Thunder Bay service cut

The city of Thunder Bay is looking to cut services/ costs to allow for more financial flexibility when it comes to future budget decisions. They have started a ‘Core business review’ with the idea of saving $500,000 annually for the next couple of years to around 1.5-2 million total savings. This has come under fire because of recent decisions by councilors to keep open different operations that they felt were ‘quality of life’ services and necessary. This brought into question what is a quality of life service and what is just something that is nice to have. Below I will list what I believe we can cut in order to make the city a leaner and meaner machine when it comes around to budget time.

Municipal Golf CourseCut. Thunder Bay and area had 13 golf courses of which 3 are owned by the municipality. This is a huge number for a city and surrounding around with a population around 120,000 and isn’t sustainable. Golf numbers have declined year over year and the decline is even worse at city run courses. While municipal is known as a easy golf course because its only 9 holes and fairly flat the course isn’t even on City of Thunder Bay lands. It sits in another municipality in which the course pays taxes to it rather then the City of Thunder Bay. The people who go to this could could also be easily accommodated at the other easy privately run course such as Northern Lights. The saving of $100,000 annually could help us to repair another section of sidewalk or fill a number of potholes around the town. With 2 other golf courses the city would also be able to provide for a good place to play during the warmer months. I believe that cutting this course is sensible for both The City of Thunder Bay and Oliver-pappooinge.

Golf Director – If the city decides that its time to part with one of the courses then the golf director needs to see a reduction in his pay. He was brought into to make the golf division of the city self sustaining but has forced many out with larger green fees and costs. Cutting his wage 15-20% would provide another savings for the city which could be used to reduce the amount golfers pay at city course which could bring more back. It should also be considered that this position is eliminated and golf returns to the parks division with the savings passed on to golfers or the coffers.

Snow RemovalReduce. Thunder Bay has had it easy when it comes to snow removal because eventually the city will come and do it. While many city’s have moved away from this and forced the residents to clear out their driveways and sidewalks. The city is looking at possibly cutting this service or reducing it in order to save money. Personally, I feel that this is something we should be reducing but doing so in a friendly way to disabled and elderly. Residents should have to clear out their sidewalks in purely residential areas but sidewalks in commercial and main areas (memorial) would continue. The city could clear the sidewalks where there are seniors who are unable to do the work on their own or provide a tax reduction to a neighbor who would be willing to take on the extra work. Reducing the number of people used for clearing sidewalks could allow for more people to be clearing roads or a reduction in staff producing cost efficiencies. Reducing the number of times that the grader comes down residential routes could also help to reduce costs, waiting till the snow reaches 15cm could be a starting point for non strategic routes.

Sports FacilitiesRealignment – Thunder Bay has a huge number of sports facilities from soccer fields, baseball diamonds to arenas spread out all over the city. Many of these are in poor shape due to the inadequate spending by previous administrations and fixing all of these might not be in the best interest of the city. Bringing together these facilities which are now ‘neighborhood’ based to a larger segment of the city could provide for cost savings and allow for more things to be done at a single place. The Port Arthur Arena and Grandview arena are both relatively close to each other but one facility is in much better condition then the other. Adding a second sheet of ice to the Port Arthur Arena facility along with some other upgrades could allow for the Grandview rink to be closed. The savings from not having to heat and power this older facility could help to improve other sites around the city. There was also the question of how many baseball diamonds the city needs to own and service. The city currently has in the high 60’s of which many are no where close to regulation or in great shape. Creating facilities like Balsam pits could be a good plan for the future in reducing the number of diamonds we have but also making sure the ones we have are in good shape. Updating the city parks division plan to realign its facilities could be a good decision.

Green SpaceReduce and Improve.  In recent news it was announced that a company had purchased the old Sir John. A Mcdonald school and would be using it as a technical office. The purchaser also stated that they wouldn’t be subdividing any of the green space which sits around it for housing and that they wouldn’t put up a cell phone tower. While its nice to see something become of my old school it is also sad to see the opportunity lost to bring in massive amounts of tax incomes. There is a large amount of green space which is under utilized and has been since the school was closed down. This area has become a haven for drunks and drug use because of the security provided by the lack of people. I believe that if we added a section of  housing into this are we could provide for more security and income. Below I have provided a picture of the area which could be used for residential housing and areas which could be left alone for green space.

