Five things you should know before starting your work day on May 10

Good morning, everyone! Shari Kulha here once again taking a look at some of the top business stories we’re following today. 


Free land, reduced fees, quick approval times and tax incentives to create affordably priced housing options in Vancouver and Toronto are being offered by Creative Housing Society (run by Toronto’s former chief city planner Jennifer Keesmat). The non-profit aims to build units for those with median income of up to $100,000, allowing them to spend less than 30% of their income on housing.


Everybody’s raising. Homebuyers with less than a 20% down payment wanting an insured mortgage must now qualify at the Bank of Canada’s new, higher qualifying mortgage rate of 5.34%, up from 5.14%. Buyers who don’t need mortgage insurance must qualify at a rate that is the greater of the central bank’s five-year benchmark rate or two percentage points higher than a lender’s contractual mortgage rate.


Two analysts downgraded WestJet’s stock following disappointing first-quarter results. A strike vote by pilots is expected to pass this week, Alicja Siekierska reports, with a walkout possible as early as May 19. The analysts are skeptical of the airline’s plan to launch an ultra-low-cost carrier while going after international markets, with the labour situation as it is. “… the WestJet story now requires near flawless execution, which we view as a high hurdle for any company,” one wrote. 


RioCan beat analyst estimates for its first quarter, but “retail apocalypse” fears still weigh on the stock. But the REIT said its occupancy rates are around historic highs, David Dias reports, with the funds from operations metric, up 6.1%, benefitting from tight markets in major cities. Revenue was flat; net income fell 16.6%. 


Federal Finance Minister Bill Morneau and economist Jack Mintz face off on how competitive Canada is for investors. Morneau says 600,000 jobs were created in two years, and that business investment grew 8% in 2017 — the fastest rate in five years. He added that the Bank of Canada’s Business Outlook Survey shows that capital investment intentions are near their highest levels since 2001. Mintz argues we have low productivity and innovation rates and low private investment rates. The tax burden here now weighs 10% heavier on new investments than it does in the U.S., he says, creating a competitive disadvantage.

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