Unpredictable cost of living affecting Calgarians

Grocery run: Mr. and Mrs. Ahuja in Calgary on Sunday, June 20, 2021. Ahuja family is shopping for some groceries which they ran out from their previous week’s shopping. (Photo by Raghvi Sharma/The Press)

By Raghvi Sharma

Calgary is ranked as one of the five most livable cities in the world. It is also the fourth most expensive city in Canada.

And things are about to get worse, especially when it comes to basics such as groceries.

“The price of groceries is increasing over the time and people complain that every single time that, their grocery bills exceed the previous bill,” said Sushma Kumawat, shift supervisor at Sanjha Punjab, an international grocery store in northeast Calgary. “People now think practically while shopping and buy only fewer and necessary products.”

The Bank of Canada projects an overall inflation of 1.8 percent for 2021.Prices for services such as transit passes, groceries, gas, insurances and short-term rentals will rise correspondingly.

The Alberta Inflation Calculator determines an average annual inflation rate of 3.22 per cent upon measuring the Consumer Price Index. Major reason behind the inflation are the higher costs of shelter, food and resources involving energy.

“I find it challenging to raise a family of three teenage children alone especially when it comes to managing expenses as the food costs these days are high and, the bills at grocery stores are not certain,” said Meenu Inder Dutt, a single parent.

According to Statistics Canada, Calgarians spend 63.1 per cent of their income on life essentials compared to a national average of 62.3 per cent.

The average Canadian family is expected to spend up to $487 to $700 more on food next year, according to the Canada Food Price Report. Reasons for the increase include change in climate conditions, lesser crop yield and threat to livestock.

“Sometimes I come across incidents when people fail to pay their credit bill, and insurances on time and requests extensions, reflecting the ever-increasing cost of living,” said Reema Bhardwaj, financial advisor for TD Insurance.

The situation seems particularly pronounced in Calgary.

“The price of an exactly similar chandelier that I liked at Home Depot in Oakville but could not bring due to shipping charges was almost double in Calgary’s Home Depot,” said Bhardwaj.

Calgary manages to score high on its cost living despite having some of the lowest taxes in the

country. The five per cent GST is the only tax imposed on goods and services in the province. All of the Canada’s other provinces have an additional provincial sales tax. In Ontario and British Columbia, for example the combination of GST and PST add 12 per cent to the base cost of products.

A Numbeo report shows that Calgary outpaces even Vancouver when it comes to the base price of some essentials.

Calgary Vancouver
Monthly Bus Pass $ 109 $ 100
Basic Home Utilities $ 194.89 $ 88.46
Take-out Meals $ 20 $ 17
Recreational Facilities $ 59 $ 51

“The price of international groceries is very high and there are limited options, less competition leading to high price,’’ said Man Pradeep Kaur, an immigrant from India who lives in Calgary’s Whitehorn community.

“Taking out Indian food from restaurants is also becoming very expensive when compared to Brampton, my previous place of residence, where there were plenty of International food stores carrying affordable prices,” said Kaur.

According to the Alberta Economic dashboard report, Albertan’s paid 0.6 per cent more for goods and services in February 2021 than in the same month a year ago. Nearly all commodity prices showed an elevated slope, with energy increasing the most at +9.2 per cent.

Things are not going to get better for Calgarians anytime soon.

The city council has just approved a total of 1.5 per cent hike in the municipal taxes. This means the average Calgarian can expect to pay $150 more in taxes 2021, in addition to budgeting more for groceries and other essentials.

A family does their shopping in Calgary on Sunday, June 20, 2021. They are wearing same type of t-shirt and enjoying their Sunday together by buying groceries in bulk. (Photo by Raghvi Sharma/The Press)
About Raghvi Sharma 5 Articles
As a news reporting and communications major in the journalism program at SAIT, Raghvi Sharma is working as a writer for The Press during the 2021 academic year.