Inflation: When you have to cut into the flesh

Inflation hit a record high of 6.8% in Canada in April. Behind the numbers, it is the people who suffer the consequences. But with the rising cost of living, not all are created equal. First in a series of portraits of the faces of inflation.

Pierre Lauzon is not satisfied with much. The 68-year-old, dressed in a Harley-Davidson T-shirt, praises the amenities of his small Montreal studio with no balcony where his red scooter sits. There are pictures of her grandchildren on the wall.

“The bathroom is big. For cooking, even for cooking, it is perfect. There is a large space at the entrance to squeeze all my stuff, I have closets en masse. IM right, here. »

This former truck driver, chef and jailer is lucky to have found this apartment for under $500 in a building in the Ville-Émard neighborhood managed by the organization Alternatives communautaire d’habitation et d’intervention de milieu (ACHIM). . .

He was driving around in his humble vehicle when, after six months of research between Montreal and Saint-Jérôme, where his son lives, he discovered his haven of peace. “I jumped on it because I had nowhere to stay,” says the man, who lived with his daughter for six months after also living with his son for a year. He had lost virtually everything after a breakup and then serious health problems that forced his hospitalization and walkout.

“For someone who hasn’t found an apartment like mine at a good price with the rent increases we’re seeing today, I don’t know how they’re doing it. There is a gang of little old people who must be depressed,” says this former resident of Amos, in Abitibi-Témiscamingue. The ACHIM also confirms that nearly forty seniors are on its waiting list in the hope that housing will soon become available.

Despite his affordable rent, Mr. Lauzon’s budget is tight, very tight. He estimates all of his monthly expenses to be $1,696 while his income is approximately $1,700 and consists primarily of state old-age and retirement benefits. However, you cannot tell him that he is particularly wasteful: rent, food, electricity, television, landline telephone, hygiene and cleaning products and medicines make up the majority of his expenses.

“I have heart problems, kidney problems, diabetes. I take about twenty pills a day,” said the man with the hoarse, mocking voice. In addition, during the interview with The dutyMr Lauzon was visited by two nurses who cleaned his wounds and changed the bandages on his swollen legs.

Because he doesn’t have a car, he isn’t affected by rising gas costs, unlike his neighbor Denise Gagné, who is considering getting rid of her car. The Director General of ACHIM, Pamela David, notes that several residents have had to part with their house for financial reasons.

Mr. Lauzon, on the other hand, indulges in his cigarettes and lottery tickets for entertainment. “When I was working, I liked going to shows, theater, musicians. I went to the cinema every week. I do not have. That’s where it’s easiest to cut,” he says.

Painful shopping cart

But above all, the increase in the price of food hurts. Mr. Lauzon waves a chicken out of his freezer. “I picked this up at the Super C for $10. It’s expensive for a small chicken,” he judges, pouting.

To save money, the grandfather reduced his meat and fish consumption. On the advice of his daughter, he switched to tofu in particular. The price of the package of five meals a week, served at his apartment, will change from June 1stah July from $172 to $199. The organization explains that inflation and the departure of another group benefiting from the food service forced them to raise their prices, a situation that some residents found difficult to bear.

According to Statistics Canada’s Personal Inflation Rate Calculator, Mr. Lauzon’s cost of living increased by 5% between April 2021 and April 2022, and by about 1.8% in three months. Although indexed, some benefits for seniors are not strictly based on the cost of living. For example, Mr. Lauzon’s pension benefits, which are reviewed four times a year, rose 1% in April, while Canada’s consumer price index rose 3.3% over the previous three months. Mme David and the Réseau FADOQ, which defends the rights of pensioners, believe that this pension should be improved so that many seniors can lead a decent life.

Internet and travel dreams

If he doesn’t want to feel sorry for himself, Mr. Lauzon still dreams of a bigger apartment, like the one in the annexe. He could afford it if he got the rent supplement, which would mean paying rent at 25% of his income. He is eligible, but has to be patient, because ACHIM can only offer 50% of its tenants subsidized living space. The organization is also asking the Quebec government to dedicate a larger portion to it.

Mr. Lauzon would also like help around the house. “I can’t always wash the bathtub and the toilet bowl, it’s difficult. The floor is fine because I can lean on the “mop”. I do the dishes bit by bit because it hurts me to stay on my feet for a long time. »

If he had the opportunity, he would install the Internet in his apartment. With basic computer courses, he could shop online, do his banking, and check bus schedules, which would save him the hassle of traveling. “I hesitate because it’s a payment every month and it’s expensive,” he complains.

He is currently hoarding his money to buy new cookware as his is at the end of its useful life. Unlucky, this product category has seen a price increase of 16.2% in Quebec over the past year.

There are also excursions. Taking a cruise on the St. Lawrence River, flying to Vancouver by plane, watching the glaciers in Newfoundland… He thinks of these projects with a smile, never having given up hope of being able to make them a reality. In the meantime, he enjoys scratching his lottery tickets and watching TV shows.

To see in the video

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