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Big telcos offer bonus-data deals but 3 provinces get better bargains





The holiday season has sparked another round of wireless wars: Rogers, Bell and Telus are all offering double the data (or more) on select mobile plans across the country.

But not all customers are thrilled because of glaring regional price differences: the best bonus-data deals by far are in Quebec, Manitoba and Saskatchewan — provinces which typically see better wireless plan prices.

“It’s pretty unfair,” said Matthew Warren, of Lansdowne, Ont., who signed up in August for a Rogers plan with 2 gigabytes (GB) of data for $75 a month.

For the same price, customers in Saskatchewan and Manitoba right now can get plans with 20 or 22 GB of data from the big three telcos.

Customers in those provinces can also score a plan with 30 or 31 GB for $85 a month, while in most of the rest of Canada $80-$85 will currently buy a monthly plan from the big three with just 5 GB of data — and that’s the bonus plan.

Rogers wireless deals in Saskatchwan are offering double the data (or more) on these plans for a limited time. (Rogers)

The exception is Quebec where the big three telcos are offering big bargains such as a monthly mobile plan with 12 GB for $64 a month.

The special offers are for a limited time, don’t include a phone and only apply to people activating new accounts or upgrading their device.

All the deals CBC News compared included unlimited Canada-wide calling.

Lots of local deals

When asked about provincial price differences, the big three said they offer various competitive promotions in different regions, especially during the holidays.

Telus also said competition and network costs are a factor in pricing.

“In every market our plans are priced to balance the highly competitive nature of the telecom sector against the significant investment required to build and maintain” our networks, spokesperson Page Casmiro said in an email to CBC News.

The provincial price differences never fail to upset some customers, especially after the CRTC — Canada’s telecom regulator — instructed Bell, Rogers and Telus to offer national low-cost data-only plans.

Unveiled this week, the data-only deals include 1 GB on the high-speed network for between $28 and $30 a month with the big three’s discount brands Virgin Mobile (Bell), Fido (Rogers) and Koodo (Telus). Fido’s plan includes unlimited texting.

Meanwhile, residents in Quebec can get a better deal with a current promotion from the same discount brands: a phone plan with 3 GB — three times the data — plus unlimited Canada-wide calling for just $35 a month.

A Koodo ad promoting a phone deal with 3 GB of data for $35 a month for Quebec residents only. (Koodo)

“It’s pretty ridiculous,” said cellular customer Karanvir Singh Thiara, of Surrey B.C.

“The fact that they’re able to give that right now in Quebec — that’s what the CRTC should mandate across Canada.”

Bell and Rogers pointed out that the Quebec deal is a limited-time promotion, whereas the new low-cost data-only plans are part of the regular offering. 

Competitive prices

Mobile customer Warren, of Lansdowne, is also perturbed by the provincial price differences, especially considering Ontario has the biggest population in Canada.

“The customers are in greater numbers there, so they should have the same access to good deals,” said the 16-year-old, who shares the cost of his plan with his mom.

Following an investigation, Canada’s Competition Bureau concluded in 2017 that wireless pricing in Saskatchewan, Manitoba and Quebec “is substantially lower than in the rest of Canada” due to the presence of a strong regional competitor in each of those markets.

The competitors at the time were Vidéotron in Quebec, Sasktel and Manitoba Telecom Services (MTS). Since that time, Bell has taken over MTS.

But tech expert Daniel Bader says MTS was a strong regional player that has left a legacy of competitive pricing.

“This is what consumers expect in Manitoba — as well as Saskatchewan and Quebec — and they won’t stand for anything less.”

In other provinces, customers are more accustomed to higher prices, said Bader, a managing editor with tech site Mobile Nations.

Low-cost competitor Freedom Mobile, which rebranded in 2016 from what was Wind Mobile, did prompt Rogers, Bell and Telus to offer a $60 10 GB monthly plan in December 2017 in Ontario, B.C. and Alberta. However, that deal was short-lived.

Do we may too much?

Consumer advocacy group Open Media argues provincial price differences show that the federal government has to foster more competition to help drive down prices nationwide.

“The only true solution to this is to bring more players in the marketplace,” said executive director Laura Tribe.

A new price-comparison study commissioned by the government found that although domestic mobile plan prices generally decreased this year compared to 2017, those prices are still often higher than plans in other G7 countries and Australia. 

