By The Canadian Press
OTTAWA — The question of who will make life more affordable for Canadians hits the federal campaign trail as new figures show the pace of price increases is at its highest in two decades.
The country’s headline inflation figure registered an annual increase of 4.1 per cent in August, fuelled by rising demand as more parts of the economy reopened amid supply-chain constraints for many goods.
NDP Leader Jagmeet Singh, speaking this morning in Essex, Ont., said he’s concerned about inflation rates and that bringing down housing prices is one way to address it.
“The cost of owning a home has been going up and people’s wages haven’t, so it’s getting harder and harder for people,” he said.
In Halifax an hour later, Liberal Leader Justin Trudeau said the COVID-19 pandemic has disrupted the economy and jacked up prices, but that his platform zeros in on affordability with hefty housing and child-care measures.
“Everything we’re doing is about creating affordability and opportunities for Canadians, whereas Mr. O’Toole and his housing plan is to give a half-billion-dollar tax break to wealthy landlords,” he said, referencing the Tory pledge to create incentives for investors who inject money into rental housing by tweaking rules around capital gains taxes.
“His child-care plan is a tax break that doesn’t create any spaces,” Trudeau added.
Conservative Leader Erin O’Toole is spending his day in Quebec, but released a statement before his first public event saying planned deficits by the Liberals and New Democrats wouldn’t help ease inflationary pressures.
“The numbers released today make it clear that under Justin Trudeau, Canadians are experiencing an affordability crisis,” O’Toole said in the release.
“We have a plan to get Mr. Trudeau’s spending under control. He never wants to get it under control,” O’Toole said later in Jonquière, Que.
A Tory government would introduce more competition in the telecommunications market and tackle price fixing at grocery chains, he said.
The Conservative platform logs new spending at $52.5 billion over the next five years versus $78 billion under the Liberal platform over the same period. Neither intends to balance the budget within that window, though O’Toole says he aims to hit that goal in the next decade.
The national average home price is expected to reach $680,000 this year, up 20 per cent per cent from last year, according to the Canadian Real Estate Association.
The Liberals promise to build 1.4 million homes over four years while the Conservatives aim to construct a million homes in three years, with both parties pledging to raise barriers to foreign property buyers.
A poll conducted by Leger in collaboration with The Canadian Press indicated the Liberals and Tories are tied with the support of 32 per cent of decided voters ahead of the election on Monday, with the NDP at 20 per cent.