The federal minister of families, children and social development says she agrees Canada is in the midst of an affordability crisis, but wants to see provincial and territorial governments do more to help.
“I think that many families, in particularly lower income families, are really struggling right now to make ends meet,” Karina Gould told CTV’s Question Period host Vassy Kapelos, in an interview airing Sunday. “The high cost of rent, the high cost of food, is having a big impact.”
“And even for folks who are in the middle class, they’re feeling the squeeze,” she added. “So yeah, people are struggling right now.”
Liberal MPs and cabinet ministers — including the prime minister — are continuing their tour of the country this week, touting their recently tabled budget, which focuses largely on pocketbook issues.
A key line item in the budget is the “grocery rebate” — a one-time payment through the GST tax credit system with the goal of helping low- and modest-income earners pay their bills. It’s a move that saw several cabinet ministers, including Gould herself, stopping at grocery stores this week to laud the Liberal government’s affordability measures.
The rebate would see eligible seniors receive $225, while a single person would receive $234, and couples with two children could receive a payment of up to $467.
But when pressed on whether the payment is enough to help Canadians who say they’re struggling to put food on the table, Gould said the measure is just a piece of the Liberal government’s larger affordability measures.
“The grocery rebate isn’t designed to absorb all of the additional costs that families are facing, but it’s designed to be there to give that little bit of extra help,” Gould said.
“It’s important also not to see it in isolation. I mean, it’s an important measure, but it’s not the only measure that we’ve taken as a government,” she also said, citing the Canada Child Benefit as an example.
Gould added when it comes to certain affordability measures — such as disability benefits or housing policy — they need to be carried out in concert with provincial and territorial governments.
“I think that there’s more that provinces could do,” she said.
“We can take important measures at the federal level, and I think we have,” she said. “We need to keep looking at what else we need to do, but we also need to make sure that provinces and territories are also supporting that work, because it doesn’t happen in a vacuum. We have to be doing it together.”
Gould said the federal government is “not the only actor in this space,” when it comes to issues like social assistance and support for the charitable sector.
“I think we’ve taken a lot of measures, and that doesn’t mean we can’t think about what else needs to happen, because I think that’s really important too,” she said. “But we also need to have those partners at the provincial level as well, who are making those changes to some of their programs to really ensure that we’re helping our lowest income and most vulnerable Canadians.”