A new federal government report says that Canadians continue to pay some of the highest mobile plan prices in the industrialized world. (CBC)

When comparing major Canadian cities, the study also found that average mobile plan prices were generally lowest in Winnipeg, Montreal and Regina.

However, a new counter-report funded by Telus claims the annual government-commissioned study uses flawed methodology because it doesn’t factor in variables such as promotions, contract terms and population density.

When those variables are taken into account, the counter-report said, Canadians generally pay cheaper prices than what the same plan would cost in other industrialized countries.

It also found that, overall, there wasn’t much difference in regional pricing in Canada.

“The [Canadian telecom] markets under study are competitive and hence do not require regulatory intervention,” concluded the report by research firm NERA Economic Consulting.


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Real Estate

Window repair or replacement is the responsibility of the condo corporation





If the windows in your condo are hazy, drafty, or have rotting frames, it’s an indicator that they need repairs or outright replacement.

However, under the Condominium Act, it is the responsibility of the condo’s board to carry out such changes as a replaced window is a common element.

“Under the Condominium Act, a declaration may alter the maintenance or repair obligations of unit owners and the corporation but cannot make unit owners responsible for repairs to the common elements,” said Gerry Hyman is a former president of the Canadian Condominium Institute and contributor for the Star.

“A declaration for a high-rise condominium invariably provides that the unit boundary is the interior surface of windows. That means that the entire window — whether it is a single pane or a double pane — is a common element. Necessary repairs or replacement of a broken pane is the obligation of the corporation.”

According to Consumer Reports, selecting an installing windows replacement can be very overwhelming for homeowners. Therefore, if you aren’t covered by your condo’s corporation, it would be necessary to hire professional hands.

Wood, vinyl and composite windows need to be tested on how they can withstand various natural elements. For wind resistance, a window can be very tight when it’s warm but get quite cold too—especially when it begins to leak a lot.

Whatever the case may be, the bottom line remains that replacement windows can save you heating and cooling costs, but it’s best not to expect drastic savings.

Additionally, while getting a new window might help you save on your electric and gas bills, due to their expensive cost, it may take a long time to offset their cost.

Mid-last-year, the government withdraw a $377 million Green Ontario program that provided subsidy on windows to installers and repairers. Window companies had to install energy-efficient windows in order to qualify for the government subsidy that pays for up to $500 of a $1,000 to $1,500 window.

Due to the largely generous subsidies from the government under the Green Ontario program, a lot of window dealers were fully booked for months—even after the program had ended.

“We’re fine with the program ending, we just need more time to satisfy consumers,” said Jason Neal, the executive director of the Siding and Window Dealer Association of Canada, the industry group representing window dealers in a report.

According to Neal, the Progressive Conservatives acted hastily, making massive changes with no prior notice.

“No notification was given to us by anyone,” he said, noting he learned about the change through one of his dealers.

“It’s created a ripple effect.If they had just given us notice we would have pushed that down the line from the manufacturer right into the dealer right down to the consumer.”

Neal noted that he wasn’t particularly sad to see the Green Ontario program end, as it was “the worst rebate program in the history of the window industry.”

“It’s been horrible,” he said. “$500 a window has created such hysteria.”

However, despite the program ending about a year ago, numerous homeowners have been contacting window dealers consistently with concerns that they might not be able to afford replacement windows without the government’s subsidy.

“I understand their concern,” said window dealer Chris George. “I would suggest they reach out to their local representative of the government in their riding and let them know about their concerns.”

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Real Estate

7 Vancouver Real Estate Buying Tips





The real estate market in Vancouver is turning around for good for everyone looking to purchase a home.

Previously soaring prices are now beginning to ease up, making it a perfect time for buyers—with real estate agents already getting ready for a very busy spring and summer season.

However, before splashing cash on a new property, there are some very important tips you need to know to ensure you make the most of the buyer’s market.

Here are some few expert tips that would guide you when purchasing a home in the sometimes frustration Vancouver seller’s market.

  1. Get adequate financing

It is very important that before you make the move to purchase a property, you put into careful consideration your credit score.

Normally, home buyers with lower scores use the secondary mortgage market to finance their purchase, as they’re more likely to pay a higher interest rate.However, it is advisable to get loan approval long before purchasing the house. This way, you are fully aware of how much you are able to spend—but never be tempted to borrow the maximum amount of money available.

