Young people’s wages aren’t keeping up with the cost of living and the cost of housing in Canada, says Kenora MP Eric Melillo.
Melillo points to a number of affordability studies in Canada that all show that younger adults are facing skyrocketing housing and rental prices and sharp cost of living increases, and despite many working full-time hours, wage and salary increases aren’t keeping up across the board.
“The government must stop its inflationary spending. The more it continues to add fuel to the fire, the longer these affordability challenges will drag out,” explains Melillo, in an interview with the Q Morning Show.
The latest update from the federal government shows inflation sitting at 7 per cent as of September, down 0.3 per cent from August.
“We also need the government to stop piling on taxes that are just driving up the cost of living even further,” adds Melillo. “A dollar is better left in the pocket of the person who earned it, rather than in the hands of the politicians who want to tax it. Those are the first steps that we need to take to make life more affordable for everybody.”
A Remax report from this summer shows that 43 per cent of Canadians say the high price of real estate in their area is a barrier to entry into the market, with 35 per cent saying they can’t afford a home with the higher cost of living currently, and 24 per cent said they can’t due own to a shortfall in salary.
According to a study from Rentals.ca, the average monthly rent for all property types across Canada was $1,959 per month – up 11 per cent compared to 2021 rates.
A personal finance survey from July found that 7.3 million Canadians over the age of 18 used loans or went into debt to keep up with inflation, which peaked at 8.1 per cent that month. As well, nearly 60 per cent say they’ve had to significantly reduce their spending habits.
And despite a historic labour shortage across the country, many employees say they aren’t seeing the necessary financial support from their employers. With inflation at 7 per cent, workers are calling for wage increases in that same ballpark – but many are being denied.
To make things worse for youth, a 2018 RBC report found that tuition rates in Canada have tripled since the 1990s, and it typically takes graduates between 9 and 15 years to repay their student loan debt.
Statistics Canada says the average student loan debt in Canada is $15,300 for college graduates and $28,000 for university graduates – with Canadian students owing the government upwards of $20 billion for education.
In an attempt to help young families, Prime Minister Justin Trudeau and the Liberal government unveiled a $4.5 billion plan in September to help Canadians during our affordability crisis, which includes the first steps towards a national dental care program, an increase to the GST tax credit and a one-time boost to Canada’s housing benefit.
If passed, youth under the age of 12 with a family income of less than $90,000 would have up to $650 in dental coverage by December 1, with an expansion to 18-year-olds, seniors and those with disabilities by 2023.
As well, renters with net incomes below $35,000 for families or $20,000 for individuals could see up to $500 in a one-time rental support payment through the Canada Housing Benefit, and a six-month hike to GST rebates which are paid out four times a year for Canadians who make under $50,000.
From the opposition’s view, PC leader Pierre Poilievre said the $4.5 billion in extra spending would only worsen Canada’s situation – likening Trudeau’s plan to ‘pouring gasoline on the inflationary fire.’
And at best, adults over the age of 18 will not qualify for the dental program, those who make under $20,000 but can somehow still afford to rent may see $500 in support, and those who make under $50,000 will have two GST rebate cheques doubled to finish off the year.
The piece of legislation still needs to be passed by the Senate and the House of Commons.