General Affordability Becoming More and More Challenging for Seniors

The following article originally appeared in the March 2019 issue of “The Connector”:

In my travels this past January, I met more and more seniors who are facing real challenges with general affordability in their day to day lives. In particular is concern over the increasing cost of groceries and gas. I met one senior who, at age 69, is still pumping gas in order to make ends meet. For seniors who live on a fixed income or a government pension, affordability is there number one issue.

In Canada’s latest census, Canadian seniors now slightly outnumber children under 14. Statistics Canada attributes this to the post-war baby boom, low fertility rates and the fact that Canadians are living longer than ever.

Along with this ageing population, we will see serious implications to the national economy and government policy. It will be necessary to find constructive and viable approaches to managing the continuing needs of our seniors.

The introduction of the carbon tax by the Liberal Government will mean that making ends meet will be even harder. One of my constituents sent a copy of his Fortis bill to my office pointing out that the carbon tax was more than his actual gas costs.British Columbians agreed to a carbon tax on a promise of revenue neutrality, however, the carbon tax has now been turned into just another

Provincial Government tax grab. In BC this means an additional 14% increase in the carbon tax introduced by the province on gasoline at the pumps that will take effect April 1. Now with the Federal Government’s new legislation it is going to mandate regular increases to the carbon tax, with each province dealing with it in a different way.

Another key issue that was brought to my attention during a recent meeting with the Canadian Home Builders’ Association (CHBA) is the impact that the Mortgage Stress Test is placing on seniors who are downsizing and first time home buyers. According to statistics, 1 in 10 deals are collapsing due to the current federal government restrictions on mortgage lending.

CHBA is taking aim at two specific mortgage rules and advocating for changes. They are pressing the government to overhaul the current stress test for mortgages and to reintroduce 30-year mortgages for first time home buyers in order to allow many more well-qualified buyers to secure a mortgage. To make matters worse, tariffs on steel and aluminum and an increase in the cost of softwood lumber further add to the issue of housing affordability.

I know that seniors across Kamloops will be looking to 2019 to see how these issues will be addressed.

Cathy McLeod, MP for Kamloops-Thompson-Cariboo