Jordan: You might have heard unless you’ve managed to somehow tune out this entire exhausting campaign that the issue Canadians care most about in this election is affordability.
Everything is expensive. We don’t have enough money to pay for basically any of. Neither of those two things are showing much sign of changing unless of course you ask the politicians
News Clip: A re-elected liberal government will lower taxes again for the middle class saving the average family almost six hundred dollars every year.
By and large every day we are telling contains the story about how we’re going to run a government that lives within its means. So we can put more money in their pocket so they can get ahead. These are real meaningful ways to make their lives more affordable. This is a real meaningful way to put money back into people’s pockets and giving young people hope guaranteed livable income for all is something we can and must do we also make life way more affordable for young.
Jordan: Look, no politician ever won an election by promising to make your life more expensive. So I don’t know what else we’d expect. The real question we need to ask is how how do these parties say?
They will do it and perhaps almost as importantly, how are they trying to sell their plans to you? Because whenever we talk about money, there are some interesting things happening in our heads you might be shocked to learn that we respond to different promises differently depending on the price tag that we attach to them.
I’m Jordan Heath Rawlings. This is the big story in there are five days left before Canada vote. Mike Eppel is the senior business editor with 680 news and with city news and he has done a lot of math lately. Thanks for joining us –
Mike: That’s a good way of putting it. Thank you.
Jordan: So broadly speaking when politicians talk about quote affordability what are they referring to?
Mike: Trying to make it in their estimation easier for us to pay the monthly bills? Whether or not they actually have the control over that hmm is a big debate because you know the the all of the parties and I went I actually had to go through their platforms to see who was promising the most with our money.
Let’s face it. That’s where it all comes from. Each one is sort of taking a different tactic and in some cases. Yes, it would reduce the cost of certain day-to-day items. The problem is though. It’s not just the feds. It’s the province right? It’s the municipal government. You know, when was the last time property taxes came down?
Oh, that’s right. They’ve never come down. So you’ve got you’ve got all of these political levels that are all offering to or claiming. They’re going to make life more affordable. But at the end of the day, It’s a it’s a soffit best. No one feels like they’re not paying more to live regardless of what they promised.
Jordan: Well, that’s kind of my next general question is that affordability is the number one issue in the election according to all the polls brought us.
Mike: When they can get out ask all the other little things our economy is doing well
Jordan: That’s true. Why do so many people feel like this is an issue.
Mike: Because the economy itself is doing well, but people do not have the same type of jobs that they once did the age of the defined pension plan is gone away people have part-time jobs and in some cases, they need two or three to make what they did in previous generation.
You know, so there there’s more stress from that Angle Rental costs have gone up housing prices are up stratospherically over the past decade and I think that’s part of it too. I mean the cost of housing in a decade’s Time the prices in Toronto for example of doubled and if not even more so it’s just gone up exponentially.
At a pace that I don’t necessarily think that the income levels or you know, the amount that we spend it hasn’t adjusted. The money that we have day-to-day has not adjusted to the costs that have gone up car insurance prices. Remember remember the whole thing in the previous provincial election in Ontario is about getting not this last one, but prior to that it was all we’re going to lower Insurance costs never happened.
They were stagnant but for a little bit but in the past year most people’s bills just on insurance which we need to drive. It’s a mandatory thing has gone up 15 percent and they’re saying well this is because of climate change and all the all the expenses. So I mean the government’s regardless of their political stripe say that they can control certain things.
They can’t control anything when it comes to those type of things. It’s the same thing with this the whole debate over carbon taxes the PCS have been saying so much about well, we’re going to eliminate the carbon tax. Okay, fine that’ll take, you know, four and a half cents off of a liter of gas.
But again, that’s more. Impactful it when the price for gas is a buck 40 a litre as opposed to just being over a dollar a litre what has brought the price for gas down Market forces hasn’t been anything to do with carbon taxes the job-killing carbon tax that hasn’t shown up yet to be a major contributing factor to the cost of daily life, you know, if in fact it continues to go up over successive years, then it’s going to have a much larger impact right now, though.
