And back to Zoning............with Vancouver making a move:


6 storey, purpose-built-rentals to be as-of-right on (many) major roads.

From the article:

1640167065609.png


* of note, this doesn't apply evenly across the City.........

1640167220972.png


The plan (according to staff) will likely facilitate development of 4,700 units over the next decade.

While Vancouver certainly needs more.......(and more is probably coming, notably with massive upzoning along the Broadway corridor where the Skytrain extension is going)....it still strikes as an important
incremental step.
 

Northern Light

Superstar
Member Bio
Joined
May 20, 2007
Messages
19,585
Reaction score
45,846
Article from The Star on on L.A.'s small-lot policy and how it might be used to intensify yellowbelt areas.

Currently paywalled


From said article:

The Blackbirds, a project designed by L.A. firm Bestor Architecture for developer LocalConstruct, is a residential community in Echo Park in central L.A.

It was built around 2011 on five lots totalling 0.82 acres that were combined. (Some of the lots were empty, there were a couple dilapidated homes on some lots and one lot had a small single-family home from the 1920s.)

To make room for the Blackbirds, the properties were divided to create lots for 18 houses — a mixture of duplexes and triplexes that from the exterior look like large single-family homes.
 

myself

New Member
Member Bio
Joined
Oct 29, 2021
Messages
62
Reaction score
251
Article from The Star on on L.A.'s small-lot policy and how it might be used to intensify yellowbelt areas.

Currently paywalled


From said article:
If anyone is interested in learning more about this project, I came across this recently.

 

Top