The Green is all area that could be easily used for residential allowing for more income when it comes to residential taxes. There is also a large portion of green space available to the area for public enjoyment. I added the section by the highway to reduce the area in which a lot of drunks and addicts like to hide. A sound barrier would likely be needed but this could help the area by large margins.

A old parking lot and basketball courts would be lost due to the residential housing but they could be rebuilt to a higher standard and much better maintained elsewhere. The income would help to reduce costs elsewhere and be beneficial to the employees who would be living in the area. In building on the areas we have already settled will be important into the future in stopping urban sprawl.

DensityUpgrade. One of the problems with Thunder bay is that it is a stretched out city without the population base to support the size. We have seen massive increases in taxes to help properly support the amount of urban sprawl we have. The city planning department needs to focus on building within what we already have and building more density. Toronto had the problem of people moving away from the downtown core until the allowed for high rise condo development and pushed developers to build in the area. This success has drive the density in Toronto to new heights and brought in more money to the area. One measure of this success if the 3 billion dollar plan to build 3 70+ story high rises in the downtown to help support the massive growth in the area. These super sky scrapers are just one plan which is changing the sight lines of downtown Toronto and this could be applied to Thunder Bay. Allowing for high rise building in different areas could help to increase the density that the city is taking on and help to repair older infrastructure instead of building new stuff. The city of Thunder Bay has 2000 km of roads (2011) and 46% of it is considered good/ok which is well below the provincial average. If we want to continue to trend of spending the money on new roads and only replacing a small amount of old stuff then we will see more potholes and washouts. The need for density is important to the future of out city and making sure we improve it will be important.

Employee numberReduce. Thunder Bay’s population has declined but yet the number of city employees has increased. We need to seriously consider how many people we have working to get the job done properly and do it in the most cost effective manner. Overall the city may need to look at reduce the number of positions it has by around 100 to bring it back into line with the population. While this should be done through attrition if possible if reducing staff by lay off or severance packages are necessary the city should wait till the employment opportunities have improved to allow for a seamless transition. While this topic will be hotly contested within the city and in the city’s departments the need to have a sustainable city will be important for the future.

The city’s mandate on this project is to find efficiencies. It is to make the city leaner and meaner when it comes to budget time and to reduce the burden on city taxpayers. What goes and what stays will be up to the public and to the Councillors around the table. It will be important to figure out what is important for the city to have and what is nice to have. Unless we get back the industrial tax base that we once had it might be impossible to have all the extras that we had in the 60’s-70’s.


VIA rail proposal

Via Rail has recently had its operational budget cut in the last federal budget. The service which one of the last publicly owned rail companies in North America is in need of investment and a new way of thinking. One proposal that I have for Via rail consists of the Oil Sands, environmental sustainability and moving large numbers of people.

The Oil sands is now one of Canada’s largest employers with a huge number of people being brought in and out of the communities by air. It costs massive amounts of money to move these people and the cost will continue to rise with the increasing price of gas. In many cases companies will pay their employees trips to fly to and from their home community to work. This can become a huge expense for companies and I’m sure that many of these companies are looking to cut these costs. One of the ways that the employers would likely be able to see savings would be the to move these people by rail to and from the major urban centers. Flying them into cities like Edmonton and Calgary and then having them jump onto a train to connect to the Fort McMurrary could be cost efficient. When it comes to moving people and items the cheapest forms of travel are by sea and by rail. It would only make sense that these companies look for new ways to get a large number of employees into work at a single time. As it stands now a seat from Edmonton to Fort McMurrary is around $202 and from Calgary is $244. While both prices are reasonable this flight is only the last hop in a trip that may have taken people across the country. A flight from St. John’s, Newfoundland ranges from $714 to $1,096 for a one way trip. Weather delays are also an important factor to consider when a company looks to get his work from point A to B. Living in Canada we experience snow for a considerable period of time. Snow, ice, sleet, all cause delays to a system which is already consistently delayed due to overcrowding and congestion. Delay’s like this can cause problems for scheduling and cause extra wage related costs which will affect a companies bottom line. While delays can and will happen to a rail based system they can be fixed to make sure they happen on a limited occasion.

The proposal that I have in mind works with these oil companies and suppliers to bring rail service to the north and change how they move their people. Getting these people out of a plane/vehicle and into rail car could help to reduce the environmental impact that these companies have. It could also have a positive impact on Via rail as it looks to different sources of income to reduce the impact of budget cuts. The proposal would be as such:

– Companies interested help to help pay for a rail system from Calgary – Edmonton – Fort McMurray. They pay a percentage of the cost to install the rail line to bring the service to the north.

