The high cost of living is the top concern among Canadians in the leadup to this fall’s federal election, despite the relative strength of the national economy.
A poll by the CBC found that 32% of Canadians ranked cost of living as their top worry. This ranking was consistent among every segment of Canadians surveyed, which included indigenous Canadians, new Canadians, first-time voters and visible minorities.
The second top worry among those surveyed was climate change (19%), while the health of themselves and their family members fell into third place (10%). Other concerns included immigration, international relations and trade, social inequality, job security, crime, truth in media, terrorism and racism.
It’s no surprise that the cost of living ranks high on the CBC’s poll. Consumer debt has been growing across the country for a while now, and while wages are finally beginning to rise, they’d been slow to do so over the past few decades. Prolonged international trade tensions — particularly between China and the U.S. — and sluggish oil prices at the start of the year didn’t do much to inspire confidence, either.
Although only one in 10 Canadians told the CBC that they’re not getting by financially, 68% of those surveyed said that they “have to think about how they spend money.”
Despite these concerns, however, the economy is faring just fine — if not great. A staggering 106,500 jobs were created across the country over the past year, wages are currently growing at a faster pace than inflation and the unemployment rate, which is currently at 5.4%, is about “as low as it get,” Pedro Atunes, chief economist with the Conference Board of Canada, told the CBC.
Over the past three or four years, said Atunes, the Canadian economy has “done quite well.”
“The aggregate economic data in Canada is looking quite strong,” added Frances Donald, chief economist and head of macroeconomic strategy at Manulife. “We have plenty of jobs, wages are rising, GDP numbers are fairly solid.”