CMHC CEO’s letter ruffles feathers as bankers say stricter mortgage rules could dash first-time homebuyers’ hopes

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“There is no question that there will be pain in the system but the question is how much and whether incremental demand picks up some of the slack,” said Gord Nixon, former chief executive of Royal Bank of Canada, the country’s biggest lender.

Employment levels — the key indicator watched by bankers when it comes to assessing the risk of mortgage delinquencies and defaults — have dipped considerably during the COVID-19 pandemic. But household income loss has been muted, for now, by the government programs.

Nixon declined to speak to the Post specifically about Siddall’s letter, but during a television interview on BNN Bloomberg on Thursday, he said the views the CMHC head expressed seemed “a little bit alarmist” to him.

Industry sources say many on Bay Street were surprised to see the CMHC head take aim at private market competitors Genworth Financial Mortgage Insurance Company Canada and Canada Guaranty Mortgage Insurance Co.

It is evident that people aren’t reading what we wrote and (are) misrepresenting our views

Evan Siddall, CMHC CEO

One veteran banker also questioned why CMHC was pushing mortgage insurers to set standards for lenders, rather than leaving the job to the regulator, the Office of the Superintendent of Financial Institutions (OSFI).

Siddall said in his letter to lenders that he was simply explaining CMHC’s rationale for the July 1 changes — which included increasing the minimum credit score required to obtain CMHC insurance and eliminating insurance for those borrowing their downpayment — and trying to ensure the fallout did not undermine CMHC’s market presence “unnecessarily.”

However, part of his rationale — high household debt in Canada — was also questioned by bankers because it is far from a new issue and has been flagged as a risk for years by domestic and international organizations including the Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD). Despite these warnings, the residential mortgage sector has remained relatively free of damagingly high defaults through the 2008 financial crisis and the oil price collapse in 2015, the veteran banker noted.

Siddall appears to have intended his views on mortgage underwriting to remain behind closed doors, but he posted the letter on the online networking platform LinkedIn this week after suggesting “someone leaked” it, noting he wanted people to see it in full rather than excerpts of it.

He also took to Twitter, where he pushed back on suggestions he was trying to halt business lenders do with CMCH’s private market competitors Genworth and Canada Guaranty, and said his letter had been “twisted by self-serving commentators” in the days after it came to light.

“Excessive borrowing creates future economic drag and I offered that as reasoning behind our changes,” he wrote. “I acknowledged that our market share would decline, and I merely asked lenders not to allow our competitors to gain share beyond what we are now avoiding.”

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Coronavirus: Breweries vow to stick to lockdown rules after investigation finds pubs flouting restrictions | UK News

Major UK breweries admit they have “an important role to play” in controlling the spread of COVID-19, after a Sky News investigation revealed nine out of 10 pubs in Greater Manchester were flouting lockdown rules.

In an unprecedented joint statement, the breweries, which operate venues across Greater Manchester, said: “The COVID-19 pandemic has given us all a new set of responsibilities.

“It is vital that the trade and all industry stakeholders continue to follow the government guidance on measures to restrict the spread and keep venues safe.”

Earlier this week, a Sky News undercover team visited 10 licensed premises in a borough of Greater Manchester where COVID-19 cases are rising.

Revealed: Manchester pubs ignoring COVID rules

Only one out of the 10 venues visited proactively asked for contact details to help with the government’s Test and Trace programme.

In two venues, social distancing was being ignored.

After seeing our footage, Andy Burnham, the mayor of Greater Manchester, said it was time for the hospitality industry to “get its house in order”.

Today, he backed the group statement, saying: “I welcome the fact that the majority [of venues] are complying with all the government guidelines.

“But the majority are being let down by the minority who are not taking the regulations seriously. I am happy to support the sector but we do need the whole industry to step up.”

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Today, it was revealed that local lockdown restrictions in Greater Manchester would be kept in place for at least another week.

Mr Burnham said it was important that the public “play its part” in helping to control the disease’s spread.

The breweries behind today’s unprecedented joint statement are Admiral Taverns, Greene King, Hydes, Joseph Holt Brewery, JW Lees, Marston’s PLC, Punch Pubs & Co., Robinsons Brewery, Star Pubs & Bars and Stonegate Pub Company.

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Coronavirus: Bowling alleys, stadiums and salons have lockdown rules eased – as mask fines doubled | Politics News

Fines of up to £3,200 for repeatedly not wearing a mask have been announced by Boris Johnson alongside eased lockdown measures for bowling alleys, casinos, skating rinks and beauty salons.

