Affordability key issue in 2021 election


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Hey there, time traveller!
This article was published 10/09/2021 (627 days ago), so information in it may no longer be current.

There’s an old adage in politics that tells us “people vote with their pocketbooks,” and every election the major political parties repackage old platitudes and roll out big promises and so as not to be outdone by their competition.

Judging by the expensive promises being made this year, they obviously see “pocketbook issues” as a major theme in 2021.

And as Prime Minister Justin Trudeau found out at a recent campaign event, at least some voters think the big money should go towards addressing affordability.

Standing in front of a half-built home in Hamilton, Ont. that will likely retail for around $1 million, the prime minister was heckled by a young man who asked him: “Are you going to help us pay $1.5 million? Are you, buddy?”

Setting aside how stereotypically Canadian that sounds, the young man had a point.

Housing in Canada has become considerably less affordable over the past decade. According to a report by Oxford Economics, the least affordable cities in North America are Vancouver and Toronto, followed in third place by Hamilton.

For the record, Winnipeg ranked 18th out of 25, but the report also found that housing is becoming less affordable in smaller metro areas, too.

And any problems that existed prior to the outbreak of the coronavirus have only been exacerbated, particularly for younger Canadians disproportionately experiencing economic stress.

There are many factors at play, and the high cost of living in Canada goes beyond housing. Consumer goods have also gone up in price, and operational costs for businesses have at times become prohibitive.

Even before the pandemic, businesses in otherwise vibrant communities were shutting down. Osborne Village is a perfect example.

Meanwhile, down the street in South Osborne, where retail space is more affordable, there’s been “an influx of new blood coming in,” Erick Casselman, owner of the Park Theatre, recently told the Winnipeg Free Press. “With new generations, they’re always trying to build the kind of place that they can claim as their own.”

The renovation of Park Alleys is an example that shows people are willing to invest in communities, and even provide affordable pricing that caters to people in the neighbourhood, so long as they can make a living.

Maybe the prime minister thought he had done enough for peoples’ “pocketbooks” when he called an early election.

Maybe the gamble pays off, or maybe the electorate see it as a senseless exercise meant only to consolidate power — in the midst of the fourth wave of a deadly pandemic.

But people want to know they have a safe and stable future, and for all of the big promises and platitudes, whether whatever party forms government will actually pay for it.

Andrew Braga is a community correspondent for South Osborne.

Andrew Braga

Andrew Braga
South Osborne community correspondent

Andrew Braga is a community correspondent for South Osborne.

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