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April 2017

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Simple Mother’s Day ideas in Toronto 2017

Use this Mother’s Day to celebrate with your loved ones, whether it be your own mom, your children, or other friends and family. It doesn’t have to be a big affair — the most important thing is to make time for that special person in your life, that person that gave you hope and encouragement. If you happen to live in Toronto, there is a plethora of events you can choose from if you are looking for something to do that’s a bit outside the box. Whether your mother loves art or nature, history or salsa dancing, there is a little something for everyone to enjoy. Here are a few of our favourites at Women’s Post!

Georgia O’Keefe at the AGO:

What better way to celebrate the power of motherhood and women then to look at the stunning art of Georgia O’Keefe? She is a phenomenal artist and the AGO is hosting their largest ever exhibition with over 80 works on display. There is also a floral Georgia O’Keefe cocktail that will be offered at the Mother’s Day brunch at the FRANK restaurant on May 13th and 14th. (327 Dundas St. W.) The brunch itself is pretty expensive (and reservations only), but if you are just looking for an after-exhibit beverage and a cozy atmosphere, you should absolutely check it out.

Spadina Museum:

The historic Spadina Museum is beautiful and elegant, perfect for a classy mom date out on the town. The museum is putting on a special exhibit called “The Language of Flowers”. A portion of the event includes designing a floral ‘talking’ bouquet where each flower has a message hidden inside. This event requires registration, but is a simple way to enjoy the prettier things in life while learning about the history of Toronto. (285 Spadina Rd.)

Check out the cherry blossoms:

The cherry blossoms are in full bloom in Trinity Bellwoods and High Park, and everyone is flocking to see how beautiful they are. It is also the perfect location for family photos. The cherry blossoms only come out for a limited time and they are breathtaking to witness in full bloom. If you go to Trinity Bellwoods, there are a host of delicious brunch spots. Maybe check out Trinity Bellwoods Brews if your mother fancies a pint on her special day. There is also delicious vegan ice cream at Olenka’s, which never disappoints.

Mother’s Day Chocolate Tour: 

Almost every mom I know loves chocolate — it is a fact. Luckily, there is a chocolate tour that will lead you and your mother through a sweet and delectable experience. There is a chocolate demonstration and many samples will be provided on route. It’s also one of the more reasonably priced chocolate-themed events this May. This tour promises to be a delight, just make sure you don’t eat too much sugar! (443 King St. W.)

Mother’s Day Roncesvalles Food Tour:  

Keeping in the food theme, maybe try something a bit less sugar-laden. This Rocensvalle tour pairs delicious foods and neighbourhood history all into one fantastic afternoon. Roncesvalles is a hip and trendy part of Toronto, full of delectable eateries. At $30 a person, it’s a great opportunity to do something different with your mom, while still enjoying the food nooks in the area.

 

Happy Mother’s Day from Women’s Post!

What the 2017 Ontario budget is really saying

Thursday, the Ontario Liberal government released their 2017 budget and it was full of fun tidbits for families and seniors. Free prescription medicine for people under the age of 25, more child care spaces, and a discount on hydro bills — all seem to be a bit of a big giveaway considering this is a “balanced budget”.

The balanced budget, while claiming to be the first in a decade, still has an outstanding total debt of $332.4 billion. The Liberals are entrusting a lot of their financial success on the economy, or rather the fact that the GDP has increased over the last year. If the GDP drops on the next two years, and if the government doesn’t come up with new forms of revenue, there is little hope that a balanced budget will be maintained.

It was pretty obvious what the government was trying to do. This close to an election period, the Ontario Liberals are trying to woe back their core. The party has been doing poorly in the polls, and support for Premier Kathleen Wynne has plummeted. This budget was their last attempt to prove they are helping Ontario residents.

While there were some good things in the budget (it would be foolish to claim it was all bad), I have some big criticisms. The first is the new OHIP Plus. I love that it includes birth control, as most benefit plans don’t and it is a large expense for women. The program, which offers free prescription medications for children and young adults ages 24 and under, is the first of its kind in Canada. It’s an impressive program, but surprisingly the price tag was left out of the 294-page budget. The cost is about $465 million per year if you were wondering.

