Kelowna-Lake Country MP Tracy Gray
As your representative (in Parliament) for Kelowna-Lake Country, it’s important to me to hear the day-to-day concerns of residents so I can bring them to Ottawa.
I do this by meeting with residents and organizations, attending local events, activities and celebrations, and by dropping in on small businesses.
I’ve heard that with the ringing in of the new year, many people are feeling anxious about 2023. It’s easy to understand why, with many significant organizations providing less than favourable forecasts for the year.
The Office of the Superintendent of Bankruptcy found both business and personal insolvencies are on the rise, with business insolvencies in Canada 58.3% higher in November 2022 than in November 2021. It was reported insolvency experts have seen the same trend in the Okanagan.
The Bank of Canada increased interest rates a record seven times in 2022. That, of course, hit families with mortgages and the timeline of when it will be felt hardest will depend on individuals personal situations.
Small businesses, still carrying extra debt from the pandemic, are now also running against the rise in interest rates as well as continued increases in other costs due to inflation. The Canadian Federation of Independent business (CFIB) reported the average small business took on $150,000 in new debt during the pandemic and many do not have sales back to pre-pandemic levels.
People have also been hit with higher food, fuel, home heating and housing costs, making it hard to pay for these basic necessities. Department of Natural Resources research found more than one in five Canadians indicated heating costs as a significant financial burden.
A Toronto-based food bank, Second Harvest, polled more than 1,300 Canadian charities on their outlooks for 2023 where they predicted a 60% increase in food bank usage.
An increase of that size would come on top of what our own Central Okanagan Food Bank reported was a 30% increase in use in 2022. The Mississauga Food Bank CEO said people have come in there asking about accessing Medical Assistance in Dying (MAID) – not because of illness, but because they couldn’t afford to live. It’s heartbreaking to hear this feeling of hopelessness in Canada.
Recent opinion research in Maru Public Opinion’s monthly household outlook index found more than one in four Canadians felt their financial position deteriorated in the last month. Canada’s record-high inflation continues to squeeze budgets and paycheques.
While federal ministers continue to argue inflation is not home-grown in any way, the last two governors of the Bank of Canada, Tiff Macklem and Mark Carney, both said the government’s increased spending over the past few years contributed to Canada’s inflation rate.
Former finance minister, Bill Morneau, recently revealed that when he presented the prime minister with a pandemic spending plan crafted by the experts at the Department of Finance, he found his proposal ignored in favour of far larger spending targets.
“Calculations and recommendations from the Ministry of Finance were basically disregarded in favour of winning a popularity contest,” said Morneau.
We now know the cost of that popularity contest with the independent Auditor General of Canada reporting billions in taxpayer-funded pandemic relief went to ineligible recipients, including for large profitable corporations.
I’ll press the government to rein in its discretionary spending and focus on delivering core government services that Canadians expect and deserve.
I’ll also advocate for much-needed tax relief on gas, groceries, heating and paycheques. People are struggling and looking for hope and I’ll stand up on these important issues.
If you need assistance with programs or have any thoughts to share, feel free to reach out, at 250-470-5075 or at [email protected].
This article is written by or on behalf of an outsourced columnist and does not necessarily reflect the views of Castanet.