Month: May 2022

Do economic sanctions work? | Markets & Morality

Since the Russian aggression towards Ukraine, Western countries have imposed a wide range of economic sanctions on the regime and on individuals linked to them.

How effective are these sanctions and who are they meant to target?

Adam Bartha welcomed Jessica Miller, the Founder of Strela Advisory and Fred Roeder, the Founder of Consumer Choice Center to debate the issue. Fred highlighted that the belated European actions against Russian are necessary to stop Russian’s ability to inflict further pain on their neighbours, even if it has high economic costs on EU countries. Jessica argued against broad-based economic sanctions implemented for individuals, as the believes they are ineffective in changing Putin’s mind and deteriorate the rule of law in European countries.

The Devastating Impact of the FDA’s Proposed Menthol & Flavored Cigarette Ban

The FDA’s announcement to ban the sale of menthol cigarettes and flavored cigars has been roundly condemned from all sides of the political spectrum, and is opposed by groups as diverse as American Council on Civil Liberties (ACLU), Rev. Al Sharpton’s National Action Network, the National Black Justice Coalition, Americans for Tax Reform, Americans for Prosperity, and Heritage Action for America.

Americans for Tax Reform convened a virtual seminar on the impact of this proposed ban with policy & law enforcement experts, covering the science and evidence (or lack thereof) underpinning the ban, the disastrous implications for law enforcement and vulnerable minority populations, the consequences of a thriving black market, and alternative, proven methods of tobacco harm reduction the FDA should be enacting instead of prohibition.

Vape industry urges govt to implement long-delayed vape regulations

Instead of banning vape products wholesale, vape industry players are urging the government to implement long-delayed regulations for the industry.

The Malaysia Retail Electronic Cigarette Association (MRECA) president Datuk Adzwan Ab Manas, in a statement issued recently, said a taxation framework for vape liquids with nicotine was supposed to be implemented from January 1 this year but has been delayed four months because the Ministry of Health (MoH) still has not implemented regulations for the industry.

Ironically, this delay has not only left the industry in limbo but has resulted in the government listing more than RM750 million a year in tax revenue.

This breaks down to the government losing approximately RM62 million every month from the failure to collect taxes.

Read the full article here

The PFAS Packaging Predicament: McDonald’s Isn’t Loving It

The packaging of a number of popular food items has attracted the attention of Consumer Reports, given the presence of per-and polyfluoroalkyl substances (PFAS), because of which fast-food giant McDonald’s is currently facing class-action lawsuits. Claimants are citing health risk concerns, yet McDonald’s is currently abiding by industry standards. So let’s review what PFAS are, some contradictions for this case, and the overall implications of PFAS for business practices.

What are PFAS and what are the concerns?

PFAS is a chemical family of over 9,000 man-made substances, ranging from gas to liquids, which have a variety of applications, from being a moisture barrier for tech gadgets to serving as a means for improving the durability of medical implants

PFAS are present in numerous household items, and are often referred to as ‘Forever Chemicals’ given the difficulty in breaking down their concocted components. It is precisely this lasting power that makes PFAS appealing for food containers. Packaging with PFAS can handle heat, steam, saturation, and grease – making it quite the innovation. 

The superior functionality of PFAS, however, doesn’t mean they should be used in excess. Just because someone has a fast car doesn’t mean he should recklessly speed down the highway. 

To be sure, there are significant health risks when overexposure to PFAS occur and spillovers sometimes happen. Fortunately though, a 2018 Toxicological Profile for Perfluoroalkyls by the Agency for Toxic Substances & Disease Registry says that “industrial releases have been declining since companies began phasing out the production and use of several perfluoroalkyls in the early 2000s.” In addition to that, a CDC report shows that since 2000, “mean blood levels of PFOS have declined approximately 84 percent and mean blood levels of PFOA have declined about 70 percent,” and recent reports are showing that bodies of water contain only trace amounts of PFAS, and they have been declining.

When higher levels of PFAS are found to be present in ground materials and waterways, it is often connected to communities with nearby military bases and fire training sites. PFAS are a major component for firefighting foam, and although this foam does pose serious health hazards, there is currently no alternative that is as effective

Given this understanding, it seems obvious that the focus should be on how to prevent the need for using firefighting foam rather than the banning of PFAS altogether. Just like that fast car, it is handy to have in an emergency (and blanket bans rarely result in positive outcomes).