Not so much. So again, there’s all these things that you know, they try to kind of work around the edges for lack of a better description. Yeah, you know the for example the Liberals on the carbon tax say well, we’re giving it back to you the consumer through a tax break that no one myself included actually saw that line item in my tax form.
Nobody looks at that. It’s not it’s not it’s not a tangible thing. You’re not getting a check, you know where you’re at. So here’s my three hundred dollars, whatever. Right to audit left him. It’s not every day. They say well we’re making it cheaper or more affordable because we’re not going to charge you for it.
But at the same time you don’t feel like it that’s a psychological thing. So, you know that I think from an affordability standpoint something to PCS really harped on is, you know, re-establishing the heart of the Harper era tax credits, which were popular. Sports Arts those types of an resp boost some of the the tangible things you can actually feel
Jordan: The around the edges stuff-
Mike: But it is it really– is it it’ll save, you know at best guess maybe a uppermost level $1000 right, but you still have to spend money to get that back because you’re signing your kids up for stuff, right?
So it’s. It’s again. It’s there. They’re trying to make it sound like they’re doing something but at the end of the day are they it’s debatable.
Jordan: Well, where are the differences them? Especially about the big things like let’s start with housing. Where is there anything that any of the government’s could do?
Mike: Well, they’re talking about extending the mortgage the mortgage amortization rate to 30 years. Yeah. So right there that’s going to lower your monthly payments, but you’re going to carry debt until you die. I mean like that’s because of psychological things. I’m going to do that. Anyway, so thing we roll We Roll again, the the cost of housing is gone up you have to take on all this extra debt and that is also added to the pressures of overall affordability because we’re servicing all this debt mmm, which is not unlike government, which is you know, an Ontario the the fourth largest line item was servicing the debt.
Yeah, so consumers and government aren’t all that different. I suppose and it just I guess how you frame it in on in the Ontario election. We have to cut spending because the debts getting too big this election. Nobody seems to care about deficit financing know the the Tories are the only ones who are kind of saying yeah, five years out will have a day this election is about helping you finance your deficit pretty much you’re right, you know, and and each party is kind of there hasn’t been much discussion about that.
There hasn’t been as much. Overall discussion about the economy. I think there’s been so many distracting issues maybe in the last week. It’ll come up a little bit more where people really kind of start to think. Okay, which of these parties is offering me the most goodies. I suppose for lack of videos better description, you know the NDP Pharmacare for all dental care for all.
Okay, those are huge social programs. Yeah, once you start that you’re not going back. You’re not scaling that back. It’s almost pretty is it that would be next to Impossible and you’re spending billions to do it. And the thing about that too is okay. That’s fine. But when we had sort of a Partial pharmacare Program under the Wynn government did my monthly insurance premiums?
At work come down. I don’t seem to remember that they did right right. They’re not necessarily the kind of saving but they’re not right. It’s still costing–
Jordan: Social programs are there for other people who don’t have work
Mike: Well, it’s but they’re talking to know about childcare and you know, some of the parties are talking about that talking about affordable.
Well, that’s huge to write. How do you get that? You know that for so many families that is a massive monthly. To work through over those early years until the kids are in the school system. So if you can solve that and again, that’s possibly a winning strategy. But again, where do you get the money for it?
Are you just kind of taking it and say well we’re just going to finance it through debt. Okay, because that’s what everybody else is doing to pay for houses. And it’s just this this spiral.
Jordan: Yes. What don’t we understand when I’m a voter and I’m looking at a long list of promises, and I know that. As always some of them will be fulfilled and others simply won’t what should I be looking for in these plans to let me know that like, okay this might happen and actually put money in my pocket.
Mike: If you can get past the identity politics, I think more than anything because we were we heard this time. Well, this party isn’t offering me as much as the other but I don’t like that guy. So I’m going to vote for this person. And it has doesn’t have as much to do with policy interestingly. Yeah, it’s yet maybe and we have seen the polls switch. Okay, they have, you know, depending on each and every Oddball Scandal.
