As Parliament Resumes, Federal Government Pledges to Make Life More Affordable For Canadians


Photo: Zachary Dobson/Getty Images

With our federal politicians returning to Ottawa after their lengthy Christmas vacation, they can expect to hear increasingly amplified calls from beleaguered voters struggling to cope with the affordability crisis.

The Consumer Price Index (CPI) rose last month to 3.4 per cent, with essentials like groceries, heating fuel and gas going up across the country and making household budgeting a challenge, especially for those seniors living on a fixed budget.

Bill Van Gorder, policy officer at CARP (a partner of ZoomerMedia), says he’s hearing from anxious members who are living on a fixed income expressing worries about rising costs.

“Inflation has gone up much quicker than the increases in government support that’s there, especially for low-income older Canadians,” he said, adding that many living in major cities are struggling with skyrocketing cost of housing.

Touting the government’s response to the higher cost of living, Finance Minister Chrystia Freeland and a group of ministers held a press conference in Ottawa to tout inflation remedies from the government’s Fall Economic Statement (FES), which the government says will make life more affordable for all Canadians.


Lower Grocery Prices


Industry Minister Francois-Philippe Champagne pledged that the government will bring down food prices through the recently-passed Affordable Housing and Groceries Act. He said that the government will use measures in the bill to pressure the five largest grocery chains to ensure price stability at the checkout.


Affordable Housing


The housing affordability crisis has become so serious that NDP Leader Jagmeet Singh today called for an “emergency debate regarding the ongoing housing and homelessness crisis throughout Canada.” But until that happens, Housing Minister Sean Fraser assured Canadians that the Housing Accelerator Fund will address the housing crisis by spurring the development of hundreds of thousands of new homes and rental units over the next few years.


Dental Care


Treasury Board Minister Anita Anand said the government’s efforts will focus on directing resources to the “most vulnerable.” A big part of this will be the rolling out of the dental care program will help families making less than $90,000 per year to access subsidized dental care. Enrollment in this $4.4 annual insurance plan started in December and will be completed in May for for people over 65.


Poilievre Riding High


Conservative party Opposition Leader Pierre Poilievre has used a strategy of blaming the Liberal Party for high inflation and the housing crisis to vault to the top of the polls, where his party now enjoys a double-digit lead over the Liberals.

Poilievre served notice that he will continue aggressive attacks on the LIberals, adding that the Conservatives plan on using  this parliamentary session: “to axe the [carbon] tax, build the homes, fix the budget, stop the crime.”

In a tweet earlier this week, Poilievre called the “Trudeau’s” carbon tax a “very costly, ugly, hungry pig.” Trudeau responded that: “Canadians don’t need catchy slogans. They need thoughtful solutions.”

This exchange suggests we might be in for a highly entertaining session from a political standpoint. However, voters hoping for meaningful discussion and effective policy in the battle against inflation might be sorely disappointed.