Editorial – Affordability the real issue

A week into the federal election and many of the political leaders have begun to release their party platforms, travel across the country, and hold media events. The platforms contain many promises and pledges for programs and actions if elected to office. Those are all well and good, but seem to gloss over many issues, or at least not dive deep enough into what the real issues are for every day people.

Talking to many readers, affordability is a real, every day issue that is not resonating with the candidates but does for families. Many of the big issues of climate change, foreign policy, are not seen to be as important as affordability. And there is not just one affordability issue for people – rather many smaller affordability issues that are piling up and have snowballed into larger issues.

Take affordable child-care. All the major parties have pledged different actions when it comes to access to child-care. Lower priced subsidized child-care is one option, tax credits and reimbursements another. What both fail to address is that in rural areas, there are just not enough child-care spaces for those who need them. It also does not address that some families cannot afford the subsidized price tag anymore than they can afford to lay out the money ahead to get a tax rebate – whether paid out yearly or monthly.

Affordable housing has been talked about in the campaign, but not in any real meaningful way that applies here. It is not just housing prices that have escalated due to a super-heated seller’s market, rental housing is scarce and expensive. The demand is high but supply at a near all-time low. Pledging to build new rental units, or provide tax credits for others to do it, over several years does not help with the immediate needs of the community.

Being able to afford day-to-day items is becoming more-and-more of a challenge. In July the inflation rate was 3.7 per cent, the highest it has been in a decade. Food, fuel, and other basic necessities all cost more, but wages have not increased. Some employers are hiring, but businesses are still hurting from the months of pandemic-related closures and not all are bringing back staff. In some cases businesses closed so there are no jobs to return to at all.

Many of the above problems have solutions, and some parties are proposing top-level ideas that may work. But unless parties start looking at affordability issues in a substantive way – creating real and immediate solutions for people struggling with these – all the lofty platforms of the political parties will be for naught as no one can pay for it.

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