The prime minister says he wants to ease lockdown rules to help people get back to work and enjoy things they have missed – but there will be tougher penalties for repeat offenders who flout the rules.

The maximum fine for not wearing a mask is to be doubled from £1,600 to £3,200 and fines of up to £10,000 are planned for “senseless” people who host or organise illegal raves that put lives at risk.

But at the same time, the PM says lockdown rules will be eased to allow:

  • Bowling alleys, skating rinks and casinos to reopen for the first time as well as indoor play and soft play centres
  • Beauty salons, tattoo studios, spas and barbers in England to offer all close contact services and treatments
  • Sit-down wedding receptions for up to 30 people to resume in coronavirus-secure premises
  • Indoor arts and music performances with socially distanced audiences
  • Sports and business events pilots to resume.
Boris Johnson: ‘We must remain focused and we cannot be complacent’

Announcing the latest lockdown shake-up, Mr Johnson said: “Most people in this country are following the rules and doing their bit to control the virus, but we must remain focused and we cannot be complacent.

“That is why we are strengthening the enforcement powers available to use against those who repeatedly flout the rules.

“At every stage I have said our plan to reopen society and the economy is conditional and that it relies on continued progress against the virus.

“Today, we are able to announce some further changes which will allow more people to return to work and the public to get back to more of the things they have missed.

“However, as I have always said, we will not hesitate to put on the brakes if required, or to continue to implement local measures to help to control the spread of the virus.”

On the doubling of the maximum fine for not wearing a mask, Transport Secretary Grant Shapps said: “We introduced mandatory face coverings on public transport to protect people and stop coronavirus spreading.

“I’m grateful to all those who have complied, and of course many people have legitimate reasons not to wear face coverings – but for those who aren’t exempt, there is no excuse.

“That’s why we must get tougher on repeat offenders. This new system will look to ensure everybody who is not exempt wears a face covering on public transport, continuing the public’s excellent efforts in helping this country recover.”

And on the new fines for illegal raves, Home Secretary Priti Patel said: “Coronavirus remains a real and present threat to all of us and the majority of the British public are doing the right thing.

“I will not stand by and see these sacrifices undermined by a small minority of senseless individuals.

“These measures send a clear message – if you don’t cooperate with the police and if you put our health at risk, action will follow.”

People were seen dancing at an illegal rave in Leeds.

June: Young people dance at illegal rave in Leeds

More culture, sport, leisure and business events will also be allowed from this weekend.

The government said two weeks ago there were concerns about a slight increase in the number of people in England testing positive, but the situation now appears to have levelled off.

Indoor theatres, music and performance venues will be able to reopen with socially distanced audiences under updated performing arts guidance being published by the government, after a successful series of pilots.

The piloting of some sporting events will resume from Saturday with a view to reopening competition venues for sports fans, with social distancing measures in place from 1 October.

The first of these will be the final of the World Snooker Championship at Sheffield’s Crucible Theatre on Saturday and Sunday.

Crucible in Sheffield
Fans will be allowed in to watch the World Snooker Championships at Sheffield’s Crucible Theatre. File pic

The government says beauty salons, tattoo studios, spas and barbers across England will be able to offer treatments such as eyebrow threading, make-up eyelash treatments and facials and botox from Saturday.

But hairdressers will have to wear a surgical face mask in addition to a clear visor that covers the face.

The government says this will help protect the customer and staff from respiratory droplets caused by sneezing, coughing, or speaking.

Business Secretary Alok Sharma said: “From Saturday, salons, spas and other close contact services across England will once again be able to offer all services in a way that is safe for workers and clients.

“I am pleased to give these often small, independent businesses a much-needed boost as we progress with our plan to kickstart the economy to protect jobs and incomes.

“Opening up the economy is conditional on our continued success at controlling the spread of coronavirus. Therefore it remains essential businesses comply with COVID-19 secure measures to protect workers and the public.”

In a boost for the hospitality sector, events and conferences will be able to resume, provided infection levels remain at current levels, meaning this year’s Tory conference – on hold at present – could take place after all.

Fines for not wearing a face covering in a mandated area are currently £100 (or £50 if paid in 14 days).

In future, repeat offenders will see their fines doubled on each offence, up to a maximum of £3,200.

Police forces across England and Wales have already stepped up patrols to prevent illegal gatherings, including major events in Leicester and Greater Manchester which were larger than those on New Year’s Eve.

Last weekend, West Midlands Police shut down 125 parties and raves – and closed a pub – taking action to stop illegal gatherings and anti-social behaviour across the region.