I also want to bring up the fact that OHIP Plus, while a good first step, doesn’t help a lot of people that desperately need health benefits. For example, most children are covered under their parent’s work plans, and when they go to university, they are offered decently priced and extensive coverage as part of their tuition. It’s the people 24-30 that need a plan like OHIP Plus — people who are stuck unemployed or working contract positions with no benefits and no money to purchase a private plan of their own.

It’s also important to note the New Democratic Party came out with a universal pharmacare program weeks before the budget was released that would have offered all Ontario residents certain free prescription medications. At time of publication, it’s unknown whether birth control would have been included in that plan.

While seniors received a public transit tax credit and low-income students received free tuition, there was one area in particular where the government was lacking support — transportation and infrastructure.

Toronto, in particular, was given just enough to appease the Mayor. The city got its short-term accommodation levy, but there was no extra money to be found to help fund transit projects or social housing. The province is instead touting past commitments to public infrastructure, including $190 billion over 13 years. This year, the province is only dedicating $56 billion to pre-existing projects or projects that are near completion. This includes GO RER, the Eglinton Crosstown, Hamilton Rapid Transit, and the Mississauga Transitway.

There was nothing but a small mention of “support” for the downtown relief line, despite Mayor John Tory’s insistence that the province contribute 40 per cent of the cost of the project.

The province also didn’t allot a lot of money for social housing, choosing instead to support retrofits on pre-existing affordable units. There is $2 billion earmarked for housing in the 2017 budget, but it’s meant to be spent in the next three years on a mixture of affordable housing projects, social housing, and anti-homelessness measures. There was no dedicated money for Toronto Community Housing, which is on its way to close 400 units over the next year.

All of this is a serious blow to Toronto, which is trying to grow in a sustainable way.

“Earlier this year, after the province refused to allow the City of Toronto the ability to raise funds for its own infrastructure priorities and ease the pressures our residents face, I made my expectations clear,” Tory said in a statement released after the budget.

“But the clarity that Toronto requires for its pressing social housing and transit needs has not been delivered today. The provincial government appears to have missed an opportunity to partner in the historic investments made by the federal government in much needed future transit expansion and repairs to our vital social housing.”

It’s clear the province isn’t looking to make friends with municipalities in this budget. Instead, the Ontario Liberals are going directly to the voters and pleading for their support, throwing out phrases like “balanced budget”, “promises” and “we can’t put a price tag on our children.”

Will this strategy work? What do you think?

To see more about the 2017 budget, go here.

2017 budget highlights include health care, no new transit

Thursday, the Ontario Liberal government put forward the first balanced budget in the last decade.

“This budget is fiscally responsible,” Ontario Minister of Finance Charles Sousa said to reporters in budget lockup, prior to the Throne Speech. “Balancing the budget allows us to make these important investments — investments that have real meaningful impacts in people’s lives.”

The 2017 Ontario Budget, entitled A Stronger, Healthier Ontario, is meant to spearhead a balanced budget for the next three years. The document focuses greatly on health care and education, while investing less in infrastructure and transit. There are some special tidbits for families, including a 35 per cent reduction on hydro bills for eligible households, free prescription medication for children and young adults, and funding for work-related opportunities through a new Career Kick-Start Strategy.

Sousa was adamant the budget did not have anything to do with the impending provincial election.

“Our message for the people of Ontario is that we, together, have balanced the budget, have taken the precautions of assumed growth, and now we are taking the necessary steps moving forward,” he said. “We want to be competitive long term. These decisions we make today are not based on election times. They are based on long-term benefit for the people of Ontario.”

It’s important to note that despite the balanced budget, there still exists a projected total debt of $332.4 billion as of March 31, 2017.

Here are some of the highlights from the 2017 provincial budget:

Health care

The biggest announcements in the 2017 Ontario Budget was the Child and Youth Pharmacare benefit program, which will provide free prescription medications for everyone ages 24 and under — also called OHIP Plus. The coverage includes rare disease medications, cancer drugs, medication for diabetes, asthma, mental health, HIV, and birth control. The new OHIP program will be effective as of Jan. 1, 2018.

The cost of this program, which was left out of the budgetary documents and press releases, is $465 million annually.