– Companies can purchase a rail car or a number of them and their employees get cheap rides to Fort McMurray or can pay a percentage and get a reduced rate for employees.

– Cars purchased would cost around 3.33 million or invested in would be 60% of the cost or 1.98 million.

– Via along with the companies would own the tracks and could allow companies like CN or CP access for a fee. Via would collect 51% with the other 49% being divided up by the other investors.

– Priority would be given to trains with investors employees.

– Cars purchased or invested in would serve as a mobile ad space for those companies.


A working relationship could be started with Go transit to purchase cars at the same time they are to reduce the costs experienced by both users. Reducing the cost could help to improve the number of investors willing to bring this project online. The savings will also need to be there as well for the companies and Via rail. Making money from this endeavor will also be important to VIA rail as it will help to reduce the cuts from the most recent budget. We would need to see that saving so lets look at the estimated costs associated with this project. The distance between Edmonton to Fort Mcmurray is 434.8 km and the distance between Toronto – Montreal is 542.4 km.  Roughly the same with the GTA trip being about 100 km longer then the oil trip would be. The costs for this trip is $109 to a maximum of $264 which could be a significant savings for business owners. The cost per km for this route is 0.20 cents, so removing 100 km would reduce the price of a ticket from $109 to $89 or $244 for the most expensive seats Via offers. This savings could be massive for a company $122 dollars a trip will add up quickly and with the added savings in the purposal it could be even more. Consider this, a person works 2 weeks in and 2 weeks out which means that they are making 4 trips a month. 4 trips by plane is $844 but using our rail numbers it could be $356, a savings of $488 a month. Going to a grander scale that could be $5,368 annually back into the companies pocket in savings. If that employee was to continue working with the company for 10 years it would be $53,680 a number which could purchase someone a brand new vehicle in cash.

One of the questions would need to be: How much does the rail car cost and when would I see it pay itself off. If Via decided to go with the same coach produced by Bombardier for Go transit it would cost around $3.33 million per vehicle. One of these rail cars is able to hold 150 people inside comfortably. This means that on average the savings needed to break even on the rail car purchase would need to be $22,200 or just over 4 years continual ridership for each one of those 150 people. With 30,000 commuters to Fort McMurray this could conceivably be a viable option for the future of transit in Alberta. The federal government has worked to make more projects P3 of a public/private partnership and this would be a prime example. There is obviously cost savings available to the energy companies and with a huge push on to make them seem more environmentally friendly then this could be a great option.


What do you think?







Meeting of the concerned citizens just without future citizens input

I came across a group today on Facebook who will be having a meeting tonight to have a discussion. First, I think that people that are involved in the decisions that go on in their community deserve a pat on the back. Way too many people go through life riding the bus and never asking questions. The group is relatively small but the decision they are going to have is about:

There will be a meeting sponsored by the Concerned Taxpayers of Thunder Bay who believe that all citizens (of voting age) should have a vote on the site of the proposed MULTIPLEX when the City is in a good financial position to build one.

The multiplex is a big decision for the City of Thunder Bay and it is an important one. The current arena we use as a university hockey team home and concert hall is now 60 years old with around 10 years left on its lifespan. The decision to move forward with this project has been slow and has been put of by considerable number of councils. They were simply unwilling to stomach the cost to build a new arena to host the events that the Fort William Gardens could when it was first built. It seems that this council and administration has some stomach when it comes to looking at this and planning to build the arena.

This is the problem that I have with this quote. All citizens (OF VOTING AGE), I have seen in other areas that people only want taxpayers to vote. The problem I see with that is that this arena and this decision will continue to be around for the next 40-50 years. So why would we not include the opinions of people 14-18 in the process of if we should have it or not. These people will be paying into the decision for years to come as well and we view our youth as ‘the leaders of tomorrow’. Why not provide them with the information, show them the benefits to both sides and let them make a decision as well. When it comes time to replace this building they will have been paying taxes to keep it going for 25-35 years. Why do we view our youth as unable to come to a educated decision on issues that pertain to the future. If we want them to make the proper decisions then we need to have them involved in the discussions and have them become informed.

