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Here’s how people in N.L. feel about a long year of ballooning prices (for just about everything)

A woman holds up her hands in dismay
Maria Peddle, a student in St. John’s, says she’s barely squeaking by with the cost of everything skyrocketing this year. (Malone Mullin/CBC)

From rent to fuel and everything else, life in Newfoundland and Labrador got a lot pricier in 2023. 

The triple-whammy of inflation, low housing stock and interest rate hikes hit bank accounts hard. Statistics Canada reports the shelf price of goods at the grocery store have spiked 20 per cent in the last two years; provincial data, meanwhile, shows housing costs rising about five per cent since 2022.

The future looked especially bleak for workers profiled in The Grind, a CBC series that followed people juggling jobs to combat the soaring costs of food, shelter and transportation.

WATCH I We asked the experts — how can we help? 

heres how people in n l feel about a long year of ballooning prices for just about everything 1

How we can help people escape the grind of working multiple jobs

14 hours ago

Duration 3:13

Our series The Grind began with a troubling trend: more and more Canadians are picking up second jobs. Now that we’ve met some of them, we’re concluding our series with a question: what can we do to help?

As the year draws to a close, CBC News asked passersby in St. John’s how the cost of living crisis has affected them.

Here’s what they said.

Gail Perks

The cost of living is going crazy. I mean, going to the supermarket, you used to be able to go in and $100, you’d have a cartload. And today, $100 and you’ll come out with one bag.

We’re retired, so we’re living on fixed incomes. You know, there used to be money put away every month, but there’s not anymore.

[We’re cutting back on] the extras in life. You know, the going out to dinner … those things can wait. We have grandkids, we try to give to them at Christmastime and that.

We’re doing fine. It’s the [homeless] up there by the Colonial Building and people struggling. Do we save? No. But that’s OK. We can make our ends meet, but there are people who can’t, and those are the people I feel sorry for.

An older woman and her husband in a grocery store parking lot
Gail Perks and her husband are living on pensions and find themselves giving up small luxuries they once enjoyed. (Malone Mullin/CBC)

Patrick Boekhoud 

The prices are going through the roof right now, and just having bought groceries right now, you can see how much everything is, especially coming up on the holiday season. It was a huge difference on the budget and what you can get, and the quality of things that you can get here.

I don’t actually have the option [to get a second job] right now because I’m on parental leave, so it’s a fixed income and I can’t work until the parental leave is up. So you just kind of have to make do with what you can right now. It’s a difficult time.

I think we’re more price-conscious. So I think we’re looking for things on sale rather than necessarily the brand that we usually get. So I think it does make a difference in the types of things that you’re buying at the store.

A man in a parking lot
Patrick Boekhoud says just shopping for groceries feels like a battle these days. (Malone Mullin/CBC)

Maria Peddle

Unsurprisingly, girl, [the cost of living] is wacky. It’s going up. Things are looking bad. Can’t afford to eat. Went to the grocery store the other day, got a few vegetables.… I got some 50-per-cent-off cheese. $100 it was. And I had the PC points and everything. It’s impossible.

I get minimum wage at my job. I’m also a student, so I can’t work full time. And it’s just like, really, really rough. I have a really affordable house. I live in the last frontier of affordable housing, it feels like, in downtown St. John’s, and I’m still struggling.

My partner’s really, really good at finding deals. So I have gotten a lot better at looking for the deals at the grocery store and only getting things that are on sale or discounted or whatever, not shopping and just like… going to the mall, get some clothes or whatever. I don’t do that anymore.

So, like, there are things that … I don’t need to do that I stopped. But I’m like, girly. Some people are continuing to do that, living in their big house on Circular Road. When are they going to give it up, you know?

I’m going to try to get a job at a kitchen that has tips and stuff.… I’ll eat the kitchen scraps there for dinner. Save a bit of cash in that regard.

A woman shakes her fist
Maria Peddle is gunning for a kitchen job in the new year and hoping free food comes along with the gig. (Malone Mullin/CBC)

Sylvia Moulton

It’s crazy. The cost of living is so high now it’s really hard to get by, especially on a paycheque. You’re just paycheque to paycheque. It’s in and out.

I actually just got another job to help pay for everything.… As fast as you get paid, it’s gone. The money is gone. Groceries are up ever since COVID. It’s all pretty nuts.

I work 37 [hours] at one job, full time, and then working part time at the other job. So I’m pretty busy.

A woman on a downtown street
Sylvia Moulton had to pick up a second job as a direct result of rising prices this year. (Malone Mullin/CBC)

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