What’s next and what was already in the works?

It should be noted that if McDonald’s could have more environmentally friendly packaging, it likely would. According to its 2020-2021 Purpose and Impact Progress Reportlast year, it made great strides in ensuring that a majority of its food packaging (99.6 percent) was derived from recycled or sustainable fiber. The report states “Improving the sustainability of our packaging and moving toward a circular economy are top priorities for our business.” 

But change takes time, and it is not clear as to what the lawsuit claimants would have McDonald’s do in the meantime – revert to Styrofoam? And to be frank, McDonald’s founding core competencies were in serving customers burgers and fries, not sustainable sourcing or package manufacturing.

PFAS will likely remain a core component of containerization strategies for food retailers until something better comes along that is either comparable or superior. And actually, McDonald’s may help lead the charge with funding to find alternative options given its previous pledge to continuously improve in this realm. 

In a statement given to Today, McDonald’s asserted that it “stands behind its commitment to the safety of its food and food packaging” and that the process of taking steps to remove PFAS use in packaging began in 2008 with a target to completely eliminate it by 2025.

So to get slammed with a lawsuit for its packaging seems like a slap in the face, particularly since many restaurant chains are aspiring to recoup lost profits as pandemic policies are lifted. And for restaurants aspiring for a rebound, calls for modifying packaging purchases may be too much to bear during a time of supply chain constraints.

What are the intentions and contradictions?

For those truly scared of PFAS presence at McDonald’s, it is important to remember that no one is forcing anyone to eat there (and those concerned should probably refrain from fast food altogether, given that a majority of restaurants from Panera to Popeyes have PFAS levels found in their packaging).

The hard truth is that being good for the environment isn’t always conducive to current needs. Take for example the extreme use of single-use plastics throughout the pandemic, let alone the pollution generated from disposable masks

It is also important to remember that when we pressure firms to do what is thought to be better, it can sometimes turn out to be worse – take how the banning of plastic straws can backfire, or how cotton tote bags can be a bigger problem than their plastic counterparts, or how even tree-planting campaigns can become environmentally costly.

As with all in life, there are tradeoffs – which is why PFAS use should be assessedaccording to the risk-related exposure for each chemical as well as the purpose of its use. Effort should also be placed on how best to test and treat PFAS presence when it does reach hazardous levels and any discovery of the misuse of these chemicals should be punished. 

And this brings us to the irony of the McDonald’s packaging problem. It is doing nothing wrong since the FDA has approved the use of PFAS in food packaging. 

As noted by the FDA, “the FDA does not have any indication that these substances are a human health concern, in other words a food safety risk in human food, at the levels found in this limited sampling.”

As such, the present lawsuits are not only a curious occurrence, but impose unwarranted pressure on any retailer tied to PFAS presence. 

And for those jumping on the bandwagon as a contributor to the fast-food court case claims, consideration should be given to the collateral damage that may occur. Over 90 percent of McDonald’s restaurants are franchises, meaning most McDonald’s stores are owned and operated by small business owners within your community. 

Smaller shops unaffiliated with McDonald’s may also be affected and fearfully pivot their packaging purchases despite the fact that what is being used is safe and approved, which is an important point: McDonald’s must consider more than the safety of the environment; it also must ensure the safety (as well as satisfaction) of its customers. For example, although PLA (polylactic acid)-coated paper could be an alternative packaging choice for McDonald’s, this material is not well-suited for heat transfer, and so someone ordering a hot beverage may feel the burn (and McDonald’s is no stranger to coffee-related court cases). 

What is the role for the consumer?

Before complaining in court or accusing wrongdoing, customers should cool it with the sue-happy culture and take accountability for the role they play, since history has shown that regardless of whether an organization wishes to do good for the planet, it is all for naught if consumers are not on board. 

And perhaps no firm knows this better than Frito Lay. For four years, it invested in the creation of a fully compostable bag for its SunChip snacks, only to have it be phased out in a matter of 18 months due to consumer complaints. The reason for shunning the SunChip sustainability effort was simply because consumers didn’t like the noise it made. 

Just imagine the number of complaints that McDonald’s would receive from boisterous buyers if its packaging failed to keep grease drippings at bay, or the heat of coffee contained. 

Considerations and Implications

New inventions are making the world better and safer every day, and given that PFAS impact numerous industries, there is a strong incentive for alternative innovations to come about over time to appease the various stakeholders present – thereby leading to safer options. 

