27 January 2009

Impressions of Budget

... from residents of two households whose total earnings already place them in the lowest decile income bracket - that is, too low to pay income tax. Neither household receives social or other government assistance.

Budget 2009 allows for modest tax cuts for people who earn under $80,000 per year and pay income tax. These tax cuts are not refundable tax credits. Thus the lowest income earners are left out.


My total annual income is under $8,000, of which rent consumes over 70 percent. My monthly expenditures are for rent, Internet connection, hydro and food.

I haven't a phone; I don't buy clothing; I don't go to the dentist; I don't go to the movies or theatre or to restaurants; I haven't a car and don't use the public transit system. I walk everywhere, although a disability makes this painful.

Without a phone, the Internet is my only means of connecting to the outside world; eliminate that and I'm truly cut off.

The only 'discretionary' spending my budget allows is for food.

The prices of most food staples have risen up to 50 percent over the past six months alone.
  • Bread from $0.89 per loaf to $1.39. 
  • Brown rice from $12.99 to $19.99. 
  • Soy milk from $3.89 to $4.49. 
  • Tofu from $1.68 to $1.98. 
  • Dark green lettuce from $0.89 to $1.89. 
These are items I consume every day.

Due to the price increases, I've either had to purchase the lowest quality and least nutritious item (white rather than brown rice), consume less (soy milk, tofu, lettuce) or go without (bread - until I unexpectedly acquired an old breadmaker).

As prices continue to rise, I'll be unable to keep cutting back. My ability to pay the rent will suffer as a result. Eventually, I'll have to leave this place. Eventually, I'll become homeless.


I live on an exceedingly small income, less than $9,000 a year. I own my own home outright. I pay regional and provincial taxes, house insurance, hydro, water, recycling and garbage fees. These payments are non-negotiable. There is also ongoing upkeep to be done to the house, as it was built in the 1940's. I heat with electricity supplemented by a wood burning stove. This takes up a large amount of my income.

With what is left, I feed and clothe myself while caring for a disabled partner who "falls through the cracks" as far as any social assistance is concerned.

I recently gave up one of my three part time jobs to be more available to care for my aging mother, who lives a ferry ride away. The cost of a return trip, including bus fare to the mainland is nearly $50. I visit twice a month or more.

The new federal budget has nothing for the working poor of this country. Yet we are precisely the people who would be most likely to spend, rather than save, any money given us to bolster our starved budgets.

ETA: We sent an email to Michael Ignatieff, requesting that he vote down the budget. We cc'd it to Jack Layton and Gilles Duceppe.

ETA 2: See THIRD HOUSEHOLD in comments below.

Recommend this post