Many Calgarians must choose between buying groceries, paying rent, and affording gas due to inflationary pressures.
“I’m spending more now compared to what I used to spend before,” says Joseph Anyanga. “If I have to buy something, I have to increase the amount of money that I’ll spend on it. So, I can’t afford to buy the same amount of food that I used to.”
As food prices reach all-time highs, more and more Calgarians are now forced to choose between eating a healthy meal once a day or affording snacks that can be divided into three sections. Nevertheless, they just cannot have it all.
According to the newly updated Consumer Price Index inflation rates in Canada as of September decelerated to 6.9 per cent from a peak of 8.1 per cent in June. However, food prices continue to climb, leaving the many Calgarians with no other choice but to cut cost in every other area.
“I used to eat out a lot,” says Alison Fucero, a university student, “but now I’m like, well, you have to pick between eating out and just having groceries that you would prepare at home.”
Luxuries like eating out, traveling, entertainment are the last on many Calgarians’ lists as many try to meet end meets.
“It’s crazy, I can’t afford anything,” says Marj Nicholas a Calgarian on Aish income support, “Food is so expensive; gas is so expensive.” Nicholas’s Aish income has not increased to meet the inflation rate.
According to the Consumer Price Index, hourly wages in Canada jumped 5.2 per cent this year – but that’s less than the increase in food costs. In fact, some Calgarians are not making enough hourly to even afford a reasonable meal at any fast-food restaurant. The cost for a McDonald’s meal ranges from $11.59 to $15.39 placing Calgarians working at a minimum wage job, $15 per hour, at a disadvantage.
“Our salaries don’t really reflect inflation in the same ratio,” says Fucero, “we definitely have to be more considerate with how much we’re spending. We don’t have as much disposable income.”
J Glade, a Calgary roofer, worries about the rise in food prices.
“Even with a minimum paying job, it doesn’t even pay for groceries and gas or anything like that,” says Glade. “Before I used to be able to go $200 on groceries. You can’t even do that anymore.”
Sherrie Yellowhorse, a mother of young school children, worries about the abolishment of some school lunch and supply programs.
“Sometimes, my kids can’t go to school because they don’t have lunches,” she says. “We have to pay for everything. Before they used to supply school supplies. Now, they don’t.”
As of September, university tuition fees in Alberta have climbed 7.7 per cent compared to other provinces, leaving post-secondary education out of reach for many.
The rise in food prices, tuition fees and monthly rent payments has forced some Calgarians to abandon their saving plans.
“It has enabled me now to just live paycheque to paycheque” said Anyanga, “I started cutting down on driving to cut costs on fuel.”