Ontario will also expand access to safe abortion by providing publicly funding the new abortion pill Mifegymiso.

Other investments include:

  • $9 billion over 10 years to support construction of new “hospital projects” across the province
  • $518 million to provide a three per cent to help decrease wait times and maintain elective surgeries, among other hospital services.
  • $15 million for primary care and OHIP-funded non-physician specialized health services
  • $74 million over three years for mental health services, including supportive housing units and structures psychotherapy

Transportation

The provincial government, while making significant investments in health care and education, chose to maintain investments on pre-existing projects rather then provide new funding for further transit networks like the downtown relief line.

In addition to the province’s continual $190 billion investment over a 13-year period, which started in 2014, Ontario is investing an additional $56 billion in public transportation for the GO Network and other pre-existing infrastructure projects like the Eglinton Crosstown, Hamilton Rapid Transit, and the Mississauga Transitway.

The budget indicates the province will continue to “support for the planning of the Downtown Relief Line in Toronto”, but no further funding was made available. Currently, Ontario has offered $150 million for the planning of this integral transit project.

Instead, the province is standing firm in their contributions via the gas tax program, which promises to double the municipal shares from two to four cents per litre by 2021.

Other transit projects receiving funding include:

  • $1 billion for the second stage of the Ottawa LRT
  • $43 million for proposed transit hub in downtown Kitchener, which will connect to GO and Via Rail.

Housing

The province introduced their Fair Housing Plan, which is meant to help increase affordability for buyers and renters. The cost of housing has increased up to 33.2 per cent since 2016. Ontario has proposed a non-resident speculation tax to help cool the market. This will be a 15 per cent tax on the price of homes for non-Canadians, non-permanent residents, and foreign corporations. If passed, this tax would be effective as of April 21, 2017. Ontario has also committed to improving rent control in Ontario to include units occupied on or after Nov. 1, 1991.

Toronto Mayor John Tory may not have been given the right to toll the DVP and Gardiner Expressway, but the provincial government has permitted the city to implement a levy on “transient accommodations”. This will allow Toronto to tax hotels and short-term accommodations in order to generate much-needed revenue for infrastructure in the city.

The authority to implement such a tax will also be extended to all “single-tier and lower-tier municipalities”, with the understanding that 50 per cent of the funds accumulated from the levy be given to the municipality’s regional tourism organization.

An amendment to the City of Toronto Act will have to be approved before such a levy becomes a reality.

Other investments include:

  • $200 million over three years to improve access for up to 6,000 families and individuals to housing assistance and services
  • $125 million over five years for multi-residential rebates to help encourage development
  • $70-100 million for a pilot project throughout GTHA to leverage land assets to build affordable housing
  • Proposed amendment of legislation that would grant Toronto authority to add a levy to property tax on vacant homes.
  • Frozen municipal property taxes for multi-residential properties where taxes are high

Child Care

Ontario will support an access to licensed childcare for an additional 24,000 children ages four and under. The $200 million in funding allotted to this project for 2017-18 includes a mix of subsidies and the creation of physical spaces for childcare.

In fall of 2016, Ontario spent $65.5 million to create 3,400 licensed childcare spaces.

Climate Change

This year’s budget didn’t put as much of an emphasis on the province’s environmental efforts. Through the cap and trade program, the government has accumulated $472 million in funding that must be re-invested into programs that will reduce greenhouse gas emissions. This specific funding was from Ontario’s first carbon auction in March.

Through these auctions, Ontario expects to raise $1.8 billion in 2017-18 and then $1.4 billion annually following that year. Examples of where this money can be spent include promoting electric vehicles, modernizing transit, preserving lands, enhancing research, and Green Investment Fund initiatives.

Other investments include:

  • $377 million through the Green Ontario Fund to make it easier for households and businesses to adopt proven low-carbon technologies.
  • $200 million in funding for schools to improve energy efficiency and install renewable energy technologies
  • $85 million to support additional retrofits in social housing
  • $50 million in commuter cycling infrastructure like cycling lanes and barriers
  • $22 million in electric vehicle charging infrastructure

 

More to come.

Rail deck park is still on the table, but how to fund it?

Rail Deck Park is still on the table for Toronto, as the city debates whether the one billion dollar price tag on the 21-acre park is plausible.