Transport for London and British Transport Police have enforced face coverings rules 91,501 times, preventing 4,397 people from boarding, asking 3,030 to leave the network and issuing 341 penalty notices.

But despite the changes announced by the prime minister, nightclubs, dance halls, and discos, as well as sexual entertainment venues and hostess bars, will remain closed.

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High Court rules against union bid for more paid sick leave for shift workers

The operators of Tasmania’s Cadbury factory have won their bid to cut personal leave for shift workers, in a ruling which could have implications for other Australian workers.

The workers who took their claim for paid personal and carer’s leave entitlements to the High Court work three 12-hour shifts a week.

A year ago, two Cadbury workers won a Federal Court case arguing that because they worked 12-hour shifts, their 10 days of personal leave should be paid at 12 hours a day.

The company had argued it was entitled to pay the rate at only 7.6 hours.

Cadbury owners Mondelez International took the case to the High Court.

It has ruled the entitlement centred around two traditional weeks and since the Cadbury workers worked only three long shifts a week, they were only entitled to six days of paid personal and carer’s leave.

The High Court rejected the union’s argument that the reference in the Fair Work Act 2009 to “10 days” meant every employee, regardless of those of their work pattern and distribution of hours, could be absent without loss of pay on 10 working days per year.

“It would give rise to absurd results and inequitable outcomes,” the court said.

In its summary of the judgment, the court said “10 days” in the Act was two standard five-day working weeks.

“One ‘day’ refers to a ‘notional day’ consisting of one-tenth of the equivalent of an employee’s ordinary hours of work in a two-week period,” the summary said.

COVID-19 era demonstrates need for sick leave

The union representing the factory’s shift workers said the decision was a huge blow and would have implications for other Australian shift workers.

The Australian Manufacturers Workers Union said COVID-19 had shown the importance of personal leave

State secretary John Short wants the Federal Government to legislate that all workers get 10 days paid leave.

“They shouldn’t be paid less because they are having a sick day … they should be paid the same amount of hours that they should have been paid in sick leave and they should have got that on 10 occasions a year,” he said.

“I’d like to see the Federal Government make sure people get 10 days per year no matter what hours they’re working.

“What’s happened here is Cadbury and the Federal Government have taken sick leave away from workers.”

In a statement, the company welcomed the decision, saying it would ensure “continued equality between employees who complete the same ordinary hours in their working week, however on different rosters”.

It would also “provide certainty for all Australian employers with non-standard shift arrangements and those that employ part-time employees, including Mondelez International and others such as those in the nursing, mining, building and construction and transport and distribution industries.”

Exterior of Cadbury factory, Claremont, Tasmania.
Cadbury owners Mondelez wanted to pay workers sick leave based on a rate of 7.6 hours, even if they worked 12-hour shifts.(Facebook: Michael Della-Fontana)

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Tasmania’s 132-year-old Table Cape lighthouse needs a new tour guide — and they’ll be able to ‘make their own rules’

If you’re looking for a project to keep you busy over the spring and summer months, one Tasmanian council thinks they’ve got the ultimate opportunity.

But anyone afraid of heights may want to think carefully about applying.

The Waratah-Wynyard council in Tasmania’s north-west is looking for someone to run tours of the historic Table Cape lighthouse.

The 132-year-old lighthouse is known for its expansive views of the coastline, and tulip fields nearby that come alive in the spring.

Migrating whales can be seen from the lighthouse.(Supplied: Michael Hyland)

Expressions of interest are open now, and the council’s manager of tourism and marketing, Rachael Hogge, says the lighthouse has “the best office views in the world”.

“The views are incredible. From the top of the lighthouse you can see all the way to Low Head in the east and beyond Stanley to the west on a clear day.”

“Because you’re looking from so high up, looking down into the water, you can see the whales and the dolphins.”

A grave near the Table Cape lighthouse, Tasmania.
A grave at the site of the Table Cape lighthouse.(Supplied: Michael Hyland)

The tours run between September and April, telling tourists about the storied history of the fully operational lighthouse.

Ms Hogge said that though some rules would be set by the council and the Australian Maritime Safety Authority, it was a very flexible job.

“They would be running it as a sole trader or a partnership or whatever arrangement they wanted to make.

A woman gestures to the horizon while standing on the deck of a lighthouse.
Now that is a view!(Supplied: Michael Hyland)

‘I’d fully recommend it’: former operator

Michael Hyland has operated the lighthouse tours for the last three years and estimates he took at least 10,000 people around the area.