Take for instance, vaping, which is 95 percent less harmful than cigarettes. Vaping has proved to be a worthwhile alternative for those seeking to quit but have found little success in kicking their smoking habit. Although it’d be best not to ingest any nicotine from the start, vaping is certainly a step in the right direction for those eager to transition away from tobacco consumption. 

And, while on the subject of consumption, most people would probably be better off not eating Big Macs on a regular basis. Even McDonald’s acknowledges this and has rolled out the McPlant – a vegan friendly alternative. And for now, McPlant sales are proving strongand PFAS packaging concerns don’t seem to be a deterrent. 

At the end of the day, experimentation is necessary for firms to advance their offerings, which can lead to an improved society. A marketplace that binds entrepreneurs with rules and rulings will hardly encourage exploration for innovations – and firms will grow to fear their customer base rather than have a desire to cater to them. Consumers should be wary of using the power of the courts rather than the power of their purse to influence business practices.

Originally published here

Zoning reform should be an election priority

Canada ranks dead last in housing units per 1,000 people in the G7, and Ontario is the lead cause, David Clement and Yael Ossowski write.

Ontario NDP Leader Andrew Horwath has unveiled the NDP’s platform in the lead up to the next election, with a policy plank putting an end to exclusionary zoning. For many, this is a bold move from the Official Opposition. It also happens to be a policy change that Ontario desperately needs.

Exclusionary zoning are prohibitions on multi-family housing units ultimately limiting the number of housing units available in a city. Simply put, peeling back exclusionary zoning gives property owners more freedom to build different types of housing, increasing the housing stock, something that Ontario needed yesterday.

Nationally, Canada ranks dead last in housing units per 1,000 people in the G7, and Ontario is the lead cause. Ontario only has 398 units per 1,000 people and needs to build another 650,000 units just to get to the national average.

In Hamilton, buyers and renters are feeling the pain caused by the chronic undersupply of housing. Average home prices are now over $1 million, inflating 25 per cent year-over-year. And the pain isn’t just being felt by those looking to buy a home. Undersupply is putting upward pressure on rental prices as well. The average rent for a two-bedroom apartment is $1,841. That rent requires an income of at least $82,000, but the average family in Hamilton has a pre-tax income of only $66,460. As the housing crisis worsens, the average home, both buying and renting, is out of reach for the average family.

Beyond making life more affordable, increasing the housing stock also grows the economy. Research on zoning rules in the U.S., which mirror what we see in Canadian cities, showed that housing constraints lowered U.S. aggregate growth by 36 per cent from 1964 to 2009.

But, some who oppose density will likely rehash the argument that increased density, despite growing the economy, is bad for the environment. Time and time again, NIMBY voices argue against increased density because of the perception that increased density is a net negative for the environment. It’s not true.

In fact, according to the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) more compact cities could reduce urban emissions by upwards of 25 per cent. This should be intuitive for policy-makers. If people can live closer to where they work, the stores they shop at, the restaurants they dine at, or where they seek entertainment, they ultimately drive less. Whether it be by foot, transit or bike, compact cities actually allow for people to reduce their carbon footprint, not increase it.

And it isn’t just emissions that are reduced by zoning reform. The same goes for water usage. According to the peer reviewed journal Landscape and Urban Planning, single family irrigation rates are 48 per cent higher than multi family housing units.

While the NDP is making steps in the right direction on zoning reform, they are taking a giant step backwards with their proposal to give municipalities more decision-making power by reforming the Ontario Land Tribunal. Giving more power to local councillors is exactly what got Ontario, and Hamilton, into this mess. Zoning reform is needed, but emboldening local governments with more decision-making power is bad policy, and one that could undermine the value of zoning reform.

Hamilton needs more homes. Ending exclusionary zoning is a great step in the right direction. Whether blue, orange, or red, all political parties, both federally and provincially, need to make zoning reform a priority. 

Originally published here

Chaiwut Thanakamanusorn is right: Thailand can save lives and promote innovation by legalizing nicotine alternatives

Bangkok, TH – As Thailand considers revising its ban on harm reducing nicotine delivery products, a global consumer advocacy group is praising the actions of Digital Economy and Society Minister Chaiwut Thanakamanusorn, who has recognized the importance of harm reduction in saving the lives of smokers who want to quit.

