Written by Alex Cosh

A new one-time "grocery rebate" proposed in the latest federal budget works out to just $9 per week for a family of four over the course of 12 months.

Grocery costs have continued to rise this year, putting a strain on Canadians struggling to keep up with high prices. Data from Statistics Canada in February showed that food prices increased 11.4 per cent in January year-over-year. In February, food prices were up 10.6 per cent year-over-year.

Last year, nearly a quarter of Canadians reported going hungry because there wasn't enough money for food, according to a poll conducted by Mainstreet Research. Grocery chains, meanwhile, have seen their profit margins steadily rise since the start of the pandemic.

The federal budget, tabled Tuesday, acknowledged that rising grocery costs have caused "undue stress," and proposed a one-time "Grocery Rebate" that will provide eligible couples with two children with "up to an extra $467."

That figure works out to a $9 contribution to a family's weekly grocery bill over a period of 52 weeks.

The exact eligibility requirements for the full rebate are unclear. The budget states that the payment will benefit 11 million "low- and modest-income Canadians and families," and gives an example of a couple earning a total of $38,000 between them as receiving the full amount.

The rebate will be paid through the CRA's GST tax credit mechanism, and will cost a total of $2.5 billion.

The budget also outlined spending commitments on dental care, tax increases on wealthy individuals and additional aid to Ukraine. Key pledges include:

  • A dental care plan for Canadian families making less than $90,000 per year, with no co-pays for those making under $70,000 per year. This measure was the key pledge in the NDP's agreement to support the Liberal government, and was the only measure in the agreement that was not an existing Liberal election promise or federal program.
  • Raising the "alternative minimum tax" from 15 per cent to 20.5 per cent, which Ottawa says will generate $3 billion in revenue over five years by making wealthier Canadians pay more.
  • Loaning an additional $2.4 billion in support payments to Ukraine to help sustain the country's government finances as it continues to fight Russia's invasion. The budget states that these funds will be used to pay "pensions and delivering essential government services to Ukrainians, purchasing fuel to get through the winter, and restoring damaged energy infrastructure."

The budget contained no mention of moving forward on pharmacare, a longstanding Liberal commitment and part of the Liberal-NDP agreement.

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