Re: Time to tackle our individual fiscal cliffs, Our View, The Royal City Record, Jan. 4.
While your opinion piece is entirely correct in its assertion that Canadian debt levels are at record highs, this is neither news nor is it a complete picture of the fiscal reality of ordinary Canadians.
We are in a difficult economic period, where recovery can be characterized as “slow” at best. In a period of such uncertainty, many employers are scaling back annual bonuses and wage increases that people have come to rely on in their efforts to save money or tackle debt.
Yet, in this period of economic uncertainty, where the government issues several warnings about aggressively tacking our debt, rates for just about everything have gone up.
Consider this: public transit fares up by as much as nine per cent; hydro rates up about 1.4 per cent; Canada Pension Plan and Employment Insurance deduction maximums up four per cent and 9.4 per cent, respectively; the cost of food up an average of 4.5 per cent; Medical Services Plan premiums up 9.6 per cent and property taxes in New Westminster, although the lowest increase in a decade, going up 1.91 per cent (in 2012).
And no one can justify the rising costs for any of the services mentioned with an increase in services.
Will the SkyTrain breakdown less frequently with the new revenue they will receive? Unlikely.
Will the lights shine brighter in our homes with hydro rates increasing? No.
Will I have a shorter wait at the emergency room while paying higher MSP premiums? Nope.
We agree that debt is easy, and yes it’s true that much of this household debt comes from loans and credit cards. Even the simplest of lives, however, are expensive and getting more so in 2013.
One can’t help but to pay (or worse yet, put off paying) some of their bills on credit simply because there isn’t enough cash coming in – thanks in part to those increasing expenses outlined above.
Finally, while understanding that paying off debt now is far better than it is to leave it for when Bank of Canada interest rates go up, isn’t it hypocritical that governments, be they provincial or federal, are telling us to get rid of this debt when they themselves are in deficit situations?
Ah! That must be why my monthly living expenses just went up.