“The growing body of evidence from countries around the world points to a steep decrease in smoking rates once we allow harm reducing nicotine alternatives such as vaping products, snus, nicotine pouches, and heated tobacco products,” said Yaël Ossowski, deputy director of the Consumer Choice Center. “The smoking rate in the United States, Canada, and the United Kingdom are already at historical lows.

“Considering that over 50,000 Thai die each year due to smoking, amending the current bans and restrictions on these alternative nicotine products would mean lives would be saved almost immediately.

“In that, we praise the comments and recent actions of Digital Economy and Society Minister, Chaiwut Thanakamanusorn, who has been willing to hear the evidence on the scientific and health evidence in favor of vaping and nicotine alternatives and has made the case for how innovation in harm reduction can help save lives,” said Ossowski.

“In addition, the National Tobacco Products Control Committee’s ban on vaping imports has paved the way for a dangerous illicit market, meaning that ordinary Thai citizens who gain access to these life-saving products are not only at risk of significant fines by authorities, but also face more health risks related to illicit products that are not inspected and regulated by state agencies. Added to that, the government is losing out on potentially millions in tax revenue that could be used to fund healthcare, education, and vital social projects.

“If Thailand were to embrace innovation and endorse a strategy of harm reduction, they would not only be saving potentially millions of lives, but the country would also create a new wave of entrepreneurial investment and drive that would surely lead to an economic boom,” concluded Ossowski.

April 2022

The CCC team is back to deliver the latest updates! We have been working hard defending consumer choice around the world and we are excited to share our accomplishments with you!

Freedom to Choose – Our new podcast in Brazil!

Earlier this year, Fabio, our Head of Communications, launched “Liberdade para Escolher” (Freedom to Choose) – a brand new podcast in Portuguese. Freedom to Choose is the first program in Portuguese dedicated to consumer freedom. From market news, tech, and innovation, to laws and regulations. Each week, Fabio brings you, in a light and enjoyable way, the hottest topics that affect consumers, so you are always well informed.

What are you waiting for? Give it a listen and share it with your Portuguese-speaking friends!

Non-Alcoholic beer will be exempt from excise tax!

It’s always a pleasure to see a positive change in policies we have advocated for. Our North American Affairs Manager, David, wrote an amazing piece about the problem of subjecting non-alcoholized beer to federal excise taxes and explained the arguments against the tax at the meeting with the Department of Finance. Canada’s  Budget 2022 removes alcohol excise taxes on beer containing no more than 0.5% alcohol by volume. This is another great victory for Canadian consumers!This is a step in the right direction and hopefully the start of a national discussion on modernizing the alcohol excise duty structure. 

A new policy paper analyzing the ongoing housing crisis in Canada is out!

Housing affordability is the most pressing issue for young Canadians. Our favorite duo of David and Yael partnered up once again to deliver a great policy paper that analyses current government efforts to fix the problem, in vain. Paper argues that government efforts are not properly addressing the root of the problem- chronic undersupply and provides policy suggestions to better tackle the issue.

It’s time to legalize vaping in Brazil! We have until May 11th!

 In early April, the National Health Surveillance Agency (ANVISA) opened a public consultation to collect technical and scientific information on electronic smoking devices (DEFs), popularly known as “vaping”. ANVISA’s objective is to collect information to support its future decisions regarding the import, sale, and advertising of these devices in Brazil. Since 2009, vaping has been banned by ANVISA, but it’s time to change this outdated law!
 To contribute to the consultation is easy!Download the file we’ve prepared hereGo to ANVISA’s websiteFill out the form and upload the file into section 17.Submit!

US was right to warn the EU about green agriculture

It took a war in Ukraine for the EU to realize how damaging its green ambitions could be. The war in Ukraine threatens food security not only in the poorest countries in Africa but on the wealthy European continent too. Maria put together this amazing piece where she argues this whole drama could have been avoided had the EU been more realistic and listened to the US’s concerns about the unrealistic Farm to Fork strategy embedded in the European Green Deal.

