Gwen is a B.C. senior who doesn’t want her last name used because she’s embarrassed by how desperate her financial situation has become.
But she did share her reaction every time she goes to a grocery store.
“I get sticker shock at the price,” said Gwen, who at 81 lives on a fixed income that shrunk in half after her husband died in the early days of the COVID-19 pandemic. “I dread going grocery shopping because it’s a reminder of how poor I am now.”
Gwen spoke with Black Press Media while she was shopping in the produce section of a Victoria store.
She never goes out to eat and cooks for herself, but has now been “skipping” a meal a day – usually lunch – in order to stretch her food budget.
Gwen says she simply can’t afford to eat three times a day because her rent also went up. The senior got rid of her car two years ago to save money each month, but walking has become more difficult as she gets older.
“It’s hard to watch the news because most days there are stories about inflation and it’s a yet another reminder of my situation,” said Gwen, who is actively seeking a roommate to cut down on monthly costs.
She has also sold off a bunch of her jewelry.
“That really hurt,” Gwen said.
The Victoria senior is hardly alone. Many residents are struggling as inflation drives up food prices and other items.
Black Press Media has spoken to a dozen customers shopping in area grocery stores in recent days to ask how they are managing.
Some parents said they were paying far more than 50 per cent of their monthly income on rent, which doesn’t leave much money for groceries. Parents described cutting back on Christmas presents and entertainment, as well as also skipping meals to ensure their children eat a proper number of meals each day.
“You sacrifice anything for your kids,” one dad said.
Statistics Canada said recently that upward pressure is being placed on rent prices as more Canadians are priced out of homeownership because of high interest rates.
In a client note, BMO chief economist Douglas Porter said core inflation edging up is a clear sign of persistent underlying inflation pressures.
“Turning the temperature down on inflation is proving to be an achingly slow process, and we suspect this may be a theme for 2023,” Porter said.
Economists expect Canadians facing higher shelter costs because of high interest rates to pull back on other spending. That process is expected to slow inflation.
The Bank of Canada has raised interest rates rapidly to cool decades-high inflation and slow spending in the economy.
—With files from Nojoud Al Mallees, The Canadian Press