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Lip Service To Food Cost Support In New Fed Budget

I – and I suspect, millions of other Canadians – sat up and listened closer when CBC News reported a new program to help Canadians offset the rising cost of food. Trouble is, the rebates won’t be enough to make a real difference…

Biden on Wealth Tax - © 2023 Elizabeth Frantz - ReutersU.S. President Joe Biden makes remarks, takes questions,
after his proposal to tax the rich is revealed recently.
The only way to pay for real economic reforms?

Here’s the deal

Leaked just hours before the new Canadian Federal Budget was revealed, a new rebate scheme initially gave many folks hope. But when details were revealed, relief turned quickly to disappointment.

‘A senior government official familiar with the budget’ told CBC News that the overall cost of the handout will be more than ($)2 billion, benefiting about 11 million lower-income households. That will provide a single person with no children a one-time payment of up to $234, while a couple with two children could receive up to $467, and a senior citizen could expect about $225.

The up side:
  • Any kind of financial relief is welcome among the lower-income earners these days
  • The cash can be used to cover expenses other than food. For example, utility bills, clothes or transit passes.
  • Exact amount of individual payments will not be based on income, actual food bills or meeting certain warrants.
  • The measure is not expected to fuel inflation.
The down side
  • As mentioned, this is a one-time payment. Nobody is going to pay off their credit card balances. Nor will they be able to establish new, more extravagant lifestyles.
  • Finance Minister Chrystia Freeland admits budget will offer measures to help the vulnerable — but it can’t help everyone.
  • Nobody knows when the cash will come. The House of Commons is about to shut down business for a 2-week break. And nobody knows how long the bill enabling the program will take to pass once it does reach the House for debate.
  • The so-called ‘grocery rebate’ is competing with other measures such as one designed to assist folks with rocketing energy bills.

Largely symbolic

So… The grocery rebate program ends up being largely symbolic, but nobody is seriously complaining. Something is better than nothing.

What the new annual federal budget really needs is a comprehensive policy and working plan to conquer inflation and knock down high prices. But it’s been suggested that the only way to do that is to tax the rich. And no Canadian politician is going to seriously suggest that until similar measures proposed in the U.S. by President Joe Biden are test driven in the 2024 election.

We must all do what’s necessary to hold on, look after our families and friends the best we can, and see what the politicians come up with next…

~ Maggie J.