As inflation gets worse, the average Canadian is having a hard time putting meals on the table and paying their bills, let alone indulging in leisurely shopping.
It is projected that next year could add an extra $1,065 to a four-person family’s grocery bill. Bank of Canada has announced seven interest rate hikes. Average rent across the nation has soared past $2,000 per month. Now we also know that starting next month, Canadians will see a smaller amount in their take-home income.
Even with government programs like the Canada Worker’s Benefit, the one-time renter top-up, and expanded eligibility for cheaper healthcare, many are finding that life is a lot more unaffordable than it has been in recent years.
Daily Hive asked hard-working Canadians how these national crises have been affecting them. The responses, many of which were anonymously submitted, showed a much darker picture than you might expect, nearly pushing some to contemplate ending their lives.
Canadians are stressed, anxious, hopeless, and most of all, furious. Here’s how their fight for survival is going.
Over half of our respondents said they’ve stopped buying certain food items entirely in order to afford groceries. The second most common way out was cutting other expenses to make sure there’s food on the table.
“I can no longer afford groceries” was the third most frequent response we got.
Jackie from Calgary is battling celiac disease. “In order to eat a balanced diet, I need fruits, vegetables, and meats. Pastas that are gluten-free are costly as are certified sauces and soups,” she explained.
The 49-year-old says her income as a minimum wage worker really limits her decisions as the cost of living climbs to new peaks.
Most Canadians did very little holiday shopping so they could still buy necessities. Nearly half either skipped shopping entirely, or only bought gifts for others, and nothing for themselves.
Rachel, 32, chose to just buy gifts for her friends and family. She had moved from Vancouver to Calgary in pursuit of a more affordable life, but Calgary’s rising prices quickly caught up to her, too, forcing her to move to a townhouse with a roommate.
“I already lived a frugal lifestyle and don’t have anything else to cut,” Rachel told us.
Paul, a healthcare worker and a single dad from Midland, Ontario, was just getting by during the pandemic. “Between childcare costs, food, gas, etc. We won’t have any Christmas presents this year,” he said.
Bills and housing
Nearly 32% of respondents said their ability to pay bills was affected by inflation. Many had to cut other expenses to make ends meet or dip into their savings.
Some are forced into a deepening ditch of debt in order to survive.
Recent immigrant Eoin is based in Vancouver and living with nine other people “because we can’t afford our own space.” They can also no longer afford groceries.
The 26-year-old feels robbed in Canada. “I came here to progress my career and live in what I thought was a first-world country,” Eoin told Daily Hive. “I do not plan on getting my permanent residency as I refuse to have to pay any further tax towards monopolies and incompetent governments who overreach on every turn.”
Those with a mortgage are facing demons of their own. In order to curb inflation, the Bank of Canada has hiked its interest rate to 4.25%, making mortgage payments a nightmare.
Paul, 34, says his mortgage payments have doubled this year. He’s worried he’ll lose his house and be on the streets by spring, if not sooner. “[Then] they will take my son from me,” he complained. “If I didn’t have a kid to support, I would be killing myself because I can’t do it anymore.”
Paying for a roof over their heads is one of the biggest priorities for marginalized groups.
“My spouse and I are both disabled. We already live in deep poverty due to meager disability payments. Our rent takes up 68% of our income. In order to avoid becoming homeless, paying the rent is our first priority,” 52-year-old Serena* from Montreal told us.
Serena and their spouse use food banks, but still don’t have enough to eat. They eat just one meal a day.
“We both worked and paid hefty taxes for decades. Now we are disabled and have lost everything. We eat one meal a day — usually canned beans… We are planning to apply for medical assistance in dying (MAID) in March 2023.”
Some people who responded to our survey said they had already been evicted after not being able to pay rent or had to move back home to live with their parents.
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“My job may be in future jeopardy as a result of clients drastically tightening their purse strings,” the 39-year-old shared. “We are only doing okay because we are ‘fortunate’ not to have children or dependents. My friends with children seem to struggle much more.”
Andrew B from Surrey, BC, lives with one other person, and their household income is $100,000 per year. Yet, Andrew is going into debt just to pay his bills.
“It’s really been a huge barrier for my wife and I to become homeowners when everything is so expensive, and when interest rates have gone through the roof as well,” he shared. “It’s made paying off debt next to impossible and we’re both working ourselves to the ground to keep up, and we have a combined six-figure income!”
The 35-year-old believes the government needs to look into imposing price caps on essential items: “[That] or implement a wealth tax where the revenue can be redistributed to the working class to help with the rising costs of everything.”
Names with an asterisk* next to them are aliases.