Feeling the Pinch
Hannah Bell, MLA Charlottetown-Belvedere
Official Opposition Finance Critic
You may have recently seen stories about Canada’s annual inflation rate reaching an 18 year high at 4.1%. You may, however, have missed the part that PEI’s inflation rate year over year increase is the highest in Canada. Our rate is 6.3%. Some of this drastic increase in the pace of inflation can be attributed to COVID flattening prices a year earlier, but the numbers are still shocking.
Most Islanders are probably not talking about inflation rates, but they are talking about the rising cost of just about everything – from houses to gasoline to groceries – and that’s what inflation looks like in the real world.
Inflation is impacted by a huge range of factors, many of which are not things that can be addressed directly or quickly. The long term effects of the pandemic – supply chain challenges, labour shortages, and fluctuating demand – have made day-to-day life even more expensive. These are global issues that we feel in our wallets every day.
As we move out of the pandemic, these spiking inflation rates should be temporary. But do we really think that prices will go back down as inflation eases?
PEI needs an economic recovery plan
For example, the crisis we are experiencing in housing is not new nor is it temporary. The widening gap between provincial social support programs and the actual cost of basic essentials is also not a new or temporary thing. The challenges faced by seniors and people with disabilities who have to choose between food, rent, and medication is also not new or temporary.
It is true that provincial governments can’t do much to slow inflation rates that are being felt across the country. However, that doesn’t mean there is nothing they can do to help Islanders feeling the pinch. They can implement strong policies and programs to help soften the blow for those who are really feeling the pain of runaway costs.
More and more Islanders are feeling the stress of having more month than money. It is well past time for the King government to show us an economic recovery plan that helps Islanders face the cost of living with confidence – not fear.