Strapped for cash

The Compass - - EDITORIAL - This edi­to­rial orig­i­nally ap­peared in The Tele­gram

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.

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