Voting on the site: Is kinda like voting for King and Queen of the prom. Usually the most popular, good looking girl gets it along with the big, strong jock (at least in Hollywood movies). We can’t have a popularity contest over the location of the site, if we did that then what is the point to having a feasibility study show us where it is viable. Knowing some of the member of the group attending they will be pushing for Innova, I can respect that opinion. When it comes to spending 106 million in my mind that can’t be something chosen because of a popularity contest like a vote would be. The decision needs to be made by supporting facts and really looking to the future of the city overall. Many of the polls that have been taken Downtown won out so I wonder what they will say if they lose even with a plebiscite.


For those who may be in the group? What is the plebiscite on? location, do we want to building it? I keep hearing have a plebiscite but no idea was given as to what the topic would be about.


High Speed Rail in Canada

One of the things in the North American context, we do very poorly with the introduction of the automobile is provide effective transportation by train. Once the most prestigious forms of travel and most cost-effective in the 1800’s and early 1900’s were to cross the country by rail. Movement by the train which crossed through the mountains of British Columbia; winding through the north shore of Lake Superior and the big cities of central Canada was once the best way to see the country.  It continues to be one of the best ways to see the country but fewer Canadians are experiencing this form of travel. With cutbacks to Via Rail, a lower number of communities are served by the federal rail service and a less consistent form of travel is available. The reduction of budgets come from countries throughout Europe and Asia are investing heavily into passenger rail travel. Transportation by rail has shown to be one of the most efficient forms of travel when compared to planes and automobiles. As time progresses we see changes in the way that individuals and families travel and their considerations when taking a trip. High gas prices, increasing personnel costs, debt and stagnant wages have reduced the average Canadian’s ability to take part in traditional leisure. As we see Canadians looking for cheaper alternatives the train may once again become an important part of how we move around the country. The decision will need to be made by provinces and the federal government on how much they want to invest into rail travel and in certain areas high speed rail. The Canadian Government under Prime Minister Steven Harper took cuts and privatization of Via Rail or aspects of it. Which undermines the ability for Canadians to take advantage of this form of travel. It is only now under Prime Minister Justin Trudeau that we are seeing investments in refurbishment and replacement of Via Rail assets. Beyond this investment in capital expenditure, we need to see investment into operating expenses to allow for additional trains and more frequent service. Both of which are necessary to remove Canadians from their personal vehicles and get them into seats on trains.

Ontario is the most populous province in Canada and also has one of the most effective rail systems in the country. While the current Ontario government has invested heavily into rail transit is has been to address the local transit issues more then the overall Canada picture. Current investments into the TTC, GO transit, Ottawa transit and other systems will help to alleviate some of the transportation problems facing the Greater Toronto and Hamilton Area (GTHA) but these investments will be short-lived. A growing population in the established GTHA region matched with an already heavy strain on the transit (road/rail) system means a collaboration between the federal government and the Ontario government to establish effective regional and provincial system is necessary. My preference for getting into the GTHA region generally is to take Go Transit; I find this to be effective and efficient means of travel. It is currently undergoing a massive investment by the Ontario government to see by 2025 the number of trains reaches 6,000 weekly. This investment will see greater opportunities for people to live in the region and commute to these areas for work or play at an affordable price. This investment is also much more environmentally friendly as it reduced the number of single person vehicles on the roads and reduces costs associated with maintenance of road networks. There is much necessary work to be done beyond this investment though as there is a significant bottleneck in the downtown Toronto area and with the multitude of individual transit systems with varying costs/options. Moving between communities without a personal vehicle is and can be a challenge. While the investments made into Go transit area great like everything else there needs to be more done for regional movements.

