As the Governor General was delivering the throne speech, including increasing the basic personal tax deduction to $15,000 and committing to making life more affordable, I thought of Karen.
Karen was our first caller following an interview about Ipsos polling from nearly a year ago that had determined virtually half the national population is daily peering into a deepening personal financial abyss.
Affordability was consistently ranked in the top concerns of Canadians leading up to the Oct. 21 federal vote, but what in real-life terms does the Ipsos polling information deliver?
I have neither the intent, nor the right, to sanitize Karen’s call. She is virtually destitute and spoke of thoughts of suicide. She calls the Toronto-Hamilton corridor of Ontario home and spoke of retraining and upgrading her skills, yet meaningful employment in her chosen field of commercial transport continues to prove elusive. Even entry-level jobs required qualifications usually not associated with such employment.
Was Karen’s call the exception or closer to the rule? Subsequent calls and email pointed to the latter. Repeatedly.
A Western Canadian husband and father shared he and his family would be living in a rented, immobile RV this winter. Hardly proper and warm shelter, but it’s all the family could afford. Another dad worried about earning sufficient funds to feed three children. On it went.
When Justin Trudeau issues vague assurances of creating more affordable living the question is, how? “Tax the ultra-wealthy” is the usual demand of the NDP. How many such Canadians are ripe for CRA-picking? And how many will remain here if the political left has its way?
Bankers and economists may assure the sky isn’t falling and neither is the abyss beckoning.
Whether they are suffering from self-inflicted financial trauma or they are victims of mismanagement and circumstance, make that case to the 46 per cent of Canadians who declared themselves $200 or less away from borrowing from Peter to pay Paul.
The Ipsos poll additionally showed that 31 per cent of Canadians don’t earn enough money to pay their bills — a number representing a seven per cent hike over just a three month period. (Full details of that poll are available online.)
“Our research continues to highlight the fact that many Canadians don’t have enough in the budget to make ends meet, let alone address their underlying indebtedness,” said Grant Bazian, president of MNP, when the poll was released.
Bazian confirmed financial wiggle-room is so marginal any rise in cost of living or interest rates for at least some Canadians might push them over the financial precipice.
We’ll revisit this issue on Saturday’s program and reopen the phone lines.
Roy Green is the host of the Roy Green Show on the Global News Radio network.