That’s come a long it has adjusted to some extent. So I think again this is in the days leading up to it, you know, people are going to see the headlines and this is all going to come back to advertising. You know, we’re offering you X number of dollars for this this and this. You know, I think from the from the liberal side the Trudeau government, you know brought in the candidate child benefit, which they are, you know saying brought a lot of kids out of poverty and that has been borne out by the statistics and they’re going to advance that again.
So you’re going to hear more about that there has I don’t know if people can get their head necessarily around the pharmacare issue because it’s it’s still under this whole consultation face. And and certain items is like okay who’s going to cut me a check and sometimes it comes back to that right?
It’s like how much specific dollars are you going to give me to buy my vote? I mean, let’s face it. That’s a lot of this has to do with
Jordan: We’ve been doing a project looking back at the Rob Ford years in Toronto, and there was a $65 vehicle registration tax and he promised to cut that in people voted for it because 65 bucks was like real money. Yeah that you could see it was a one line item. Yeah, I think that you can see like I was paying this now. I’m not thanks.
Mike: Yeah, it’s remarkable how it’s sometimes they smaller items as opposed to the big-ticket multi-billion dollar projects.
Jordan: Even if it’s not that get in your best interest. It’s psychological that you feel like I’m not going to have to pay this. Therefore. This person is doing something for me.
Mike: Well it is it in your own best interest or in the best interest the collective good. Yeah, right where we are and
Jordan: Collectively we probably should have a vehicle registration tax.
Mike: Sure sure and a but at the end of the day, how is it affecting me right this guy in it and people are very much, you know
Jordan: People feel the same way about the carbon tax-
Mike: And it’s the same way that they don’t necessarily, you know, not people don’t want to talk politics.
Because it’s it’s it’s now we’re in an amplified social media sphere where if you say the wrong thing you’re going to get you know, hit hit on all sides. And so you bring it insular. What’s what’s what’s in it for me, and I’m not necessarily going to say anything, but I’m looking out for number one and it’s and it’s completely self-serving, but maybe that’s always been the way with politics.
Jordan: Well, I’m not going to ask you to say which party is better at anything. But when you were looking through your notes what stood out?
Mike: I think the conservatives are much more aggressive on and this has been their whole campaign for the most part about, you know, helping you get ahead. That’s their band right so they’re actually giving dollar amounts.
You know and the tax credits are certainly out there there, you know talking about cutting for a couple taxes on average about 800 bucks, which is a little bit more than the Liberals but the Liberals previously did that or so they claim, you know, I again when you’re talking about I think it comes down to more tax, whatever threshold you’re at.
I think you know the. Government has skewed more to lower-income. And I think the PCS are looking at more across the board the NDP and the green certainly aren’t talking about tax breaks. They’re talking about more expanded social programs. And you know, if you’re talking about Universal daycare, that’s that’s going to resonate absolutely although they’re not talking about it.
I suppose as vociferously as I thought they might I think just because of the cost. You know, it’s going to take they can’t just say oh we’re going to do this next year. Yeah. That’s that’s probably not realistic. I mean the greens are talking about balancing the books. So I mean the that as a as in and of itself is that’s going to take a lot of.
Finagling to get the the idea of these big-ticket projects under way to do that and others, you know that just figure well, we’ll just will finance it with debt, but I think the the idea of a Transit tax credit, for example, you know because why are we being sort of taxed on on something? We want people to use that.
You know that that’s if because part of the whole cost of living thing has been the fact that people in the suburbs suburbs have to drive to where they have to go to work. They’re not working near where they live. So there’s stuck in traffic Transit isn’t necessarily an option. And all of this again makes you angry that you can’t get ahead because it’s costing you too much sitting in traffic paying exorbitant interest Insurance costs trying to get to work.
Yeah, and it’s a spiral and you and we talk about the environment and we want to get people out of their cars but there’s no not enough and all of an alternative at this point to do that because the transit system is jammed and then you know from. A project standpoint, you know you hear about infrastructure great.
