I often look back at all the times I used to joke about having $5 in my bank account, and I want to kick myself, because now I do only have $5 in my bank account. To be honest, sometimes I think it’s my own fault that I’m in this situation, but then I realize that the problem may not be just me, but the insane cost of living in Toronto.
The cost of living throughout Canada, and Toronto in particular, is on the rise and becoming a serious problem for students. The average price of goods rose seven per cent from August 2021 to 2022 and, over the last 12 months, grocery prices have increased by 10.5 per cent. In terms of rent, this year, landlords can raise their rent by 2.5 per cent, which is the highest increase guideline in Ontario in a decade. It seems that inflation is hitting Toronto and it’s hitting hard.
For students, the harsh truth is that living in Toronto simply isn’t affordable. For instance, I find it difficult to eat out on a student budget. Preparing my own meals and cooking at home is the most affordable way for me to consume food. Even then, I always find myself avoiding looking at my receipt from Loblaws. The excessive hike in prices is just too painful to acknowledge.
It’s safe to say that inflation isn’t getting any better anytime soon, and if you too are a student, then I’ve got some bad news for you. Currently, as of September 2022, inflation in Canada is at 6.9 per cent. Last year, inflation was at an annual increase of 3.4 per cent. As students, we all know the way it goes. Most of us are on student budgets, and for the most part, we are pretty broke. The particularly significant inflation this year only makes it more difficult for students to pay for daily costs.
To accommodate these rising costs, students might avoid doing their laundry for two weeks because they can’t afford detergent. Other times, they might have no choice but to stay at home and miss out on events with their friends because they can’t afford to go out. Students might not even be able to afford mandatory textbooks for classes, which affects quality of education and access to resources.
There have been many instances myself where I find myself walking home at odd hours because a $30 Uber ride is just impossible for me to take. Lastly, the rising cost of living in Toronto severely affects mental health. It’s hard to live in a world where everything revolves around money. Even simple tasks like hanging out with friends will require some form of money spent.
Not all hope is lost. According to the Financial Post, the Canadian government has announced an initiative that consists of three different measures that will make life more affordable. The measures in the bill include doubling Goods and Services Tax Credit for six months, providing dental benefits to children under 12 and delivering a one-time $500 to 1.8 million renters struggling with cost of housing. Students in particular will be supported through the Canada Student Grant, which will be doubled until July 2023. They will also be suspending interest on Canada Student Loans up till March 2023.
However, students need more initiatives like these from the government of Canada. Everyone knows that student life often comes with living on a strict budget, but it should not also come with looming debt that extends far beyond graduation. The harsh truth is that the financial pressures of post-secondary education places substantial strain on students, especially those from low-income households.
Hiba Faisal is a fourth-year student at University College double majoring in English and political science and minoring in history.