Strapped for cash
In a province where people are still adjusting to the multiple fee hikes of what might be aptly described as the Pickpocket Budget of 2016 - everything from a 50 per cent increase to get a birth or marriage certificate to the more than quadrupling of the fee to register a snowmobile - citizens now have to wait in dread for the “economic update” the Liberals are pledging to deliver in October.
In fact, the impact of Budget 2016 has still not fully been felt, since many of the fee increases won’t kick in until 2017. We’ll be feeling the pinch for some time to come.
We’re not alone in this province in feeling cashstrapped, but there’s no comfort in that. The results of a survey have confirmed that many working Canadians are living paycheque to paycheque and are barely meeting their financial obligations.
The Canadian Payroll Association (CPA) released its eighth annual Research Survey of Employed Canadians Wednesday, and its findings are no surprise to those of us living in a province where personal bankruptcies are on the rise and an oil price slump has left provincial coffers painfully empty.
More than 5,600 employees across the country took part in the online survey from June 27-Aug. 5, which found that “a significant percentage of working Canadians carry debt, have a gloomy view of their local economy and are fearful of rising interest rates, inflation, and costs of living,” according to Patrick Culhane, president and CEO of the Canadian Payroll Association.
As the CPA noted in a news release, “While pay has remained largely unchanged, employees’ spending and debt levels have affected their ability to save.”
In Canada, 48 per cent of respondents said they were living from paycheque to paycheque, but that number rose to 59 per cent in Atlantic Canada. Also in this region, 46 per cent figured they would need to save more than $1 million in order to retire, but 77 per cent said they have only managed to save less than a quarter of what they’ll need.
More than half of the employees surveyed in Atlantic Canada said they felt overwhelmed by debt and one-quarter said they did not believe the economy would improve. Nearly two-thirds of respondents said they are able to save only five per cent or less of their pay.
In Newfoundland and Labrador, we’re trying to weather tough times while still waiting for the other budgetary shoe to drop.
While Premier Dwight Ball is easing off on terms like “mini budget” to describe what’s coming for taxpayers this fall, his government is offering no clarity, either.
Whatever is in store, people in this province deserve to be given the information they need to try and manage their finances as best they can.
Winter, with its higher cost of living, is not too far around the corner.
The uncertainty and vague rumblings aren’t helping.