Robert’s column

Robert’s column

Robert Barron column: Cost of living going through the roof

Many have told me that they have become resigned to the fact that they’ll likely die at their desks

I remember a news story on CBC a few years ago where a reporter and a cameraman went into a grocery store in the Yukon and began comparing the prices to stores much further south in Canada.

I was struck by just how much more people in the territory were paying for their basic food supplies than we were, with prices generally about 15 per cent to 50 per cent more, depending on the item, than what we were paying at the time.

I wondered how people in the Yukon managed to survive while having to pay such inflated prices for their food, along with all their other expenses.

But when I was cruising through my local supermarket last weekend, I began to realize that the food prices in the region have reached, or are reaching, the same levels as in that grocery store in the Yukon.

(I can only imagine what those poor shoppers are paying for their food now if our prices have skyrocketed so much.)

The economists will point to any number of reasons why the cost of feeding yourself and your family is increasing so much, including weather events like frost and floods destroying crops, increased transportation costs and problems related to the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic.

But knowing the reasons behind it does little to alleviate the financial pressures that many of us are experiencing as a result.

Then when we head to the gas station to buy petrol to get our very expensive groceries home, we are sucker punched again in the wallet with gas prices that are now the most expensive that I have ever seen.

Just last week, the price of gas, which was already ridiculously high and averaging about $1.61 per litre, shot up again to $1.71 per litre in the Valley and industry specialists are saying it’s expected to go much higher again in the near future.

It’s becoming a little stressful for many people, including myself, whose salaries are just not keeping up with the costs of living that are shooting through the stratosphere.

The buying power for a lot of Canadians has diminished greatly in just a few years, and their futures are not looking as bright as they once envisioned.

I’ve talked to people that had hoped to retire sometime in the next decade, but their dreams of finally being able to kick back and relax in their golden years are fading as the harsh realities of their new economic situations in these troubling times becomes clear to them.

Many have told me that they have become resigned to the fact that they’ll likely die at their desks sometime in their old age, just trying to keep up with their ever-growing bills.

A survey conducted by life insurance company PolicyMe last November determined that two-thirds of Canadians counted higher inflation rates and increasing cost of living as their number one financial stressor.

Following inflation, the study found the top financial stressors include saving for retirement [30 per cent], inability to absorb unforeseen expenses [25 per cent], unpredictability of investments [25 per,cent], inability to save as much as pre-pandemic [22 per cent], and high-interest consumer debt [17 per cent].

Andrew Ostro, CEO of PolicyMe, said at the beginning of 2021, many people were optimistic about their financial futures.

“But now Canadians are feeling anxious about the highest inflation rate we’ve seen in a long time,” he said.

“Whether it’s keeping up with the rising food, fuel, or housing costs, people are stressed about the increased cost of living; and parents are feeling it the most.”

These are, indeed, troubling times.

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