Toronto Chief Planner Jennifer Keesmaat moderated an urban planning symposium, held by the Urban Land Institute Toronto (ULI) Tuesday, that discussed the implementation strategy for the controversial park project. In the fall of 2016, the city announced they would prepare a strategy to build a park between Bathurst St. to Blue Jays Way. The Rail Deck would use airspace above the railyard in downtown Toronto and close up a gap that divides the downtown area and makes it less walkable.

The park is controversial because it is incredibly expensive to build, estimated at one billion dollars as a starting point. That price tag doesn’t include the cost of purchasing the air rights over the rail deck, which is a necessity. A developer has already signed an agreement for air rights over the space and isn’t willing to go down without a fight. The city will have to work hard to obtain the space to create a park in downtown Toronto. It is a worthwhile venture though. It would be one of the city’s last chances to create a large green space downtown as open space becomes increasingly rare.

According to a November Forum Research Poll of Toronto residents, 51 per cent of respondents supported the proposed park and 38 per cent opposed it. Not surprisingly, 46 per cent of respondents felt that the space should not be paid for with public dollars. Though there are several issues remaining on how to budget the rail deck park, Keesmaat has confirmed there is already $350 million invested from developers that is earmarked for public space.

The Rail Deck Park is an ambitious, but worthwhile project. Green space in the downtown area promotes healthy tourism and is relatively simple to upkeep. It also provides Torontonians with more outdoor space, and a carbon sink in the middle of an area full of pollution. Hopefully, the rail deck park can become Mayor Tory’s legacy, and it will be enjoyed for generations to come. Until then, it will be interesting see if the funding can be found.

Women of the Week: Amy Terrill

The heart of a city is music. It’s the illustrious sounds of a trumpet spilling out a bar through an open door or the busker who plays electric guitar on a street corner.

Executive Vice President of Music Canada, Amy Terrill, deeply believes in the benefits of music and it is her job to lead several programs that help music thrive at a municipal, provincial and federal level. She is focused on pushing forward projects that support musicians and artists, spread awareness regarding copyright laws, and help facilitate the relationship between music and government relations. “Communications and government relations are my two areas of expertise,” Terrill says. And she is definitely the woman for the job.

At the moment, Music Canada is working on making Toronto a ‘music city’. “We compared Toronto to Austin, because there is a lot of amazing music activity there and Toronto is certainly the music hub of English Canadian music,” Terrill says. “It is where the labels are and thousands of artists. Many of our agents and managers and a big nexus for music in Canada.”

Terrill didn’t begin her career in music. “It is funny because when I was in high school, I actually intended to go into music and was dissuaded. I took a different route, and ended up in music after all,” Terrill says. From Lindsay, Ont. originally, Terrill completed her political science degree at Queen’s University and worked for eight and a half years in the media, primarily in television.

“I worked in news reporting, and produced and anchored as well in Peterborough. I was able to move up the ranks and then I moved into the chamber of commerce in Lindsay and later to the Ontario Chamber of Commerce,” Terrill says. She also received the Burnie Gillespie Memorial Award for excellence in Chamber leadership and was previously the Director of the Unison Benevolent Fund that provides emergency relief and counselling services in Canada.

“I came to know my current boss, Graham Henderson, through the [Ontario Chamber of Commerce]. He is a very supportive and influential figure. He was on the board of the Ontario Chamber and now he is the chair. He offered me an opportunity to come and work with him,” Terrill says. “He saw an opportunity for Music Canada to broaden our look. Before we had been focused on federal issues, but Graham wanted to see what else was happening and how we could play a bigger role.”

Amy Terrill is the host and curator for the Music Cities summit at Canadian Music Week. This portion of the conference was focused on current issues that cities are facing within the music sector.  The summit was based on ‘Mastering of the Music City’, which is a global report written by Music Canada that compares the music scene in 25 different cities. The framework is now being used across the world.

When Terrill isn’t working she enjoys canoeing and kayaking. “I have an annual white water canoeing trip I do with a bunch of women I know,” Terrill says. “We go on a different river every year in Ontario.” She also enjoys cross-country skiing and yoga, and being with her two kids.

