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Study suggests forever renters, Parliament on summer break : In The News for June 23

In The News is a roundup of stories from The Canadian Press designed to kickstart your day. Here is what's on the radar of our editors for the morning of June 23 ... What we are watching in Canada ...
A house that sold for more than the listing price in West-end Toronto, Sunday, April 24, 2022. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Graeme Roy

In The News is a roundup of stories from The Canadian Press designed to kickstart your day. Here is what's on the radar of our editors for the morning of June 23 ...

What we are watching in Canada ...

A new survey finds almost half of Canadian who rent will continue to do so indefinitely and aren't sure when they'll be able to get into the housing market.

Renters surveyed by insurance firm Canada Life cited a lack of cash, fear and uncertainty as reasons for staying on the sidelines, with almost 73 per cent saying it's a bad time to buy a house and 17 per cent saying they'll never buy one.

While 79 per cent of respondents believe home ownership is a good investment, 64 per cent don't think they'll be able to buy a house unless they have financial support from others like family members.

The survey also finds that Canadians between 25 and 29 are two times more likely to continue renting indefinitely compared to those aged 30 to 49. 

Current homeowners are also feeling the pressure, with 24 per cent saying they feel house poor, the survey finds.

As the Bank of Canada continues to hike interest rates, homeowners could face even more pain as mortgage payments climb higher.


Also this ...

MPs will head off on the summer barbecue circuit today after a tumultuous spring sitting coloured by polarized politics and another Conservative leadership race.

But they venture off without worry of a summer of election preparations for the first time in four years, as the NDP-Liberal confidence and supply agreement leaves little risk the minority government will topple any time soon.

NDP Leader Jagmeet Singh says things have gone as he hoped — but he plans to push the government to do more to help inflation-weary Canadians.

Liberal MP Rob Oliphant says the agreement put some "spring" back into the step of Prime Minister Justin Trudeau, while setting the Conservatives adrift.

Conservative House Leader John Brassard says the deal changed the dynamics for his party, which suddenly found itself on the outside of many negotiations about Parliamentary proceedings.

Despite the stability, movement on Liberal bills is still slow. Just four new bills have passed since January so far. Another two may pass before MPs rise for the summer later today.


And this too ...

Despite progress in Canada in the field of transgender health care, for the more than 100,800 trans or non-binary Canadians, access to gender-affirming care comes with barriers and delays that vary by province.

Fae Johnstone, a trans activist and executive director of Wisdom2Action, a queer-owned consulting group working in transgender health, says that despite an improved national understanding of gender-affirming care, transgender health access seems to have “fallen entirely off the radars of most provincial and territorial governments.”

“We've got a patchwork system full of inconsistencies and a small set of phenomenal health-care providers who are going above and beyond to try to provide gender-affirming care,” she said in an interview Wednesday. 

Each province and territory has its own set of regulations to access hormonal or surgical treatment for people who are transgender — those whose gender is different than the sex they were assigned at birth — or for non-binary people, whose gender cannot be defined as male or female.

Johnstone says Yukon and British Columbia are among the best Canadian jurisdictions for access to gender-affirming care, while Ontario and Quebec are somewhere in the middle. Atlantic Canada and the Prairies, meanwhile, "tend to be further behind.”

In April, Statistics Canada reported that 100,815 Canadians aged 15 and older identify as transgender or non-binary — which represents 0.33 per cent of Canadians in that age group. Nova Scotia has the highest proportion of trans and non-binary people in the country, with one in 200 people 15 and older self-identifying as trans or non-binary.


What we are watching in the U.S. ...

DETROIT_ High gas prices have Wallace Reid looking for a new career.

Reid, who drives for Uber and Lyft in New York, fills up his Lexus at least three times a week. He pays around $95 each time, about double what he was paying last year. To make up for that, he's driving more often, but he's also applying for other jobs that wouldn't require his car.

"It's more hours, more stress,'' he said. "New York City is not an easy city to work and it's affecting our lives.''

