Millennial families say federal budget was ‘a letdown’ amid cost of living struggles

It’s a picture-perfect scene: Adam and Maria Reynolds are playing with their daughters – Hanna, 2, and Maya, 5 – inside their Port Coquitlam, B.C. home. Watching them together, you might not realize the Reynolds household is stretched to its limit financially.

“We used to live in Vancouver, but obviously we can’t afford to live in Vancouver,” Maria told CTV News. “It’s getting harder and harder,” added Adam.

Adam is a plumber and Maria works in freelance marketing, but the couple can’t afford to buy anything larger than a condominium. Even in the suburbs, there’s no avoiding the cost-of-living crisis that has hit so many Canadians.

“For us, it’s the rising costs of groceries, gas prices, even utility prices as well,” said Adam.

They’ve watched friends move out of the province in search of savings and more space. Maria monitors their movements on the local moms’ Facebook group. “The east coast, Alberta, the U.S., Europe,” she recounted.

The couple is encouraged by the commitments in the federal budget to help affordability by getting more homes built long-term, but say they need more help now.

“It’s a little bit of a letdown. I don’t see anything that would directly impact us immediately,” said Maria, a sentiment echoed by her husband. “I was definitely expecting a bit more,” he said.

‘How much are people willing to pay for a croissant?’

On the other side of the country, Fredericton, N.B. small business owner Patti Hollenberg also feels left behind. “It comes to a breaking point where you, as a business owner, are the working poor.”

Hollenberg owns the Chess Piece Patisserie and Café. It was her dream to open a from-scratch bakery ten years ago. What she didn’t see coming was the increased cost of ingredients like cocoa, almonds and sugar, and upticks in property tax, utilities, and wages. All have risen between 30 per cent and 184 per cent between 2020 and 2024.

Property taxes, utilities, and minimum wage raises have pushed up operating costs for Chess Piece Patisserie & Cafe in Fredericton, N.B.

That has left her on the brink of bankruptcy and running out of options.

“How much are people willing to pay for a croissant? It’s becoming not sustainable to operate a small business and earn a profit,” Hollenberg said.

She’s glad to see the carbon tax rebate now coming to small businesses, but says she feels relief otherwise has been non-existent.

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