Terrill also believes that helping women, young and old, is essential to success. “I have so many interesting colleagues and supporters, sometimes it is just about honouring and respecting them and being there for them in return,” Terrill says. “I try and be a good role model to people within my network. We have quite a few younger people who work with us as well. I have always had younger women working with me. It is important to provide a strong role model.”

Terrill has led a successful career in music and proves that it is possible to support music and make effective change in the Canadian art scene. “Music is what makes a city so vibrant. We all have a responsibility to remind people of that. There is often an opposition with noise complaints,” Terrill says. “If you care about music in the community, speak up and tell your councillors how important it is to you.”

 

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Saudi Arabia elected to UN Commission on the Status of Women

It’s no joke.

Saudi Arabia has been elected to the United Nations Commission on the Status of Women.

Again, this is not a joke.

Agencies around the world are criticizing the UN’s decision, for obvious reasons. Saudi Arabia, a country where women are subjects of male family members; where women must adhere to strict dress codes and are prohibited from driving; where women cannot interact with men they are not related to for fear of being beaten, imprisoned in their own home, and sometimes even killed, is now being celebrated as one of the 44 countries elected to the Commission on the Status of Women last week. To be clear, this commission has the following goals: “promoting women’s rights, documenting the reality of women’s lives throughout the world, and shaping global standards on gender equality and the empowerment of women.”

According to UN Watch’s executive director, Hillel Neuer, “Electing Saudi Arabia to protect women’s rights is like making an arsonist into the town fire chief.”

Saudi Arabia has been adamantly trying to change the world’s perception of their gendered laws. In March, the country held its first women’s empowerment conference. It was led by Princess Lamia bint Majed al Saud, who insists that women in her country are misunderstood and that Saudi Arabia has made significant progress in respect to breaking down gender barriers. A Girls Council, which is meant to promote the welfare of girls and women in Saudi Arabia” was established in March as well. It was being led by 13 men. The Princess is the chair of the council, but could not appear at the launch due to gender laws. She and other women were video-conferenced in.

While it may be true that some (and I stress some) progress has been made, it doesn’t make up for the violence Saudi women face on a daily basis. It doesn’t make up for the fact that Saudi Arabia is ranked 134 out of 145 countries for gender parity in 2015. And it absolutely doesn’t make up for the lack of rights and freedoms these women enjoy (or rather don’t).

And yet, Saudi Arabia is now representing the rights and empowerment of women worldwide. Is anyone else having a problem following this decision?

I’m not sure what the UN was thinking, but this isn’t the first time the United Nations Commission for the Status of Women has screwed up. Last year, they tried to name a fictional character as their ambassador. Because that’s all women need — to aspire to be something that isn’t real and to follow the example of a misogynist state.

Well done.

What’s the deal with the unicorn trend?

Google “unicorn” and hundreds of thousands of things will pop up. Everything from the trendy Starbucks frappucchino to brightly coloured hairstyles. It’s verging on the ridiculous and I, for one, don’t really understand the appeal.

What’s with this obsession with unicorns? First of all, in most lore, unicorns are majestic and rare creatures. They have a pearly white skin tone and a long, luscious mane. Most mythology attributes the unicorn as a symbol of purity. In these stories (and throughout modern film), the unicorn becomes a metaphor for magic and uniqueness. A person is described as a unicorn if their personality is quirky and different from those of their peers — a rarity among a society of conforming sheep.

Unicorn: unique, rare, mysterious, and impossible to find.

And yet, here we are in 2017, quite literally mass producing this idea. If there was a need to re-define irony, it would be called “the unicorn.” We have icy cold drinks, hairstyles, makeup lines, clothing, movies, and television shows. There are books, comics, phone cases, water bottles, and even nail art!

Now, I’m not saying we should ban the unicorn. Quite the opposite! As children, fantasizing about mythical and magical creatures is a big part of growing up. I think young adults should constantly be questioning reality and searching for the impossible. I also like the idea of using a unicorn to represent individuality. Young people are constantly searching for something to relate to, something to symbolize them! Using a unicorn as a blanket representation for individual thought and uniqueness is fine, but, the unicorn of 2017 is doesn’t quite measure up.