Many businesses find that it still takes too long to make it to business meetings in other portions of the country by rail to make it a reasonable option for travel. The Toronto – Montreal corridor, for example, is one of the most heavily used by Via Rail. Yet, it does not own a lot of the rails it rides on and plays second fiddle to freight traffic. This can lead to delays; travel cancellations and additional costs to the business. Freight rails are also not designed to handle the speed necessary for effective passenger traffic as freight trains are more about the amount of tonnage rather than travel time. Travel by air/ car is the preferred option because it allows for a better schedule and a faster commute. We have also invested heavily into both of these models either through government or private investment. There is competition in the airline business to offer comfort/speed/pricing and more to the passenger. Governments spend billions on roads annually to update and improve their networks and it has shown to be a political boon when new roads are announced or opened. Yet, we do not see this type of interest or investment in passenger rail as only the federal government operates national passenger rail travel and there is no private competition. Currently, taking Via Rail will cost you in the range of 4 1/2 to 6 hours by rail to get from Toronto to Montreal. Not to mention there is the travel associated with getting to Union station etc. In the business world, a lot can change in that period of time and it’s really not an acceptable period of time to be away from an office. While Via Rail has invested in tools like wifi to connect passengers I found it to be limited and often unreliable. I think the idea of productive time by Via Rail as a means to sell their service is a good one. Whereas in a vehicle you cant (or shouldn’t) be doing business work; on a train, you can be provided with the opportunity and means. Business class will be the first to jump on a form of travel that helps to get them somewhere and it cheap on their wallet.

Investing in a sustainable, fast high speed rail system in southern Ontario connecting it to the business world of Quebec City and Montreal could have a great impact on the economy of these two provinces. A high-speed rail system linking with Amarak in Buffalo to Montreal with stops in Ottawa, Toronto, Kitchener-Waterloo would be a huge boon for Ontario and Quebec. The Ontario government has currently announced an environmental assessment into high-speed rail in the southern portion of this map at an estimated cost of $25 billion dollars. This could be in place in the mid to late 2020’s with enough political willpower and investment by governments/private sector. An improved rail service would also help to reduce the number of vehicles that are on the roadways and help to create a greener society but also a safer road system saving thousands of people annually who die in auto accidents. The effective movement of people is currently one of the top priorities for the Ministry of Transportation and Metrolinx (within the GTHA). A huge amount of money is lost annually to congestion; that congestion also leads to negative health effects such as obesity, heart issues, stress-related issues and these individuals are not adding to the economy when stuck in traffic.  Getting people out of their vehicles and being productive will be an important factor in the future of the country, increasing GDP and reducing health-related issues. High-speed rail offers the opportunity to offer additional more frequent service to Canadians along this or other lines. This opens up more transportation options for individuals where speed may not be a priority but affordability is. Additional trains could also be used to expand the service to areas who have lost the rail service during the cut backs in the 90’s/2000’s. Below is a photo of where I personally believe that a high speed rail line would be effective in Southern Ontario. Less stops between the major communities would lead to faster service (a straight line is obviously not possible given the natural features of the province such as lakes, rivers, gullies etc).

When the government decides to build this high speed transit line it will need to be able to connect to the American Amtrack system and it will need to reach all the major sectors in southern Ontario. It will be important to figure out if going to Union Station will be a must for the line with the increasing amount of traffic and delay through this station. Being in downtown Toronto and with the number of businesses in the area, I believe that it would be a must for this service to be in Union Station if it wants to be successful. Union station west or the Pearson airport terminal would also be a required stop for this line to be effective. Connecting to the largest international airport in Canada would again attractive business travelers who would be able to afford higher ticket prices with the benefit of speed.

One of the areas that it will be important to the expansion of the Via Rail system into will be Fort McMurray. It might not be necessary to have a high-speed rail line but there is an opportunity by having a passenger rail line up to the oil sands. Thousands of workers come in and out of this area on a daily basis through many different transportation methods. While a significant portion flies into the area; there are commuters that live in Edmonton, Calgary, and region that commute on a frequent basis to their home communities. For those driving, they have to drive through a dangerously overcrowded highway filled with transports and their loads. The government of Alberta is investing hundreds of millions to expand the road network in this area but increased road capacity tends to bring additional road users which alleviates the investment. Just recently an accident on this highway claimed the life of 4-7 people which put the pressure back on the government to expand this road. This project has been one that the government and local municipalities have talked about for years but as the price of oil increases, it becomes more expensive people for people to commute and increases demand on the transportation networks. A rail line coming from the Edmonton and Calgary airports that went up to Fort McMurray would be an instant draw for workers coming in from across the country and workers who live in these two cities. If they reduced the number of people on that highway then the project to 4 lane it might not be necessary. Increasing the passing lanes and adding rest stops might be all it needs to make it safe for people to drive on. Companies would also be able to take advantage of the rail lines by shipping their workers up by rail instead of shipping them in by plane. The cost savings could likely be in the tune of thousands for these companies and the increased revenue could help to keep VIA rail a sustainable system for the future. A rail line could look like this for Alberta. (Again, relative without taking into consideration geographic features like lakes, swamps etc)