Don’t be fooled by those who want to save you from tech monopolies

What could go wrong if we invite regulators to take more control of how large tech companies operate? Everything!Yael argues that if antitrust actions go too far they won’t deliver perfect competition and vast choice, as intended. It would simply deny internet consumers of innovative options and stall the entrepreneurial forces that have allowed them to grow and provide value.
That’s a wrap for this month! Make sure to follow us on our social media channels to get all the updates we couldn’t fit in here! See you next month

Mewujudkan 2022 Sebagai Tahun Hak Cipta

Perlindungan hak cipta merupakan salah satu aspek yang tidak bisa dipisahkan untuk mendorong industri seni dan kreatif di sebuah negara, termasuk juga di Indonesia. Perlindungan hak cipta memberikan perlindungan terhadap para inovator dan pekerja industri kreatif dan seni agar karya mereka tidak disalahgunakan, dan juga agar mereka bisa mendapatkan manfaat dari karya yang dibuatnya.

Bila hak cipta dari sebuah karya dilindungi dengan baik, maka hal tersebut akan dapat mencegah pihak-pihak yang tidak bertanggung jawab untuk membajak karya-karya tertentu yang sudah dengan susah payah dibuat oleh para pekerja seni dan industri kreatif, demi keuntungan mereka sendiri. Dengan demikian, para pekerja seni tidak akan mampu untuk mendapatkan manfaat, khususnya manfaat ekonomi, dari karya yang mereka buat.

Dengan demikian, hal ini tentu akan sangat merugikan para pekerja seni dan juga industri kreatif. Bila hal ini kerap dibiarkan, dan pembajakan semakin merajalela, tidak mustahil hal ini akan semakin mengurangi insentif seseorang untuk berkarya dan juga berinvestasi di industri seni dan industri kreatif di Indonesia, dan hal ini akan semakin mempersulit perkembangan industri seni dan industri kreatif di negara kita.

Seiring dengan pertumbuhan teknologi, perlindungan hak cipta menemukan tantangan baru, salah satunya adalah dengan semakin pesatnya teknologi informasi, seperti koneksi internet yang semakin meluas. Tidak bisa dipungkiri, bahwa perkembangan teknologi telah membawa banyak manfaat besar bagi puluhan juta orang di Indonesia. Melalui internet misalnya, kita bisa dengan mudah mencari informasi dan belajar mengenai hal-hal baru.

Tetapi di sisi lain, tidak bisa dibantah juga bahwa perkembangan teknologi yang semakin besat juga membawa banyak tantangan lain yang harus kita selesaikan, salah satunya adalah pembajakan dan distribusi konten-konten bajakan, seperti musik dan film, yang semakin mudah. Dunia maya menjadi platform bagi berbagai toko daring untuk menjual produk-produk bajakan kepada jutaan konsumen dari seluruh penjuru negeri.

Untuk itu, berbagai upaya penegakan untuk mengimplementasikan perlindungan terhadap hak cipta harus segera dilakukan. Hal ini bisa dalam berbagai bentuk, salah satunya misalnya adalah dengan menutup berbagai website dan situs yang menyediakan berbagai layanan produk-produk bajakan seperti film dan musik. Hal ini sendiri sudah dilakukan oleh pemerintah Indonesia (cnnindonesia.com, 21/12/2019).

Tetapi, implementasi untuk penegakan perlindungan hak cipta tidak cukup dengan menutup platform atau menangkap para pelaku pembajakan. Implementasi ini juga harus diikuti dengan perbaikan sistem untuk memudahkan para pekerja seni dan kreatif di Indonesia untuk mendaftarkan karya yang mereka buat, agar hak ciptanya bisa dilindungi.

Untuk mencapai hal tersebut, Kementerian Hukum dan HAM Republik Indonesia, atau Kemenkumham mencanangkan tahun 2022 ini sebagai “Tahun Hak Cipta.” Salah satu upaya untuk mengimplementasikan program yang dicanangkan tersebut adalah melalui peluncuran aplikasi yang bernama Persetujuan Otomatis Pencatatan Hak Cipta (POPHC) di awal tahun ini (dgip.co.id, 6/1/2022).

DIlansir melalui website Direktorat Jenderal Kekayaan Intelektual Kemenkumham, POPHC sendiri merupakan sebuah sistem yang dibuat oleh kemenkumham, yang difungsikan untuk mempercepat proses perstujuan hak cipta. Sebelumnya, proses persetujuan ini memakan waktu kurang lebih 1 hari. Melalui POPHC, proses persetujuan hak cipta hanya butuh dalam waktu hitungan menit (dgip.co.id, 6/1/2022).

