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The big squeeze

Rising taxes, rising costs, and the impact on the Whistler standard of living

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Some of those costs are being absorbed at different levels by distributors and grocery stores, or were offset by the higher Canadian dollar. Some fruits and vegetables are actually cheaper now than they were last year.

That kept food inflation to just 1.9 per cent in May 2008 compared to May 2007, but a bigger increase is expected this year once fuel prices are fully reflected in crop prices. It should also be noted that Canada is an anomaly, with the U.S. reporting food price inflation around four per cent for the same period.

For my family, the estimated increase from $460 a month to $510 a month represents an increased cost of $600 this past year. That’s about nine times higher, percentage wise, than the 1.9 per cent food inflation estimated by Statistics Canada, and almost three times the four per cent increase measured by the Ontario Association of Food Banks.

That could mean one of two things — Whistler prices have increased more than the national average, or that I’m spending more on groceries than before. Since we’ve made a conscious effort to eat out less for lunch and dinner (we budget for $100 a month, and only go slightly over) it’s likely the result of buying more groceries.

For the purposes of this article, where I’m trying to figure out how much my costs have increased, I’ll pretend my costs increased by inflation, which they didn’t, and that costs will remain static this year, which they won’t. By that measure I estimate that my household is going to spend an additional $116.28 this year on food.

The grand total, with housing, utilities, transportation and food:

Property Tax — $180

Strata Fees — $480

Propane — $77

Hydro — $60 (this year, $135 next)

Gas — $420

Food — $116 (actually about $600)

Total: $1,333 a year, or $111 a month With the food increase, it’s more like $1933 a month, or $161 a month.

While that may not seem like a lot, keep in mind that our costs were already high before all of these increases kicked in when you include our mortgage, car insurance, house and life insurance, phone, internet, cable, cell phone, bike upkeep, snow gear, and après ski festivities. That $111 a month comes out of whatever is left after all these things are bought and paid for, which was never very much to begin with.