Ahead of a federal election, which now appears to be almost a certainty, it seems Canadians are so sick of COVID-19 they have turned their minds to other concerns.
Recent polling suggests the most pressing issue for most of us is “the economy.”
Of course, this is a perennial concern, but what does it really mean?
“The economy” is a massive, nebulous concept that encompasses pretty much every other top-of-mind issue. Because it is so complex, we tend to get caught up in statistical simplifications such as GDP, average household incomes, unemployment rates and the like.
As far as those things go, the economy can seem robust and the latest Conference Board of Canada projections are very optimistic about economic growth, but are Canadians really going to better off?
A post-pandemic election is going to feel a lot like the pre-pandemic election.
In 2019, “the economy” was also humming right along before COVID-19 struck. And yet, top of mind for voters were issues of cost of living, income inequality, housing affordability, childcare and healthcare.
Those issues are back and, in fact, have been exacerbated by the pandemic.
And now we are facing them with a $1 trillion debt due to $354 billion in COVID-related deficit spending, not to mention the Liberals’ pre-election call spending spree.
We are facing inflation while real wages for all but the wealthiest among us are stagnant at best and probably declining.
It’s worse for younger Canadians than it is for older Canadians.
It’s worse for racialized Canadians than it is for white Canadians.
It’s worse for women than it is for men.
It’s worse for low- and medium-income earners than it is for high-income earners.
The bottom line is an economy that doesn’t work for all of us doesn’t work at all.
The federal parties have a steep hill to climb to get us back on track.
As voters, it may be more important than ever that we hold them accountable this fall.