He has decided to retire, but insists it is the dream job.

“I was blown away by it all, it’s such a unique area,” Mr Hyland said.

Navy ship seen from a lighthouse.
A wide variety of ships pass by the lighthouse.(Supplied: Michael Hyland)

One of the highlights of his tenure was a man who decided to play bagpipes from the top of the lighthouse, 180 metres above sea level.

“I also had a blind person standing up there with the wind blowing in their face while I described everything to them. It’s just unbelievable.”

He said there was very little in the way of paperwork or overheads, making it a low-fuss operation.

While not every day is sunny — Mr Hyland said typical Tasmanian cold and wet conditions were inevitable — he said he was sad to leave.

Ms Hogge said it was the perfect job, with just one potential downside.

“Just as long as you’re not afraid of heights.”

Aerial shot of colourful rows of tulips
The area is famous for its tulip farms.(ABC Landline: Fiona Breen)

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Melbourne’s coronavirus work-from-home rules may have saved outer-suburban workers thousands of dollars

Sandra Steven’s family has had four people working or studying from home during the COVID-19 pandemic, but she says that has been more relaxing than her usual long commutes to work from Melbourne’s outer south-east.

The software consultant would normally leave her house in Berwick about 7:00am and wouldn’t return home until about 6:00pm.

But that changed when she moved to working from home full-time because of the coronavirus pandemic.

“Now I get to sleep in, I probably get up at 7:30am and am at work in the loungeroom by 8:00am,” she said.

And Ms Steven said when she finishes work at 4:30pm she is available straight away to spend time with her family, or help out around the house, because she no longer has a commute.

In the past, she has had travelled for up to 90 minutes each way to get to and from work.

“I am a lot less tired,” she said of her experience working from home.

Ms Steven said she now didn’t have the stress of juggling work and making sure she was able to pick her son up on time and she was saving money she would normally spend on petrol and buying lunches and coffee.

She is not the only person in her house who has shifted to working from home.

Ms Steven said her family was lucky they had the space to spread out.

She said she had previously worked about a day a fortnight from home, but had enjoyed the experience of working from home full-time during the pandemic.

Push to allow people to work from home after restrictions ease

The National Growth Areas Alliance — a peak body representing councils in Australia’s outer suburb growth areas — commissioned a study into people working from home during the pandemic.

The study included a survey of more than 6,000 Australians and nearly 2,000 people from outer-suburban growth areas.

It’s executive officer, Bronwen Clark, said the study found more than half-a-million Australians living in outer suburbs could work from home after restrictions ease.

“That’s over 500,000 people off the roads, and not overcrowding trains and public transport, and they’re saving a lot of money every year,” she said.

She said of the people surveyed from outer suburbs, more than half said they would like to continue working from home at least one day a week, after coronavirus restrictions ease.

She said working-from-home options had particular benefits for mums living in outer suburbs.

A woman with shoulder length brown hair stands in a driveway with houses behind her on a sunny day.
Bronwen Clark says the shift towards people working from home could have an enormous impact on where infrastructure is built in Australia.(ABC News: Andrew Altree-Williams)

“Women in outer suburbs quite often just don’t have the time in a day to combine getting children to childcare, commuting into the city for work and getting back in time (to pick their children up),” she said.

Ms Clark said she hoped the move to working from home during the pandemic for many Australians, led to long-term changes.

“People from the outer suburbs working from home were more productive, they are happier, they are healthier and they are experiencing much better relationships with other people in their households,” she said.

Ms Clark said her organisation hoped to see more workforces using decentralised or satellite offices in the future so workers didn’t continue to have extremely long commutes.

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Duchess of Sussex’s friends can stay anonymous in privacy case, U.K. judge rules

A British judge ruled Wednesday that the Duchess of Sussex can keep the names of five close friends secret while she brings a privacy invasion lawsuit against a British newspaper — but he chided both sides in the case for playing out their battle in the media as well as the courtroom.

High Court Judge Mark Warby said, “I have concluded that, for the time being at least, the court should grant the claimant the order that she seeks,” protecting the anonymity of friends who defended the former Meghan Markle in the pages of a U.S. magazine.

The duchess is suing the publisher of the Mail on Sunday and the MailOnline website over five articles that published portions of a handwritten letter she wrote to her estranged father, Thomas Markle, after her marriage to Prince Harry in 2018.

Meghan, 39, is seeking damages from publisher Associated Newspapers Ltd. for alleged misuse of private information, copyright infringement and data protection breaches.

