Here’s where Winnipeg parents are trying to save on back-to-school shopping

Click to play video: 'Here’s where Winnipeg parents are trying to save on back-to-school shopping'
Here’s where Winnipeg parents are trying to save on back-to-school shopping
Parents in Winnipeg are being more conscious of how much they spend on school supplies as the prices of items goes up. Katherine Dornian reports on the affordability challenges heading into the school year. – Sep 5, 2023

Loose leaf paper for English class, pencil crayons for art, the latest sneakers for gym class and blue pens for marking up math tests are all part of going back to school.

Yet, with the rising cost of living and inflation holding steady heading into fall some Winnipeg parents are tightening their belts to get everything on their children’s back-to-school shopping lists, while some schools have had to increase their student fees to cover their own bases.

Standing outside Staples before school is set to begin for many in Winnipeg this week, Anna Lim has already spent $100 on supplies before she heads into the office supply store to look for more deals.

“(It’s) getting more expensive, definitely, compared to last year,” she told Global News.

Click to play video: 'Teachers gearing up for busy return to class: Manitoba Teachers’ Society'
Teachers gearing up for busy return to class: Manitoba Teachers’ Society

While shopping for her daughter who’s going into the 11th grade, Rochelle Wiebe was nervous to see how prices have changed going into this school year due to inflation.

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“It changes everything, so it kind of makes it a little more challenging,” she said.

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Manitoba’s Consumer Price Index sat at 2.6 per cent in July, down from 3.3 per cent the previous year.

Brian O’Leary, superintendent of the Seven Oaks School Division, said though they’ve employed strategies to keep costs down for parents, student fees increased from $35 to $40 this year, though it’s only the second increase they’ve had to make in 15 years.

O’Leary pointed to other divisions who charge for things like musical instrument rental and lunch supervision which the division doesn’t, giving parents ultimately a lower fee.

“Most parents here are really appreciative, parents who move to seven oaks from other parts of Winnipeg…are really impressed with how we handle things,” he said.

With student supply fees the division buys supplies like scissors, glue sticks and paper in bulk through a tender, so if they aren’t used by students through one year they can be used the next.

“It really is one small fee.”

Elsewhere, at David Livingstone School in Winnipeg School Division, the $30 school supply fee stayed stagnant this academic year, according to principal Christopher Clarke.

“We chose not to increase that cost because we really wanted to decrease the impact on our community and our families and we really wanted to be able to make sure we continue to eliminate any barriers,” he said.

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“Especially given the cost that they are this year.”

Meanwhile, Eric Labaupa took advantage of a trip to Alberta and bought back-to-school clothes for his children to save on paying provincial sales taxes before doling out cash in Manitoba for supplies.

The father of three said he has to prioritize what kind of supplies are bought for which child — and what he treats himself to — as the price of things stay high.

“Less McDonalds for me and more school supplies for the kids.”

— with files from Katherine Dornian

Click to play video: 'Back to school anxiety'
Back to school anxiety

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