A rail line connecting Alberta’s two biggest populations would be a good way to increase the amount of travel between these two area’s. While there is a highway connecting the two cities a rail system would be able to carry more people and help to quickly move the oil sand workers who live in Calgary north. Being able to move a large number of people between these two cities and Fort McMurray will be important feature into the viability of these communities into the future. I have also added a high-speed rail line between Calgary and Vancouver because I feel with the added trade between Canada and the west coast is important to the sustainability of these business operations. Calgary to Vancouver current is less than 1,000 km; a train that reaches a speed of 364 km/h or 220 mph which is the new standard for high-speed rail would take a current 10-hour trip one way and make it just over 3. This means that day trips to Vancouver/Calgary are possible without needing to go by air. This could be a successful venture based on the number of business headquarters stationed in Calgary and the connections to Asia/West coast of the United States that the Vancouver airport has.

Canada’s rail system does something very well it moves freight by rail exceptionally which is great for our country. It is one thing that we do better then the Europeans but we need to look to our past successes when it comes to rail to power our future. The days of cheap gas and unlimited road trips are over and our population is becoming more environmentally conscious. Unless we can drop the price of gas back to 40-50 cent a litre we will continue to need more environmentally friendly ways of travel. Our main desire will be to get around the country in the cheapest and fastest way possible and the cheapest form of mass transport beside ships is rail.


Editor Note: Updated on April 25th, 2018

Focus on India not China

Canada and most of the world has turned it attention to the new markets opening up in Asia and the prosperity that they can bring to struggling economies back home. While the massive economic growth and resource spending by China has helped to raise many companies profit margins it could come at a huge loss in the near future. In 2008, when the financial bubble burst a number of different issues came together to create the perfect economic storm. Hugely inflated housing prices, mortgages, debt and more all worked together to bring down the US and world economy. The market looks like it could do it again in the near future but the location of the collapse would be different and this upcoming collapse would make the US crisis look like a blip.

China has the largest population in the world with 1.3 billion people and growing at a substantial rate. With this growth in population has also come huge economic growth and huge challenges for governments and builders. The Chinese economy has grown at an average rate of 9.5% which makes it the fastest growing in the world. This growth has come along with a massive influx of people into urban centers away from traditional roots in rural areas. Massive growth in the economy, a huge influx of people into urban centers have forced all levels of government in China to spend massive amounts of money on infrastructure like transit, power and most importantly homes. These changes have never been seen before on the level that they are being accomplished on now and it has put a huge strain on the world’s resources. Prices of resources like Oil, silver, metals once dictated by the power of the US economy are now being driven by the demand in China and India. These changes in a once poor country has caught the eye of many foreign companies and many foreign governments. Looking at an opportunity to become less dependent on traditional economies like the US and the eurozone, it provides a new and untapped source of potential customers. One of the biggest investments that is being made now is in housing the 1.3 billion people which live in China but more importantly having available space for people to live in the cities. Massive cities have been built to house these people and the sector has been booming for years. As it stands China is building around 20 new cities annually as the government tries to make enough housing available for people to live in. The problem with this massive building program is that the cost of housing has risen substantially in many cities across the nation. Housing prices are said to be substantially higher then the real value of the houses and in some areas up to 70% overvalued. This all occurs while Chinese wages haven’t kept up to the rising inflation costs and have put many people’s dreams of owning a house on hold. While normally these people would be buying, as it stands right now they are not. Yet as people slow down purchases the construction of new houses continues at a steady pace and has created a new dilemma. Its thought that up to 64 million homes are empty, waiting for people to come and occupy them. Whole cities are thought to be empty with no one living there other then the Chinese government officials who run the local offices. Huge cities who would rival even the largest in the US sitting completely empty and many have been for years even after the construction finished.