The duchess asked the judge to prohibit publishing details of female friends who spoke anonymously to People magazine to condemn the alleged bullying she had received from the media. She argued that the friends were not parties to the case and had a “basic right to privacy.”

The women’s names are included in a confidential court document, but they have been identified in public only as A to E.

Associated Newspapers’ attorney Antony White said during a court hearing last week that the friends were potential witnesses in the case, and keeping their names secret “would be a heavy curtailment of the media’s and the defendant’s entitlement to report this case and the public’s right to know about it.”

The judge acknowledged he had to balance “the competing demands of confidentiality and open justice.”

‘Glare of publicity’

Warby ruled in favour of anonymity, saying it would serve justice by shielding Meghan’s friends from the “glare of publicity” in the pretrial stage of the case.

“Generally, it does not help the interests of justice if those involved in litigation are subjected to, or surrounded by, a frenzy of publicity,” he said. “At trial, that is a price that may have to be paid in the interests of transparency. But it is not a necessary concomitant of the pretrial phase.”

No date has been set for the full trial, which is likely to be one of the highest-profile civil cases in the U.K. for years.

The judge said that in pretrial wrangling, each side had “overstated its case” and made “hyperbolic assertions” about the other.

“Neither side has, so far, been willing to confine the presentation of its case to the courtroom,” Warby said.

“Both sides have demonstrated an eagerness to play out the merits of their dispute in public, outside the courtroom, primarily in media reports.,” he said. “That approach to litigation has little to do with enabling public scrutiny of the legal process, or enhancing the due administration of justice.”

Associated Newspapers, which is contesting the duchess’s privacy-infringement claim, says it was Meghan’s friends who brought the letter into the public domain by describing it in the People article. One told the magazine that the duchess had written: “Dad, I’m so heartbroken. I love you. I have one father. Please stop victimizing me through the media so we can repair our relationship.”

The publisher’s lawyers argue that the information about the letter disclosed in the article must have come “directly or indirectly” from Meghan.

But Meghan’s attorney, Justin Rusbrooke, argued that the duchess was unaware her friends were speaking to the magazine. They say the anonymous interviews were arranged by one of the five friends, who was concerned about the toll media criticism was taking on the duchess, pregnant at the time with her first child.

American actress Meghan Markle, star of TV legal drama Suits, married Prince Harry, grandson of Queen Elizabeth, in a lavish ceremony at Windsor Castle in May 2018. Their son, Archie, was born the following year.

In January, the couple announced they were quitting royal duties and moving to North America, citing what they said was unbearable intrusion and racist attitudes from the British media. They are currently based in the Los Angeles area.

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AFL coronavirus rules breached by Collingwood coaches Nathan Buckley and Brenton Sanderson

Collingwood has been hit with an effective $25,000 fine from the AFL after senior coach Nathan Buckley and assistant coach Brenton Sanderson broke coronavirus protocols by playing a tennis match with people outside their club contacts.

In a statement, the AFL said the Magpies reported the breach of the Return to Play protocols to the league today after Buckley and Sanderson played the tennis game on Friday with “two people from outside of the approved club people”.

“Both Buckley and Sanderson immediately reported the inadvertent breach to Collingwood officials when they realised they didn’t have the appropriate approval to partake in the activity,” the statement said.

AFL general counsel Andrew Dillon said the league appreciated Collingwood’s self-reporting of the breach and had sanctioned them $50,000, half of which would be suspended.

“We note that tennis is an approved exercise activity however approved participants are limited to approved club staff, players, household members and immediate family,” he said.

“Notwithstanding the inadvertent nature of this breach, it doesn’t excuse the responsibility to abide by the protocols.”

Buckley and Sanderson ask to pay fine

In a separate statement, Collingwood said Buckley and Sanderson had accepted responsibility for their actions and had asked to personally pay the effective $25,000 fine themselves.

“At the time, we believed we had followed and adhered to the protocols as required but after returning to the hotel and readdressing the circumstances it became crystal clear that we had breached the current AFL protocols,” the pair were quoted as saying.

“The competition is asking its constituents to make great sacrifices for the show to go on and we have all accepted these for the long-term future of the industry and the privilege of participating within it.”

The club’s chief executive Mark Anderson said the breach was a “very disappointing reminder” of the vigilance required to keep the competition running.

“Our game has been granted the right to continue to play by governments around the country,” he said.

“In exchange for that right, we simply must do all that we can to protect the health of our players, staff and the communities in which we are living and playing.

“As a club, we apologise, vow to be better and fully accept the penalty.”

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