A series of Canadian polls killed two birds with one stone this month, saying Prime Minister Justin Trudeau spends and taxes 'too much,' earning him the title of 'worst prime minister.'
According to an Ipsos poll conducted for the Montreal Economic Institute (MEI), two in three Canadians believe they pay too much income tax, with fewer than one in four thinking the feds are fiscally prudent.
As of June 19, every dollar Canadians earn from this point represents a dollar not pocketed by grubby government bureaucrats.
"If Canadians paid all their taxes up front, they would work the first 169 days of this year before bringing any money home for themselves and their families," said Jake Fuss, associate director of fiscal studies at the Fraser Institute.
In 2023, the average Canadian family of two or more people will pay $64,610 in total taxes, representing 46.1% of their annual gross income ($140,106). Last year, the average family paid 45.2% of its income to the government.
According to the Canadian Taxpayers Federation (CTF), Canadians faced "significant tax changes" this year. The New Year's Tax Changes report outlined higher CPP and EI premiums by hundreds of dollars, $445 more in carbon taxes — including a second carbon tax — and a 6.3% tax increase on booze.
According to a Research Co. survey, these impacts have given Trudeau the title of the 'worst prime minister' of the last half-century.
Thirty percent said he is the worst among Canada's recent leaders, followed by his predecessor Stephen Harper at 18%.
Criticism of Trudeau increased in Western Canada, especially Alberta, where his negative rating reached 45%. In B.C., Saskatchewan and Manitoba, it comes to 36%.
Other findings include that two in three Canadians recognize that increased government worsens the impact of inflation.
The federal government spent an unprecedented $309 billion on COVID pandemic relief, putting the fiscal future of Canada at risk, according to the C.D. Howe Institute. This is an underestimate compared to the $359.7 billion reported by the Fraser Institute.
The COVID pandemic expenditures partly increased federal spending by 73% to $644.2 billion in 2020/21 before declining to an estimated $508 billion in 2021/22.
Total federal spending rose 27% from 2019/20 to 2022/23, with much of the expenditure independent of the pandemic "representing a permanent long-term ramping up of federal spending."
Inflation fluttered at over 8% when the feds spent money taxpayers never had — leaving the country's finances in shambles.
Last year marked the third highest federal per-person debt at $47,070 — behind only 2020 and 2021 — 25% higher than before the pandemic.
Despite the commitment to reduce government spending, Parliament has not balanced a budget since 2007. In 2021, the federal debt surpassed the $1 trillion mark.
"Not only do Canadians find that the Trudeau government spends too much, but they also find that it spends unwisely," said Renaud Brossard, senior director of communications at the MEI.
"This [indicates] a disconnect between the Department of Finance and the people whose money is entrusted in its care."
Last month, Finance said budget forecasts "should not be viewed as a prediction of the future."
Surprisingly, 64% of Québec residents have taken issue with the out-of-control federal spending. Over half (55%) of Canadians nationwide agree.
"Canada's in a full-blown economic growth crisis, which is homegrown and due largely to poor government policy," said Philip Cross, a senior fellow at the Fraser Institute.
"The federal government can't blame COVID because the slow growth began before the pandemic."
Despite falling inflation, economic anxieties remain, as two in three respondents say their tax burden is too high. As a result, more Canadians opposed the carbon tax (45%) than supported it (41%), with the Atlantic provinces representing the most vigorous opposition at 68%.
"The message Canadians are sending Ottawa is unequivocal," said Brossard. "They are asking Ottawa to cut its spending, review its priorities, and reduce their tax burden."
According to Statistics Canada, Canadians from coast to coast feel little reprieve at grocery stores, with food prices rising 9.1% last month.
Canada's Food Price Report 2023 predicted a 5% to 7% food price increase this year, following a 10% increase in 2022. The cost of vegetables, dairy and meat became notably more expensive.
A kilogram of cabbage rose 12% from $2.71 to $3.03 a head, while half a kilo of spaghetti rose a fifth from $2.92 to $3.51. The consumer costs for other notable food items like margarine, chicken and grapes rose between 11% to 34%.
The average family of four is expected to spend up to $16,288.41 annually on food this year — up an additional $1,065.60 from 2022.
According to Health Canada, inflation has overtaken the Canada Food Guide, with prices for most recommended foods increasing sharply since 2019.
StatsCan confirmed that food prices rose faster in 2022 than in any year since 1981. The cost of food rose by at least 9.2% in each province last December over one year.
Experts cite international events like the Russian-Ukraine war as a driver of food inflation and the Canadian dollar's lesser value than the U.S. dollar.
"The uncertainty from the ongoing Ukraine war shows no signs of ceasing, and the Canadian dollar compared to the U.S. dollar has recently ranged five to seven cents lower, and this has driven up the cost of all imported American products," said Dr. Stuart Smyth, University of Saskatchewan campus lead for Food Price.
In December, he attributed labour shortages in critical sectors, such as crop harvesting, food processing, and transportation and lower food supply for continued inflation.
Last September, inflation fell from 8.1% to 6.9%, yet the cost of food rose a staggering 10.8% compared to September 2021. Bread, eggs, fresh fruit, fats and oil increased by 27.7% nationwide.