LILLEY: Trudeau’s grocery rebate proof that his government is failing

More than a quarter of the Canadian population needing help to buy groceries is not a sign of success.

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More than one quarter of Canadians received government payments this week to buy the most basic necessity, food. If anything speaks to a failure of the Liberal government to make life better for Canadians, it is that 11 million people, in a country of 40 million, received a grocery rebate payment.

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It should be shocking to all that the government feels that 27.5% of the population is deemed in need of help to buy groceries. The figure is actually higher when you consider that many of those receiving the payments have children or other dependents.

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“Inflation in Canada fell to 3.4 per cent in May — down from 4.4 per cent in April, and down from a high of 8.1 per cent last June,” Finance Minister Chrystia Freeland said while making her announcement of the grocery rebate Wednesday.

She also touted that inflation in Canada is lower than in the United States, France, Germany, Italy and the United Kingdom. That’s all well and good but core inflation only fell to 3.4% due to a drop in oil and gas prices, something that will bounce back up after Trudeau’s second carbon tax, the Clean Fuel Regulations, kick in across the country this week.

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What Freeland didn’t mention was that while core inflation was down in May, Statistics Canada still shows that food inflation at 9% on average with some key items even higher. Cooking oils and edible fats were up 20.3%, bakery products were up 15% and cereal products up 13.6%.

To make matters worse, mortgage costs were up 29.9% in May compared to a year earlier.

Sylvain Charlebois, the food professor from Dalhousie University, said during a recording of an upcoming episode of the Full Comment Podcast, that people are buying less food across Canada but that it’s not due to higher food costs but higher housing costs.

“They are buying different brands, they are trading down, and why are they trading down? It’s because of mortgage rates, it’s because of rents,” Charlebois said.

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Canadians are renewing their mortgages and seeing monthly price increases ranging from $500 into the thousands in additional payments each month. The Bank of Canada has increased interest rates nine times since March 2022 from 0.25% to 4.75%, a move that has forced mortgage rates up from the 1-2% range to a range of between 5-6%.

The central bank is even expected to raise interest rates again as early as next week, a move that would further hurt working families struggling to keep a roof over their heads and food on the table.

Into this wades Freeland with her one-time payments of $225 for a senior, $234 for a single person and $467 for a couple with two kids. It will help a little bit in the short term but won’t fix the ongoing problems of inflation and the rising bank rates to try and control that inflation.

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It didn’t have to be this way, the Trudeau government was warned. They were asked about what they would do. In August 2021, just after he called the election, Statistics Canada showed that inflation had gone up to 3.7% and it was expected to go higher.

Trudeau was asked whether he would renew the Bank of Canada’s mandate to keep inflation between 2-3%, something that had long been government policy. The glib answer from the Liberal leader showed how little he knows about the economy.

“When I think about the biggest, most important, economic policy that this government will move forward, you’ll forgive me if I don’t think about monetary policy, you’ll understand that I think about families,” Trudeau said with a smirk and a laugh.

Of course, families are now dealing with the fact that he doesn’t think about monetary policy and paying more for groceries, more for their mortgages and more for rent because of it. Don’t worry though, he’s got cheques for some people.

If Trudeau had focused on the big things when it mattered, we wouldn’t be in this mess today.

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