Selain ditujukan untuk mendorong kemajuan ilmu pengetahuan, seni, dan sastra, POPHC sendiri merupakan salah satu sistem yang dibuat dalam rangka untuk mendukung program Percepatan Pemulihan Ekonomi Nasional (PEN). PEN sendiri merupakan salah satu rangkaian kegiatan yang dicanangkan pemerintah yang dimulai pada awal tahun 2020 lalu, untuk menanggulangi dampak negatif dari pandemi COVID-19 terhadap perekonomian (kemenkeu.go.id, 2020).

Sebagaimana kita tahu, pandemi COVID-19, yang saat ini masih berlangsung, telah membawa dampak yang sangat besar terhadap perekonomian di berbagai negara, termasuk juga sektor industri kreatif di Indonesia. Banyak para pekerja dan inovator di kreatif misalnya, yang tidak bisa mengadakan pertunjukan disebabkan karena pandemi tersebut.

Untuk itu, adanya sistem yang dapat membantu para pekerja dan inovator yang bergerak di industri kreatif merupakan sesuatu yang sangat penting, termasuk salah satunya dengan mempercepat proses pendaftaran hak cipta untuk mereka yang bekerja di industri kreatif. Dengan demikian, hak kekayaan intelektual yang mereka miliki atas karya yang dibuatnya bisa semakin terjaga.

Menteri Hukum dan HAM (Menkumham) Yasonna Laoly, juga mengatakan bahwa terdapat tren yang positif dari perkembangan ekonomi kreatif di Indonesia, dan hal ini menunjukkan potensi yang luar biasa dari ekonomi kreatif bagi ekonomi nasional di Indonesia. Salah satunya, hal ini bisa dilihat dari capaian distribusi royalti yang tinggi pada tahun 2020 sampai dengan pertengahan tahun 2021, yakni sebesar 51 miliar rupiah (kemenkeu.go.id, 2020).

Sebagai penutup, sistem yang ditujukan unutk mempercepat proses pendaftaran hak cipta merupakan salah satu hal yang sangat penting dalam rangka melindungi kekayaan intelektual yang dimiliki oleh para inovator dan pekerja kreatif di Indonesia. Semoga saja, melalui sistem POPHC, industri kreatif di Indoneia dapat semakin berkembang, dan kita dapat mewujudkan tahun 2022 sebagai tahun hak cipta.

Originally published here

Macron Will Have Little Time to Savor His Victory

Emmanuel Macron’s defeat of Marine Le Pen in France’s presidential election on Sunday was a victory for moderation over extremism. But despite the collective sigh of relief from the EU and many in the West, Macron’s work is just beginning and the road ahead is filled with obstacles. 

“Many of our compatriots voted for me not out of support for my ideas but to block those of the extreme right. I want to thank them and I know that I have a duty towards them in the years to come,” Macron said. 

Macron’s second-round campaign was carried by moderate left-wing voters, who wanted to prevent a Le Pen presidency. Marine Le Pen is widely seen as stigmatizing immigrants and religious minorities, all while opposing the European Union. Those voters made him one of the few French presidents to win a second term, but his margin of victory—58 percent to 41 percent—was not overwhelming and the abstention rate of 28 percent was the highest since 1969.

Most fascinating are the first numbers about the vote on Sunday, divided by age group and profession. Macron was largely supported by voters ages 18 to 24 and older than 70, while Le Pen carried 50- to 59-year-olds and was head to head with Macron in the 25 to 34 age bracket. Le Pen’s support mainly came from workers and employees in the private sector, while Macron got most of his support from government employees and retired citizens. 

Read the full article here


Pour ceux et celles qui souhaitent un meilleur avenir, être propriétaire d’une maison a toujours été un but principal à atteindre, surtout pour la génération des millénariaux.

Mais quand on regarde les prix des maisons qui gonflent, la concurrence massive dans l’achat des maisons et l’inflation qui gruge de plus en plus notre pouvoir d’achat, ce souhait n’est plus qu’un rêve.

Nous étions très contents de voir que le logement figure au centre du budget du premier ministre libéral Justin Trudeau. Mais au lieu d’avancer de vraies réformes afin de donner à notre génération les meilleurs moyens de devenir propriétaire, nous ne voyons que des actions symboliques. 

