March 4th, 2022 - Question Period - Canada's Inflation Rate
Canada’s Inflation Rate
Hon. Rose-May Poirier: Honourable senators, my question is for the Government Leader in the Senate. On Monday an Angus Reid survey revealed that over half of Canadians feel they cannot keep up with the cost of living. According to Statistics Canada, in January inflation grew by 5.1 year over year — the highest level since 1991.
This year it has become harder for Canadian families to feed themselves. The cost of fresh fruit has gone up 8.2%, margarine is up 0.5% over the past year, chicken is up 9% in just one month and beef is up 13%, again in just one month.
Senator Gold, you recently stated that the Trudeau government is seized with the issue of inflation. When you look at these grocery prices for families going higher and higher, how do you show a government seized with the high cost of living?
Hon. Marc Gold (Government Representative in the Senate): Thank you for the question.
The rising cost of living is a preoccupation for all Canadians. Even those of us in our privileged position know it when we go shopping, as we all do, for our daily bread and for that of our families.
We live in a free economy and in a federal system. We do not live in a command economy, and we should all count our blessings for that. It is not the role of the federal government to dictate or manipulate the prices of basic goods.
That said, the government, through various initiatives, has been working hard to help Canadians buttress or mitigate the impact of this. But there are certain levers simply not open to a government in a democratic country. The recent hike of the interest rates by 25 basis points may have some impact on the cost of goods.
Much of what we’re experiencing in Canada is outside the control of any one government. It has to do with worldwide issues, worldwide supply chain challenges, to say nothing of the effects of the pandemic and of war currently raging in Ukraine. The government is doing what it can, and it will continue to do so.
Senator Poirier: A recent report from the Parliamentary Budget Officer noted that since the start of the pandemic about one third of the Trudeau government’s planned spending is not related to its COVID-19 response plan.
The PBO also pointed out that the Liberal government’s plan for future spending puts additional pressure on inflation. This is at a time when inflation is at a level not seen in over 30 years.
Leader, the observation is from the non-partisan Parliamentary Budget Officer, who supports the work of all parliamentarians. Will the Trudeau government listen to this warning from the PBO?
Senator Gold: The government takes very seriously the advice, input and warnings of the PBO, and properly so. The government is doing what it feels it needs to do at this juncture, with the tools it has, to address the situation of rising inflation and will continue to do so.