Okay, that takes years. Yeah, so to just to throw out this idea that all these things are as soon as the election happens in the first budget in are going to take place. It’s a long-term. Long-term project. So I mean they talk about like you say the smaller numbers. Okay, that sounds good. You know that I can you know 800 bucks for the couple.
Okay. Well, we’ll go that easy. Right? It’s simple
Jordan: You can budget around him whether or not it’s true.
Mike: Right exactly budget around it on your hand. You just feel better.
Jordan: I guess for lack of a better term psychological.
Mike: That’s right.
Jordan: And this isn’t something that I came into this conversation thinking we would talk about but I’m really interested in the idea of as a business reporter you look at.
The bottom lines of a lot of these things but you’ve come back to a couple times the difference between a line item. That’s a cut from something or that’s a cancel fee versus the benefit that you would get from social program like pharmacare or child care. How do we convince people or maybe not even convinced them?
But how do we explain to people? That that bottom line is different from this bottom line because you just can’t see it as well. Like people who just who are in it for themselves, right? Those programs still might benefit them more.
Mike: Well, it’s the same thing as offering free post-secondary education.
I think at the you know, the the basic level of that you go. Okay, that’s a great idea. But even at that you kind of go well, can we afford that? As a nation because they keep talking about the fact that we’ve still got these deficits and debts. So it’s such a big number because it will cause billions and maybe that’s the issue maybe people can’t kind of see that they can see I suppose long-term esoterically and say, oh that’s a good idea.
But is that necessarily what I’m going to vote for right now or when we wait. Or you know maybe and it also depends where you are in if you’ve got kids at that level sure it affects you. Yeah do that tomorrow right with to do that and same thing with daycare, right? You know, but after that for five years, then you’re out of that and then you’re kind of back to okay now we’re spending too much.
Yeah, right. It’s each of those is a very small kind of age demographic that you’re looking at. It’s not it’s not a long not an entire lifespan something that you think about. It depends where you are specifically either raising kids or getting the through the education system. So that’s why I think some of these more day-to-day items resonate a little better.
Because it doesn’t have the widespread, you know, electorate appeal because again, it’s like oh that’s great. Somebody else is paying for your education. Well, there was nobody there to pay for my kids education. So why am I gonna do it? Right? So that’s another thing it’s never been done and again sort of this where I didn’t get it exactly. I didn’t get it. So why should you.
Jordan: That’s not a great way to go around building a country.
Mike: It’s not it’s you’re absolutely right. It’s not but it’s sort of again. The way that politics is always worked in a weird way. It’s never been its you need the leadership to inspire. Yeah, and are we getting that I don’t know the polls would indicate not hmm, you know at the unfavorable ratings.
Of any of the four main leaders not very good or they’re very high from an unfavorable standpoint. Let alone, you know, someone you want to go to bat for yeah and and and support it’s almost this illusion.
Jordan: Yeah, I believe Jagmeet Singh is the only one with a positive favorability right now?
Mike: So when you when you’re under that circumstance, You aren’t rallying people behind a cause it’s more voting against something as opposed to voting for
Jordan: Or rallying them around their own pocketbook more or less.
Mike: Yeah. Yeah. It’s. If you’re kind of making me depressed right now,
Jordan: That’s what we do on this podcast
Mike: It’s not the most favorable thing. But unfortunately, that’s sort of the election cycle. We’re in right now.
Jordan: Thanks Mike.
Mike: Thank you. Happy voting
Jordan: Mike Eppel senior business editor at 680 news and at City news. That was the Big Story, for more from us including a new podcast hosted by myself, you can head to frequencypodcastnetwork.com or thegravytrain podcast.com. You remember Toronto’s crack mayor? Well, we have that story. You can also catch us and all our other podcasts wherever you get them on Apple, on Google, on Stitcher, on Spotify.
And if you want to talk to us, we are on Twitter as always at @thebigstoryfpn. Thanks for listening. I’m Jordan Heath Rawlings. We’ll talk tomorrow.
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