“What’s your mortgage payment that you’re comfortable with? And take into the fact the taxes you’re going to have to pay, if it’s a strata – what the maintenance fees are, if it’s a home what type of maintenance are you going to have to pay in the future?” said Phil Moore, president of the Real Estate Board of Greater Vancouver in a report.

Always be careful of the type of loan you secure and ensure that you can comfortably afford it over a long period of time.

  1. Get a real estate agent

Buying a property without professional help is a very risky move and can be likened to choosing to represent yourself in court without a lawyer. While you might trust your negotiation skills, only realtors are permitted to present offers directly.

Therefore, it is necessary to get a professional real estate agent in the area to represent you. So, screen a few agents and select the best one who has in-depth knowledge of the markets and has a great reputation.

“They’re there to protect you. They’re there to walk you through each step of the process,” Moore said.

  1. Sign up for automated alerts

Most—if not all—realtors have access to the Vancouver real estate board’s database which is updated approximately two days before the public MLS website.

Therefore, you can request from your realtor to sign you up for automatic real-time alerts of all new listings. Doing this gives you an edge as you’re among the very first to know about new properties.

  1. Do a thorough inspection

After receiving an alert for a new listing, it is necessary to push almost immediately for an inspection from your realtor. In this current market, buyers now have time to make an inspection.

Making a quick inspection eliminates any surprises—as there could be major maintenance or repair issues that could spring up. Therefore, you can now table your offer based on the outcome of the inspection, with clauses about claiming your damage deposit back if everything isn’t as was advertised.

Additionally, if you notice that renovations were done, you need to be sure that it was permitted work and carried out appropriately. Failing to do this would ultimately lead to further cost down the line and simultaneously affect the resale value.

  1. Have a back-up plan

There’s always the possibility that everything may not go as smoothly as you’d want. From the inspection being a failureto the property not living up to your expectations—or not being able to agree on the closing date that matches with your needs.

However, a professional real estate agent will definitely help you get past all of these things. If you plan on selling the property as you buy, you can table that and make it part of the deal.

“You’ve got an option, especially in a buyer’s market: you can put in an offer subject to selling your place. So maybe you want to have a place lined up,” Moore added.

Additionally, building contingencies into your buying plan is necessary. Things such as unexpected delays in closing the deal, closing cost and moving costs that could result in added living expenses if that’s your permanent home.

  1. Don’t fall for the buyer frenzy

The Vancouver market buying frenzy that caused a serious climb in the prices a couple of years ago has ended. Thus, it is important not to get caught up in bidding wars with properties that have been deliberately under-priced—with the hope of initiating multiple offers.

“Some of the sellers have been on the market for over a year and they’re eager to sell. So what I’m saying to consumers is: you have a lot of choices, you’re in the driver’s seat, let’s go out and take a look at what’s available,” said Moore.

  1. Never be wary of multiple offers

When purchasing a property, don’t be afraid of multiple offers as you have the same opportunity as anybody else.

Typically, there are just a few offers below the asking price: a couple priced fully, and two or three above the asking price—depending on how close the fair market value is from the asking price.

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Real Estate

Do you know what kind of condo you’re buying?





(NC) Condominiums can come in all shapes and sizes. But it’s important to know that not all condos are created equal when it comes to warranty coverage.

Whether you’re buying a condominium townhouse, loft-style two-bedroom or a high-rise studio, they are all classified as condominiums if you own your unit while at the same time share access (and the associated fees) for facilities ranging from pools and parking garages to elevators and driveways, otherwise known as common elements.

The most common types of condos are standard condominiums and common elements condominiums. The determination of how a condominium project is designated happens during the planning stage when the builder proposes the project and the municipality approves it.

When you’re in the market to buy, you need to know how your chosen condo is classified because it affects the warranty coverage under the Ontario New Home Warranties Plan Act. Standard condominiums have warranty coverage for units and common elements, but common elements condominiums only have unit coverage.

How could this affect you as the owner? If your condo complex has underground parking and, for example, there are problems with leaks or a faulty door, the condo designation will determine whether there’s warranty coverage.

If your unit is a standard condominium development, then the common elements warranty may cover the repairs. If it’s a common element condominium development, then repairs might have to be covered by the condo corporation’s insurance, which could impact your condo fees or require a special assessment on all the owners.

To avoid surprises, you should have a real estate lawyer review the Declaration and Description attached to your purchase agreement to be sure that you know the designation and boundaries of the unit you’re looking to purchase. Find more information on the types of condos and their coverage at

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