Reid isn't alone. Millions of Americans who rely on their cars for work are changing their habits, signing up for carpools or even ditching their cars for bicycles as gas prices recently hit $5 per gallon for the first time ever. This week, it's averaging $4.95 per gallon countrywide, up from $3.06 per gallon a year ago, according to AAA.

Some help could be on the way. On Wednesday, U.S. President Joe Biden asked Congress to suspend federal gas taxes for three months, which would shave 18.4 cents per gallon off the price of gas. He also called on states to suspend their own gas taxes.

But in the meantime, gas is straining budgets.

Jill Chapman, a senior performance consultant with Insperity, a Texas-based human resources and recruitment company, said gas prices and commute lengths are increasingly a sticking point with job candidates. Chapman said companies may want to consider temporary bonuses, incentives for public transit or gas cards to help their employees.

"A business owner needs to acknowledge that there is stress associated with rising gas prices,'' Chapman said.


What we are watching in the rest of the world ...

BERLIN (AP) _ Germany activated the second phase of its three-stage emergency plan for natural gas supplies Thursday, saying the country faces a "crisis'' and warning that storage targets for the winter are at risk due to dwindling deliveries from Russia.

The government said the decision to raise the level to "alarm'' follows the cuts to Russian deliveries made since June 14 and the continued high market price for gas. The third and highest stage is the "emergency'' level.

It said that while gas storage facilities are currently filled to 58 per cent capacity _ higher than at this time last year _ the goal of reaching 90 per cent by December won't be achievable without further measures.

Economy Minister Robert Habeck said in a statement that "the situation is serious and winter will come.''

"The reduction in gas supplies is an economic attack on us by (Russian President Vladimir) Putin,'' he said. "We will defend ourselves against this. But our country is going to have to go down a stony path now.''

"Even if we can't feel it yet: we are in a gas crisis,'' Habeck added.

The government said it had informed European partners of the move in advance.


On this day in 1985 ...

Three-hundred and 29 people, including 280 Canadians, were killed when a bomb exploded aboard an Air India jet off the Irish coast. The flight had originated in Toronto and stopped at Montreal before heading to London and Bombay. Two men were eventually arrested and went on trial 20 years later but were acquitted after an investigation and prosecution that cost an estimated $130 million. Twenty-five years after the bombing, an inquiry headed by retired justice John Major concluded there was a "cascading series of errors'' by various agencies both before and after the bombing. Major said it could have been prevented and warned there were still holes in Canada's security systems.


In entertainment ...

Another classic children's tune from Sharon, Lois & Bram is getting the picture book treatment.

The Canadian trio's "One Elephant Went Out to Play'' is being turned into a book, three years after the adaptation of "Skinnamarink'' hit the bestseller's list.

The book is co-written by Sharon Hampson's daughter Randi Hampson, who joined her mother's performances after Lois Lilienstein died and Bram Morrison retired from touring.

The book is illustrated by Qin Leng, who also worked on " Skinnamarink.''

The story follows a variety of jungle creatures and costume-clad kids who gather on a magical spider web.

It's set to be released by Tundra Books on Aug. 9.


Did you see this?

OTTAWA _ The House of Commons passed the Liberal government's "extreme intoxication'' bill Wednesday after agreeing Tuesday to rush its passage.

The Senate can now move at any time to follow a similar process and pass Bill C-28 at all stages by way of a unanimous motion.

But during a committee of the whole Tuesday evening to study the substance of the bill, several senators raised serious concerns with Justice Minister David Lametti, expressing uncertainty about their willingness to rubber-stamp it without further scrutiny.

The bill would amend the Criminal Code to create criminal liability in cases of violent crime where the offender can prove they were "in a state of negligent self-induced extreme intoxication.''

The new language would replace a similar provision that the Supreme Court struck down as unconstitutional in May.

In its motion passing the bill, the House agreed to stipulate that its justice committee would study its implementation in depth this fall, a move that Lametti said is available to senators, too.


This report by The Canadian Press was first published June 23, 2022.

The Canadian Press

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