Food or Rent?
A basic food basket is beyond the reach of low-income and precarious workers, pensioners and people on fixed incomes, forcing them to choose between food for themselves or food for their children; food or medicine; food or rent.
In 2022 food prices rose 10.3%, rising even higher for essentials like cooking oil (26%). This year food prices are projected to rise another 5% to 7%, or almost $1,000 more for a family of four.
The price of home heating and gas at the pumps reached record levels in 2022, and is projected to rise to $2 / litre in 2023.
Rents have also jumped as big landlords take advantage of the shortage of affordable rental housing, and the absence of rent control legislation across the country. Rents across Canada rose 12.4% last year, while In Atlantic Canada rents rose 32.2% in the same 12 months.
Rising interest rates have created a crisis for new homeowners who will be unable to carry the up to $1,000 /month more they will have to pay the big banks when they renegotiate their mortgages this year. In January, the Big Five banks indicated they were preparing for mortgage defaults resulting from 8 rate hikes in the last 11 months.
Further, the Bank of Canada’s rising interest rate policy anticipates and advocates rising unemployment and falling real wages as the solution to inflation, despite the cost to workers, their families and communities. This is also how the Bank of Canada, the government, and the biggest employers plan to discipline workers and their unions across the country. Big layoffs have already started, leaving people desperate. More layoffs are ahead.
One job should be enough – not the multiple jobs and low wages that millions of workers are forced to stitch together just to get by today.
In 2020, while 7 million people applied for CERB, and others for EI, corporations seized the opportunity to raise prices – and profits. After-tax corporate profits sky- rocketed 59% to $456 billion in 2021, then jumped to an astonishing $523 billion by mid-2022. This includes Loblaws whose profits rose 40% in 3 months last year. Sobeys, Metro, and Walmart were close behind.
Canadian banks also raked in $57 billion in profits last year, dishing out $19 billion to Executives, while corporate landlords and the gas and oil industry also posted record profits.
Unite to Roll Back Prices and Rents!
Parliament has the power to roll-back prices and rents, and they need to do it now.
What’s needed is mass public pressure to force them to act. The labour and democratic movements, youth, women, seniors, farmers, the unemployed, municipalities, and many others must unite around a mass campaign to roll back and freeze prices and rents. It’s in our common interests to do it.
With a minority federal government, a mass campaign that brings people into the streets in rallies and protests demanding price roll-backs has the leverage needed to compel government action. A cross- Canada coalition of organizations, with labour at its core, could be organized and move into action before more working people lose their homes, their jobs and their futures to corporate profits and greed. Political parties like the NDP, the Greens and Quebec Solidaire can also be pressed into action.