The photo above is a 19 billion dollar development which has sat empty for years. While you might think that these developments will be filled as people save enough money to purchase the homes and things will return to normal. The problem still remains that the wages aren’t keeping up with the inflation and price increases of this houses. In Phoenix, one of the hardest hit area’s in the 2008 recession housing prices were thought to be 60% overvalued before the bubbled popped. A Chinese think tank recently announced that in 35 cities the average price was 30% overvalued. The Chinese economy is thought to be getting a huge investment from foreign investors to the tune of 25% of the annual expenses. If the bubble which is growing in the Chinese economy, we could see a massive decline in housing prices and a repeat of what occurred in the US.  The bubble bursting could put a huge dent in the overall economic growth that China has experienced for a number of year. This bubble bursting could also bring down a number of other economies which China owns a large portion of their public debt. It could also bring down a lot of private corporations that have bet that the Chinese economy will continue to grow at a rate of 9.5% annually for a number of years. The decline in economic growth will also greatly reduce the amount of resources that the Chinese economy consumes and will drag down resource prices. While I am no economist or big time investor the bubble is a huge problem that any government should be scared of and force them to look elsewhere for consumers.

India is a country also on the rise like China but has a more favorable government then the Chinese. They also have a huge potential customer base for Canadian companies and they will be consuming a large number of resources in the near future. They also have gone through a bubble burst in 2008 along with the US which means that their housing market has huge potential for growth. There has also been a huge increase in the middle class in India which has driven consumption to new levels and allowed more Indians to buy up property. Consumption for power is also a huge market for Canadian companies which was shown by the huge blackouts across India in 2012. India is a star on the rise and will likely play a more important role for Canadian companies then China will in the medium/long term. Having the government focus on this country more then trying to work with China will likely have a better impact on our economy and investments then on China. India is also becoming the land of headquarters which means more higher paying jobs then the manufacturing jobs which help to keep the Chinese economy running. One of the biggest opportunity for Canadian companies to invest in India will be the desperate need for power and energy production in India. With a popular type of nuclear reactor already available by Canadian companies this is a great opportunity to produce high paying jobs for Canada. Massive amounts of shale gas and oil will also be able to power new power plants that come online in India in the coming future if we work together. With a strong education system we could also provide an opportunity for students from India to come learn the ways of the western world and provide a new income to the local universities/colleges. Being able to work with the government will also be important to make sure that the relationship works and continues to prosper into the future. India and Canada will have a much easier relationship because of an agreed stance on human rights whereas China and Canada continue to see differently based on the government system.

Anything that I say on my blogs I try to back up with stats, facts and opinions from people much smarter then myself. As I have laid out I believe that India will be more important to Canada then a country like China would be. While China will be increasingly important there will come a time when China tries to challenge the US as a superpower in the world. Such a challenge will force Canada and other US allies to choose a side on which to stand and could cause more rifts between a already rocky relationship between China and Canada. The upcoming economic slowdown in China is already causing companies to reduce the amount they produce or resources they pull annually. The bubble bursting will cause massive amounts of struggle for companies inside China and outside. To prepare for this we need to make sure that we focus on distribution to many different markets. Both these countries will be important but India looks to be the more important into the future.

Dalton McGunity has resigned

While the reasons for the resignation aren’t well know yet, we do know that the Liberal government will be looking for a new leader. Premier since 2003 he had led Ontario through an economic upswing and the largest downturn since the great depression. Significant milestones for the Premier’s time in office include the All day kindergarten, Toronto transit expansion (including David Miller) and locally he well be known for the massive investments into transit that affected the job market at bombardier. The local Bombardier plant was looked at for closure in 2003 as contracts had dried up and there wasn’t much investment into transit by the previous government. The plant now employs 1,400 people compared to the 300 when the Liberal government came to power.

He likely will also be known as the Premier that was in power during 2 elections where he stated he wouldn’t increase taxes and while in power introduced new taxes. He likely will also have the E-health scandal, the Ornge Scandal and the more recent gas power plant cancellations associated with his name.

Overall, it will take time to see if his time as Premier will be viewed as a success or a failure. He has accomplished many things but also seen a lot of negatives while he was the person in power. If he is remembered for one thing it will be his dedication to Education and his nickname Premier Dad.

Time to go back to the well

When Canada was starting to grow as a country huge numbers of people migrated from Europe. The potato famine in Ireland, the 30’s and economic downturn in the continent all pushed people out of their homeland to the prosperity of North America. As things started to change in the 50’s-60’s the places were people migrated from started to change from Europe to Asia. For the last 40 years we have been drawing from countries such as India, China, Malaysia and many different African countries. The problem with taking from countries that have a strong economy and are in general improving is that people are more willing to stay and not migrate. As China continues to see massive investment into its economy and India grows into the headquarters capital of the world these places will become harder to get people to move from. I believe that it is time to change the area that we are focusing our immigration dollars and go back to the well which helped originally build the country.