Mettre fin à l’investissement étranger, taxer les logements vacants et accorder encore plus de crédits d’impôt à ceux qui achètent leur première maison pourrait faire plaisir à plusieurs, mais ne permet pas de livrer ce que tous les économistes sérieux nous recommandent : construire plus de maisons.

Il y a assez d’argent dans le système (encore plus avec l’inflation), mais il n’y a pas assez de construction de nouvelles maisons et de condos. L’offre est limitée, la demande est en croissance.

Or, le problème au Canada n’est pas la demande pour les propriétés résidentielles. C’est l’offre. Il n’y en a pas assez pour notre population grandissante.

Au mois de février, le prix moyen d’une maison au Québec a augmenté à 474 941 $, une hausse de 18,3 % comparée à 2021. Le prix moyen des maisons vendues à Montréal est 18 % plus élevé et 12 % à Québec.

À Montréal, le prix moyen d’un appartement quatre et demie est de 1982 $, ce qui nécessite un salaire annuel de 89 000 $, tandis que le salaire moyen (avant impôt) ne représente que 56 220 $. 

Comme plusieurs autres l’ont reconnu, Montréal fait bonne figure, mais nous avons encore du travail à faire.

Au niveau fédéral, Ottawa aide les gens à épargner, mais ses politiques ne sont pas axées sur l’augmentation de l’offre de logements. Le gouvernement fédéral cherche à créer un nouveau compte d’épargne libre d’impôt pour l’achat d’une première maison, qui combine les aspects fiscaux d’un CELI et d’un REER, permettant aux Canadiens de mettre plus de 40 000 $ dans leur compte, de déduire l’épargne de leur revenu et de la retirer pour acheter une maison sans aucune obligation de remboursement.

Ils prévoient également doubler le crédit pour l’achat d’une première maison, qui passera de 5000 à 10 000 $. Bien que ces deux politiques améliorent l’épargne des acheteurs, si elles ne s’attaquent pas au problème de l’insuffisance chronique de l’offre, elles ne feront rien pour rendre les logements plus abordables. Au mieux, ces politiques aideront ceux qui cherchent activement à franchir la ligne d’arrivée, mais laisseront le marché immobilier inchangé.

D’autres politiques mises de l’avant par Ottawa, comme l’interdiction des offres à l’aveugle, ne font rien pour augmenter l’offre. William Strange, professeur d’analyse économique à l’Université de Toronto, explique qu’une interdiction des offres à l’aveugle ne réduirait pas les prix de manière significative et « qu’il n’y a aucune preuve économique que cela est important ». Les guerres d’offres sont un symptôme d’un marché de vendeurs extrême, et non la cause.

Le zonage d’exclusion est une politique qui vise à limiter le nombre de logements pouvant être construits sur une même propriété. Ces règles interdisent souvent les logements multifamiliaux ou fixent des exigences en matière de taille minimale des terrains. Ces restrictions finissent par limiter le nombre de logements disponibles dans une ville. 

Une interdiction de ce zonage donnerait aux propriétaires plus de liberté pour construire différents types de logements et augmenterait le parc immobilier. En mettant fin au zonage d’exclusion, les grands centres urbains comme Montréal pourraient immédiatement permettre la construction d’un plus grand nombre de duplex et de petits appartements. 

C’est exactement ce qui se fait à l’étranger pour lutter contre la hausse des prix. 

Par exemple, l’Oregon a récemment adopté une loi qui abolit le zonage unifamilial pour toutes les communautés de plus de 10 000 habitants. Les propriétaires pourront ainsi construire différents types de logements, s’ils le souhaitent, ce qui augmentera considérablement l’offre de logements.

La Nouvelle-Zélande a entamé le processus de restructuration de ses lois de zonage dans le but d’augmenter considérablement l’offre et d’exercer une pression à la baisse sur les prix. Le Brookings Institute, situé à Washington, a décrit l’approche de la Nouvelle-Zélande en matière de logement comme un modèle idéal à suivre pour les autres pays.

Il reste beaucoup à faire si nous souhaitons devenir un tel exemple à travers le monde. 

Les législateurs canadiens doivent suivre l’exemple de ceux de l’étranger, et même à Montréal, et faire de la réforme du zonage une priorité essentielle pour s’attaquer à la crise du logement. 

Si notre génération souhaite le même niveau de richesse que celle de nos parents, nous aurions besoin de vraies réformes au lieu des mesurettes qui ne s’attaquent qu’aux symptômes.

Originally published here

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