This unicorn, the one that is trending all over the Internet, is a mad concoction of cartoonish pink and blue. It’s not majestic or pure or rare — it’s just everywhere! The unicorn has become a fad, consumed for high-prices and Instagram likes. It’s become the theme of athletic races and a weird trend during concerts. It’s no longer about originality. It’s no longer about fantastical creatures and adventures. It’s no longer about standing out in a crowd.

It’s about money and social media fame.

The Starbucks unicorn frappucchino was the latest insane venture from the unicorn fan club. Admittedly, I did not purchase one, but was curious enough to ask a few friends what it tastes like. The verdict? It was supposed to taste like mango and blue raspberry, but instead tasted a bit like expired birthday cake. Not terrible, but not delicious either. I don’t regret not purchasing one, even if my description for this article is a bit lax. Most people didn’t enjoy it a whole lot, but they took lots of selfies with it. It looked cool! And it was “unicorn-themed” — so they bought it. Now that the limited-time drink is gone (all the baristas are saying ‘thank god’), I think it’s time to remind the public about the original unicorn. The one that didn’t look like a clown threw up.

Can we all just admit that it’s okay to be different. It’s okay to be a unicorn among a crowd. And we don’t need a specialized drink, hairstyle, or nail polish to believe it?

 

What do you think of the unicorn fad? Have you tried the frozen treat? Let us know in the comments below!

Ringing in the spring with adorable crafts

Spring is here and what better way to ring in the new season then to make decorative themed crafts with the kids. While Spring is known for its dreary, rainy weather, it doesn’t mean the family can’t have fun. Spring-themed, DIY projects are trending across the internet, and Women’s Post has helped you sort through Pinterest. Here are five craft-ideas that are sure to keep your kids entertained, and dress up your house for the flower-season.

A Bird House

Building bird houses can be done in so many different ways, but using a hammer and nails is a fantastic opportunity to teach kids (and brush up on your skills) of rudimentary carpentry. Simply get six pieces of evenly squared ply-wood and ensure one side has a door. Then use the hammer and nails to create a box and voila! You will have a state-of-the-art bird box. Make sure to get paint that is made for wood surfaces so that you can decorate your bird feeder with vibrant colours.

If you are not comfortable allowing your kids (or yourself) to use a hammer, head to a nearby craft store and purchase a pre-made box to decorate. Don’t forget to pick up some seeds so that the birds are enticed to hang out in your backyard!


Homemade wind chimes
There are many ways to make a homemade wind chime, but one of the easiest versions uses materials found in your own backyard — a stick. Lay the stick flat and tie a series of strings around it with three quarters of the string hanging down. Thread beads, wooden toggles, and other noise-making materials from the strings. Make sure they are different colours and feel free to add a bell or two for that nice ringing sound. Tie up the ends of the string and make the pieces different lengths for more visual interest. Tie another string to the stick in order to hang the wind-chime. Be sure to put it outside or in a window so you can hear it clanging away.


Planters in jars 
If there are any glass jars left over from winter preservatives, a way to re-use and recycle is to use the old jars as planters. Simply buy a bag of soil and seeds that can grow in small planters indoors (herbs like basel, thyme, or lavender) and plant away. Try to find a variety of herbs or coloured indoor plants for a beautiful visual effect. Place the jars by a window in your kitchen or living room so they have access to sunlight. These planter jars can brighten any home and give your house a fresh spring look.

Painted rocks

Painting rocks is a simple and enjoyable family activity, and doesn’t require a lot of planning or materials. Simply go to a nearby beach and collect a series of rocks with a flat surface to paint. Use acrylics to paint the rock. There are several animal templates online to for cute rock animal, but be creative! These rocks can be used in the backyard as stepping stones or simple decoration when leaned against a wall.

Paper flowers

The classics! For paper flowers, gather a few different colours of tissue paper and pipe cleaners. Pile the tissue neatly one on top of the other and fold them together to make an accordion. Once the accordion is completely folded into one lengthwise fold, wrap pipe cleaners one third down the tissue to make three parts. Cut above the pipe cleaner. Fan out the tissue around the pipe cleaner and fluff the paper up to make a beautiful paper flower. Place it in a vase (no water) decorated with paint and paper.

