'Life is so difficult right now': Grocery rebate expected in 2023 federal budget
British Columbians who are struggling to pay for groceries could soon see some relief from the federal government.
In an attempt to ease the financial burden rising food costs are having on Canadians, sources tell CTV News that the 2023 budget, when it is announced Tuesday, will include "grocery rebate."
Once the budget is passed, low-income families, seniors and individuals will be eligible. According to sources, the new measure will see couples with two children receive a payment of up to $467. A single person would receive $234 dollars and a single senior would receive $225.
Vancouver resident Sharon Olsen recently turned 71 and says she is considered low-income. Over the last few years, she has watched her bank account dwindle as the cost of living has soared.
"Life is so difficult right now," said Olsen from inside her apartment.
The senior says she is grateful for any financial assistance but questions what impact $225 will have as grocery prices show no signs of dropping. Olsen believes the feds should find a way to address the root causes of climbing costs, calling a cheque from Ottawa a "Band-Aid" solution.
"Give a man a fish and he eats for the day. Teach a man to fish and he eats for life," she said.
According to Statistics Canada's latest inflation report, food prices rose 11.4 per cent year-over-year in January, nearly double the rate of inflation of 5.9 per cent and up from 11 per cent the previous month.
On Monday, a team of researchers at the Agri-Food Analytics lab at Dalhousie University estimated that, due to inflation, an average Canadian family of four will pay at least an additional $1,000 this year for food.
Dr. Sylvain Charlebois, the lead researcher, said he's concerned that the spending by the feds could have unintended consequences.
"We don't know for sure if people will be spending the money on food," he said.
"When you pour $2 billion into an economy, you risk seeing food inflation become a more significant problem. When you do that, you penalize everyone, and food inflation is a monetary problem in the first place."
The Greater Vancouver Food Bank was also skeptical about the efficacy of a rebate.
Over the last year, they have welcomed, at times, upwards of 1,000 new clients per month. In total, the GVFB says they feed about 16,000 people each year – and the demand is growing.
Chief Operating Officer Cynthia Boulter says the number of children, seniors and families in need is breaking records.
"It will help in a small way for a few moments if people are able to spend this money on groceries," said Boulter.
"Given that food inflation seems to have the most lasting power in terms of the situation we're in with the economy, honestly, we would have rather seen efforts go towards reducing that."
The grocery rebate will be rolled out through the GST system, once a bill implementing it passes in the House of Commons, according to sources.
With files from CTV News' Senior Digital Parliamentary Reporter Rachel Aiello.
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