Quebec to give residents $500 to help fight inflation. How would Ontarians spend that money?


A few weeks after BC announced a minimum-wage increase to offset rising inflation, Quebec announced Tuesday that it would give 6.4 million of its residents a $500 payout to tackle rising costs.

Every adult earning $100,000 or less will see the payout transferred directly into their bank accounts after they file their 2021 tax returns, Finance Minister Eric Girard told reporters Tuesday. People whose incomes exceed $100,000 will still receive a rebate, but it will be less than $500.

“Inflation is exceptional, so the compensation is exceptional,” Girard said of the $500 payments, adding that his government expects inflation to drop to 2.3 per cent by the second half of 2023. The payments will cost a total of $3.2 billion.

There are no current plans in Ontario to raise the minimum wage beyond $15 nor have there been indications for a similar $500 rebate, but many in this province already have ideas of what they’d spend their money on.

With rising costs in grocery stores, many agree that $500 could make a small dent in their weekly grocery costs.

Food was disproportionately impacted by inflation — on average, prices rose by 6.7 per cent last year, economics professor Stephen Foerster told the Star in an earlier explainer on soaring grocery bills. In particular, the meat isolate saw the some of the greatest increases, with prices rising 11.7 per cent. Butter was up 9.2 per cent.

Another thing Ontarians would buy with the $500 rebate? Gas.

At a rate of 32.3 per cent, gasoline saw the greatest price increase last year, according to Statistics Canada. Second was energy, comprising electricity, natural gas and more, at 24.1 per cent.

Others are pointing out that this $500 payout isn’t helpful to combat rising inflation costs.

Liberal finance critic Carlos Leitao said the budget “seems to have been structured to deliver a significant payment to over six million Quebecers just in time for the election. There seems to be no vision beyond that.”

Girard insisted the payments aren’t to curry votes and help his government win a second mandate but to help Quebecers weather significant inflation that the government expects will reach 4.7 per cent in 2022.

According to a report released this month, Canada’s annual inflation rate climbed to 5.7 per cent in February, the highest in more than 20 years — since August 1991.

It was also the second straight month over 5 per cent.

With files from Kevin Jiang and The Canadian Press.

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