Canadians Struggle to Buy Groceries Under Highest Inflation in 39 Years: Angus Reid Study

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More than half of Canadians are struggling to pay for household grocery bills as the country faces a 7.7 percent inflation rate, the highest in 39 years, a new Angus Reid Institute (ARI) study says.

Out of more than 5,000 adult Canadians surveyed, 45 percent said they are worse off now than they were at this time a year ago—the highest rate recorded in the past 12 years, the report said. But more than one-third (34 percent) believe things will get worse in a year from now—also the highest number in more than a decade.

Many factors contributed to this sentiment as Canadians feel the inflationary impacts when paying for groceries, housing, and gas. Cost of living is considered the top provincial issue, with 63 percent of respondents saying so, followed by health care (52 percent) and housing affordability (31 percent).

While some types of goods are more resistant to inflation, food, which saw a 10 percent price surge in May, outruns all other categories, the ARI said in the June 24 report.

More than half of Canadians (52 percent) found it difficult on varying degrees to feed their household, while 46 percent say they are having no trouble on that front. The ARI noted that the latest data represents an inversion from data taken in October last year, when 45 percent said it was difficult to feed their family, and 52 percent said it was easy.

Households with lower income are more likely to have trouble feeding their families, with seven-in-ten (69 percent) of those in the lowest income bracket saying it is difficult to put food on the table. Overall, at least one-third of Canadians in all income levels say they are struggling to put food on the table.

The report also looked at the impacts on Canadian drivers. Notably, one-in-three (32 percent) of respondents say they’re paying more for gas in the last month, while nearly half (46 percent) say they’re spending less after having changed habits.

More than half (56 percent) say they are spending more time at home to cut down on the cost of driving, while one-in-three (36 percent) have gone further to get cheaper gas. One-in-five of respondents say they’ve opted for public transit, walking, or biking instead of driving.

Loss of Faith in Institutions

While some provincial governments have taken steps to alleviate the inflationary pressure, at least two-thirds of Canadians in every province say their respective government has done poorly in dealing with the crisis, the ARI report shows.

The portion of people believing their provincial government did badly in handling the rise of cost of living and inflation was the highest in Newfoundland and Labrador, with 90 percent of people saying so. It is closely followed by New Brunswick, at 88 percent; Manitoba, at 87 percent; and British Columbia, at 81 percent. The number was lowest in Saskatchewan, where 68 percent of people said so.

With some of the most powerful levers against inflation in hand, the Bank of Canada has already raised its key interest rate three times this year, and will likely do so again in July.

Under the current economic climate, the ARI found Canadians are split on whether to trust the central bank to fulfil one of its four key functions of “keep inflation low, stable and predictable,” as stated in its mandate. Right now, slightly more people still trust (46 percent) the BoC, compared to those who don’t (41 percent).

However, a recent Scotiabank report has highlighted the federal government’s “joint responsibility” with the BoC in fighting inflation.

“The Bank of Canada should not be fighting inflation on its own, despite its explicit inflation control mandate,” the author of the Scotiabank report said. “Better coordination of monetary and fiscal policies in Canada could lead to a return of inflation to target with less impact on the private sector.”

The ARI report was the result of two online surveys. One survey was conducted from June 7 to June 13, with a sample of 5,032 adult Canadians who are members of the Angus Reid Forum. The survey carries a margin of error of +/- 2 percentage points, 19 times out of 20. A second online survey was conducted by the Angus Reid Group from May 19 to May 24, among 1,530 Canadian adults, carrying a margin of error of +/- 2.5 percentage points, 19 times out of 20.

Andrew Chen

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Andrew Chen is an Epoch Times reporter based in Toronto.

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