When Irene Dickson thinks of affordability, her 36-year-old daughter, Jamie, comes to mind.
Although he works every day of the week (five days as a project manager for an archeology company and two in a bookstore), Jamie cannot afford a house.
Instead, Jamie rents a house in Burlington, Ontario with her mother. Dickson, a single mother for most of Jamie’s life, has been in the unit for 16 years, which has kept costs down.
If Jamie moves out, Dickson, 62, said it would be more expensive for both of them.
“It’s ridiculous there. There’s no affordable housing…she works seven days a week and can’t afford to buy a house. It’s kind of sad,” Dickson said, who added that his own dreams of buying a house had also been dashed.
“If I had bought a house, I might have lost it anyway. That’s how it is…I’ll probably continue to rent for the rest of my life.”
With a provincial election on June 2, voters say affordability is their top priority.
Many refer to housing when they talk about affordability, but groceries, gas and just about everything else have also become more expensive.
These families say that while they feel the pinch, they worry about how it will affect their children.
Justin Hodge, who lives in the Stoney Creek area of Hamilton with his wife and 10-month-old daughter Elisabeth, said he felt the pressure of rising costs every time he went to the grocery store , filled his car’s gas tank or looked at house prices.
“My wife and I are fine for the most part. We can bring our daughter to life and we can barely stay ahead,” he said.
Although Hodge said they were able to make ends meet, he struggled to save money to buy a house or pay for his daughter’s post-secondary education.
“It’s something that’s going to affect the future of all our children,” he said, adding that he felt millennials like him were falling behind in society compared to the previous generation.
Ijaz Zafarullah, 49, said he, his wife and three children moved to Stoney Creek three years ago to escape rising housing prices in Maple, Ont.
But the rising cost of homes has also arrived in Hamilton. A study by Oxford Economics last year ranked Hamilton first in third least affordable city in North Americabehind Toronto and Vancouver.
Zafarullah said he was thinking about his eldest, who is in college, and how in a few years she will be looking for a place to live.
“If I compare my situation when I bought my house to today, it’s going in the wrong direction,” he said, adding that rent prices were also too high.
Dickson, Hodge and Zafarullah all have one thing in common besides a shared frustration for the lack of affordability right now – they aren’t entirely happy with either side’s approach, either.
Hodge said that although he’s leaned towards the Conservatives all his life, he shifts his vote to the NDP because of their journey to make life more affordable.
That said, he believes all parties are offering band-aid solutions rather than long-term plans.
Zafarullah, meanwhile, said he did not know who he would vote for.
How do the main parties approach affordability?
The Progressive Conservatives have shared a few ways they are committed to saving people money. Their pre-election budget understand :
- Provincial gasoline tax reduction of 5.3 cents per liter for six months beginning July 1.
- Removal of tolls on Highways 412 and 418 in Durham Region.
- Increase the tax rate on non-resident speculation from 15% to 20%.
- Enhance the tax credit for low-income individuals and families to make more people eligible to receive at least a partial refund of their income tax.
- Introduce an Ontario Elderly Home Care Tax Credit to help some seniors age 70 and over cover the cost of essentials like walkers, hearing aids and attendant care.
It is important to note that the Progressive Conservatives have said they will stick to this budget if elected, but have already announced a new promise it is not in the budget that serves as their platform.
Here is some of what Liberals believe will help improve the cost of living.
- Raising the minimum wage to $16 per hour in 2023.
- Ontario Disability Support Program rates increased by 10% effective July 1.
- Transit fare will only cost $1 each way until 2024.
- Create a single rent control system for the province.
- Tax international owners of vacant homes 5% and Canadian owners of vacant homes 2%.
Here is some of what NDP proposes to make life more affordable:
- Increase in the minimum wage to $16 per hour in 2022, then to $20 in 2026.
- Freeze income taxes for low- and middle-income households for four years.
- Introduce an annual residential property speculation and vacancy tax that applies to all speculators who own homes they do not live in.
- Provide prescription drug coverage to all Ontarians through universal pharmacare and cover mental health care under OHIP.
- Immediate reduction in before and after school childcare costs.
What are the issues that matter to you?
CBC Hamilton wants to know what issues matter to you and what will inform your choice on election day.
Complete the questionnaire below to help us find out what issues voters want to focus on.