 

What are your favourite spring crafts? Let us know in the comments below! 

Will Ontario’s new housing regulations do anything of value?

Ontario is cracking down on the red hot housing market by introducing a series of incentives that will, hopefully, control inflating real estate in the Golden Horseshoe region.

The province plans to bring in a series of 10 different initiatives to help placate the housing and rental markets — but the proposed regulations are a mixed bag. The non-resident speculation tax (NRST) is the primary regulation the Ontario Liberals hope to pass and the plan has immediately fallen under criticism. NRST would tax individuals that are not citizens or permanent residents of Canada 15 per cent when they purchase a home. The tax would apply to transfers of land, including “single family residences, detached homes and condos”. It would not apply to residential apartment buildings. This tax is similar to the foreign buyer’s tax in Vancouver, but differs because it would allow people to refund the tax if they obtained permanent residency within four years of living in the home.

NRST is one of the less impactful initiatives announced Thursday morning because it only applies to foreign buyers and doesn’t adequately represent most of the buying market in Toronto. Blaming foreign buyers for the problems of a mostly localized Canadian real estate market echoes the xenophobic tendencies seen lately in the United States, and won’t help the housing sector in a large or meaningful way. Why not instead implement a vacancy tax so that local homeowners, including foreign buyers, wouldn’t be allowed to keep their homes empty? This would directly respond to the desperate need for housing in the city.

Luckily, one of the other initiatives does leave room for municipalities throughout the province to enact a vacancy tax if they so wish. This puts the onus on each individual city to make the decision, which is either an avoidance tactic or a way to appease a heightening tension between Canada’s largest city and the province. The province will also crackdown on assignment clauses, which allows a buyer to pass on the right to another person to buy a property, and is a ‘scalping’ strategy to avoid taxes.

In the renting sector, the province will allow rent control again, which was banned in 1991. This will prohibit landlords from raising rent by more then 2.5 per cent, which has recently become a massive problem in the Golden Horseshoe. This is a positive change for renters who are currently at the whims of greedy landlords without rental control in place. The province also plans to strengthen the Residencies Tenancy Act to further protect renters from corrupt landlords.

The province of Ontario is finally taking action on the over-inflated housing market in the Golden Horseshoe, but it still stands to ask whether the initiatives introduced are too weak? By introducing a non-resident tax, the province avoids tackling the larger issue. With an election around the corner, the province may be hesitant to bring the hammer down on wealthy homeowners. Hopefully, the City of Toronto takes the initiative instead and enacts a vacancy tax on behalf of the province.

That being said, the incentive to crack down on speculation driving the market up and re-introducing rent control are fantastic incentives for the province. It remains to be seen what the new regulations will actually do for Ontario — but it will be clear what works and what doesn’t have an incredible impact on the red-hot housing sector.

Recipe: overnight oats with banana

I’m a big fan of this easy and simply overnight breakfast recipe. Just dump all ingredients in a jar, shake, put it in the refrigerator overnight, and then grab-and-go. It’s perfect for those who are super busy or just don’t want to have to deal with complicated breakfasts in the early hours of the morn. It’s also quite a refreshing post-workout breakfast for those who like to get up before dawn for a run.

 Ingredients

¼ cup of oats

½ almond or coconut milk

1 tbsp chia seeds

½ tsp of cinnamon

½ tbls of honey or agave

Banana or other fruit cut up into bite-sized pieces

Put all ingredients in a regular sized jam jar. Add fruit or nuts to taste. And then shake, shake shake! Maybe even dance around the kitchen a bit.

Put the jar in refrigerator over night.

It’s that simple! This breakfast is nutritious, full of fibre, and really tasty! You can heat up the oats in a microwave or it cold. Personally, I don’t mind it cold, especially if I add in some fresh fruit as opposed to frozen.

My suggestion would be to include half a banana (cut into small pieces) to help bind and fill up the spaces between oats. Add blueberries for a particularly refreshing taste. Other options include walnuts, apples, and mango for a Caribbean flavour.

Note: if you don’t enjoy the texture of oatmeal, you may not like this overnight recipe. Instead, why not try mixing chia seeds with milk, cocoa powder, and honey overnight to make a pudding!