A new poll released by the Angus Reid Institute late last month shows that financial struggles are once again on the rise for a majority of the Canadian population.
“What began at the beginning of the year with a slight twinge for many Canadians over rising prices has led to a place where nearly every adult in this country is spending less and bracing for more financial pain as inflation maintains a tight grip on the nation,” reads the Angus Reid report released on September 29. The Institute had released a report in February of this year that suggested Canadians were beginning to struggle with the realities of inflation, particularly when it comes to food security.
“The latest data… finds nine-in-ten Canadians (88%) now reporting belt-tightening measures, an eight-point increase from August,” the report continues. “They are most likely to be cutting back on discretionary spending (66% report this) and delaying major purchases (50%) in the face of continued financial uncertainty. Troublingly, fully one-quarter (26%) now say they are deferring contributions to their retirement or savings, up from 19 per cent who said the same six weeks ago.”
The report goes on to discuss the impact of increasing interest rates, including a very large increase of 3.25% in early September.
In terms of food security, the latest poll finds that slightly over half of all Canadians struggle to buy groceries. This does not necessarily mean that this proportion of the population is starving, but does indicate serious financial issues given that food is such a basic necessity and one of the first purchasing priorities of most households.
Early in September, reports indicated that inflation may have been settling, but it is now believed that this as an impression falsely created by falling gasoline prices. The price of gasoline hit an all time record cost of over $2 per litre at some area gas stations this summer, leaving many people struggling to choose between eating or putting fuel in their vehicle to get to work. Average gas prices have since fallen significantly to around the $1.40 per litre mark – still expensive, but more manageable.
The February 2022 Angus Reid report indicated that instances of food theft are likely to be on the rise this year as prices climb, although no reports could be found specifically addressing whether this has been the case. One report published by Yahoo News indicates one possible side benefit of high food prices – it is likely to decrease consumers’ tendency to waste food. While this may provide some small aid to the supply of food globally, it is sure to be small comfort to those in the local area who are struggling most to eat.
Area food banks are ready to help. For more information or to get help with food insecurity, a good place to start is the House of Lazarus Food Bank in South Mountain, located in the old Scotiabank building at 10619 Main Street. The House of Lazarus can be reached by phone at 613-989-3830.