The European union is struggling with massive amounts of debt, austerity, riots and unemployment. On top of that there is the concern that the EU could return into another economic downturn causing unemployment to rise much higher. Countries like England, France, Ireland, Germany, Ukraine, Greece all of which have massive representation in Canada are available for plucking people. Germany’s unemployment rate is currently 5.4% which is significantly lower then Canada’s at 7.4% but this number is skewed by high unemployment in places like Newfoundland and Labrador, Nunavut and the maritime. Growth in western provinces propelled by the oil sands are working to bring down the unemployment rate and massive number of job opportunities are available for Canadians and immigrants alike. At 10.2% unemployment in France it would be easy to help bring new immigrants to Canada with a sales pitch that you never really need to leave home with Quebec around. Bringing in more French people will help to appease the Parti Quebecois and help to keep the Quebec government running as their are more people in which they can tax.  This sales pitch could likely be very effective in bringing droves of French people to Canada just like it did in the 1800’s when they originally settled the land. At 8.1% the United Kingdom is the closest to our own level of unemployment but again the historic ties could prove very important when it comes to trying to bring in large numbers of people to Canada. With the threat of a double dip recession hanging over the United Kingdom and massive public cuts coming there is likely to be more then a few who would be willing to jump ship and head to the land across the pond. 9.2%, 15% and 25% are the unemployment rates of Ukraine, Ireland and Greece all of these countries would shed thousands of people to Canada if a focus was given to them. Bringing over young workers who would be able to jump into the massive numbers of jobs that are opening up as the baby boomers start to retire. These 6 countries could help meet the Canadian quota of immigrants they want to bring in alone and more. Canadians are already focusing in on Ireland as a place to replenish young workers for the upcoming retirements. Immigration minister Jason Kenney personally went to an Ireland job fair to recruit workers to bring back to Canada. He used stories of young Irish workers who made the trip to Canada and talked about their experiences and their life in Canada.

“His department said in a news release that the current quota of spaces will grow to 6,350 next year, an increase of 1,000, and reach 10,000 at the beginning of 2014. – Yahoo news”

This focus on Ireland should only be the first stage of a return to the ‘well’ which provided Canada with the manpower and first homeowners that built the country. There is an opportunity here to scoop up the next generation of workers and bring in people who will be ready to have children and fill the schools of tomorrow. The next change for the Canadian government will be the number of people that they allow annually into Canadian with Visa’s and new citizens.

Annually, Canada brings in 250,000 people a year into the country as new citizens. While this number has been consistent and helped Canada to grow to a new high of 34 million (latest census) the number will need to be increased to reduce the impact of the upcoming retirements. As it stands now there is currently 16 working people to every 1 retired but as the number of retired increased that number reduces to 4:1. Such a low number will cause a massive increase in the amount of taxes and reduction in services unless more people can be brought in to work. In a article by the Globe and Mail it was shown that without major increases in the number of immigrants that we can expect:

“Between now and 2021, a million jobs are expected to go unfilled across Canada.- The Globe and Mail”An increase in the number of immigrants ready to jump into jobs will help to keep the services and taxes at a reasonable level. Immigrants with a background or training in the skilled trades will be a qualification that should be pushed to fill the massive number of openings in these fields. An increase in the number of immigrants and workers would also allow Canada to fill out as a country and urbanize more plateaued center. Pushing people to move to area’s that are struggling to grow or slowly declining would allow for these areas to see an economic uplift and help Canada’s national defense. The Globe and Mail had a really good story based on why the country should increase immigrants and the overall birth rate to allow for Canada to increase to 100 million. I agree with a majority of the story and the reasons for it; here is the link to the story.

Now is a perfect time for Canada to go back to the ‘well’ and draw young workers to Canada. There isn’t as much of a language barrier for people coming from Europe because of the strength of English and our country was built on the cultures these people brought over. I am not here to say that we should stop accepting from Asia or Africa but simply to say that there is an opportunity that countries like the US and Australia are taking advantage of. Canada needs to grow and needs to deal with the massive retirement problem that is coming. The only way we can effectively deal with these problems is for the country to go out and steal the young workers of other countries and bring them here. If we want to protect our healthcare system, protect our gains then we need to bring these people in because effectively Canada is a dying country without immigrants. We have a opportunity to offer these people and there is a reason why people who come here or to North America in general love it.