From inflation to housing, affordability anxiety shapes elections – National
From coast to coast to coast, growing anxiety over the rising cost of living has propelled affordability to the top of the federal election agenda in Canada.
The kitchen table economy remains firmly entrenched among the top five priorities for voters, even as concerns about COVID-19, which had ebbed earlier in the summer, become more acute amid the spread of the Delta variant , according to a recent Ipsos poll conducted exclusively for global news.
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But affordability concerns increasingly include two radically different sets of issues. On the one hand, there is rising inflation, forcing consumers of all ages, incomes and political persuasions to spend more to fill their tanks and grocery carts. On the other hand, a long-simmering accessibility crisis, covering the costs of housing, childcare and higher education, appears to have reached a boiling point, fueling angst among young people. voters in particular.
How federal parties react to the concerns of Canadians could have important implications for the election outcome, said Darrell Bricker, CEO of Ipsos Public Affairs Canada.
“This will really be an important issue for the Prime Minister, for the Leader of the Opposition, especially the leader of the third opposition party, the NDP, and also the Green Party,” said Bricker.
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Inflation raises ‘bread and butter’ worries
After remaining low for a decade, inflation has become a hot political topic in the current campaign.
On Wednesday, after Statistics Canada data showed the country’s inflation rate hit 3.7% in July – the highest since 2011 – Conservative leader Erin O’Toole threw blows at his two main opponents policies.
Speaking to reporters in Quebec City, O’Toole said the Liberal government’s approach to the economy is fueling the price hike, but also blamed Singh, saying the Liberals and NDP “are the due to inflation “.
Various factors related to the pandemic pushed up prices in Canada and the United States, where the annual inflation rate reached 4.3% in July.
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Inflation figures on both sides of the border are in part magnified by annual comparisons to the spring and summer months of 2020, when prices plunged amid a global economic rout.
But the current inflation surge is mainly the product of a mismatch between supply and demand, with consumer spending rebounding from the pandemic faster than production and transport capacity, economists say.
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Shortages of everything from lumber to semiconductor chips by automakers have spiked prices for everything from wood planks to used cars. At the same time, logistical bottlenecks and rising oil prices are pushing up transportation costs for businesses in all sectors, prompting some to pass at least part of the increase on to consumers.
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In Canada, gasoline prices have climbed more than 30% from the summer of 2020, a dramatic increase that reflects both the price of gas a year ago and the global oil production that has remained. lower than pre-pandemic levels despite a rebound in aggregate demand.
More expensive groceries and restaurant meals also weighed on Canadians’ wallets. Menu prices rose 3.1% in July from the same month last year, an increase that experts say likely reflects both rising ingredient costs and labor shortages. work across the country that have proven particularly serious in the restaurant industry.
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While prices in grocery stores have only increased by one percent, the overall number betrays sharp jumps in specific categories. Meat prices, for example, are up 3.1 percent from July last year, and dairy prices are up 3.5 percent.
“I feel like every time I go to the grocery store it’s a lot more and I get a lot less,” says Ron Treacy, a Winnipeg shopper who is now retired. “It’s almost like a luxury to eat healthy,” he adds.
And Canadians could be heading for an even bigger price shock in the grocery store aisle in the fall, due to the potential impact of the fires and summer drought in western Canada and the western United States, warn some food experts.
“The last time, in 2013 and 2014, that we saw a significant drought in western North America, we saw beef prices rise by about 25 percent,” said Michael von Massow of the Ministry of Food, Agriculture and Agriculture. The University of Guelph Resource Economics previously told Global News.
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Young Canadians Focus on Housing Crisis and Long-Term Affordability
While inflation has only recently resurfaced as a political issue, other costs of living that largely escape Statistics Canada’s Consumer Price Index have come to the fore in this election.
“The mood is anxious,” says Paul Kershaw, professor at UBC’s School of Population and Public Health and founder of Generation Squeeze, a nonprofit that advocates for young adults.
The angst over student debt, stagnant salaries, soaring house prices and high rents, as well as crushing child care costs, have been around for years, Kershaw says. But it increased during the pandemic, he says.
The national average price of homes in Canada rose 32% between July 2019 and July 2021, according to data from the Canadian Real Estate Association. And with small towns experiencing some of the biggest price increases, the pandemic has turned housing affordability from a largely limited problem in Vancouver and Toronto into a national emergency.
School and daycare closures during the COVID-19 emergency also propelled child care to the top of public debate.
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And the virus has also forced Ottawa to temporarily halt student loan payments and interest amid job losses that disproportionately affected young workers in the initial phase of the pandemic-related recession.
Pressed by fixed expenses like mortgages and high rents, as well as student loan repayments, many young Canadians have very little flexibility to absorb additional costs for things like food and transportation, says Parween Mander, millennium silver coach.
Fixed costs shouldn’t be more than 50 percent of monthly income, she says. “But I see a lot of my clients near or above that percentage, which makes it difficult for the affordability and flexibility of their paychecks, ”she says.
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With Generation Z and Millennials now making up 40% of the population, addressing these affordability issues has become a priority for all major parties.
Liberal Leader Justin Trudeau, O’Toole and NDP Leader Jagmeet Singh all recently called Canada’s housing problems a “housing crisis” during the election campaign, while Green Party Leader Annamie Paul called for “a affordable housing for all ”.
A $ 10-a-day universal child care system is a key campaign promise for the Liberals and the NDP, as the Conservatives unveiled a plan for a 75% tax credit for child care expenses for low income families. The Green Party has yet to release an election platform, but has already called for universal access to affordable child care.
Across the political spectrum, the current campaign marks a clear change in tone on the affordability issues that affect young Canadians, Kershaw says.
“I think we’re in a different place right now,” he said. “We are making progress, and I am delighted. “
– With reporting by Joe Scarpelli of Global News and a kit from the Canadian Press
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