How four Canadians from different generations view hot election issues

They're born in different generations, but these Canadians agree Toronto's housing market and cost of living are out of control

They’re born in different generations, but there’s one thing these Canadians agree on: Toronto’s housing market and cost of living are out of control.

The federal election has taken over public discourse with these hot-button topics like affordability, the housing market and Canada’s relationship with Indigenous communities at the forefront.

We spoke with four Toronto residents to share their perspectives.

Aysha Abdulkarim is a 19-year-old student living in Toronto.

Aysha Abdulkarim

Aysha Abdulkarim is a 19-year-old student.

How do you feel about the current situation in the housing market?

I think it’s ridiculous. Even though I’m still young, I’m still looking forward to buying a house. But I feel like as the years go by, it’s just going to be more complex and more challenging for my generation to buy a home because of workers’ wages. Also, the amount that they’re selling these houses, townhouses and apartments for is just ridiculous. It doesn’t make any sense. It’s like they’re giving us no way to own a home for ourselves in the future.

How do you feel about the cost of living in Toronto?

The cost of living in Toronto, as a whole, has been expensive. Before the pandemic began, I felt like everything was okay. The cost of living was doable, but now it’s difficult to live here in Toronto. Groceries are more expensive, and eating out is costly. Things are just extra. I feel like we’ve added expenses that we wouldn’t have had to pay for before. Everything has become centred around money.

How do you feel about our relationship with the Indigenous communities?

I feel strongly for them. I don’t think the relationship is good at all, as much as the government wants to put it out on the media that it is good. The things that they say they do, I don’t think it’s all true. Because if it were true, the Indigenous people would not be fighting for their rights, land, and clean drinking water. There are simple things that the government could do to help out. But they’re only thinking about what can benefit themselves and not other people. We’re on their land. They should have the right to do certain things, and they shouldn’t have to ask for clean drinking water.

Andre Ali-Ridha, MD, is a 36-year-old Comprehensive Optomologist living in Toronto.

Andre Ali-Ridha

Andre Ali-Ridha, MD, is a 36-year-old comprehensive optomologist.

How do you feel about the current situation in the housing market?

It’s a disaster. In the market that we have right now, it’s clear that we’re not thinking of our future, and we’re not thinking of our children. What opportunities are we going to give the next generation to be able to afford their own house? Everybody should have fundamental rights to shelter, food, and health care. You should have the option to buy a house and own property. It’s miserable, but I feel like it’s become a business, and now the markets are really out of control. It needs to be better regulated, and we need more strict laws over it. I mean, this whole idea of flipping houses is crazy. Even the whole concept of foreign investments needs to be under tighter control.

How do you feel about the cost of living in Toronto?

The cost of living is crazy, and people are living paycheque to paycheque, trying to pay these mortgages on their homes. All of this snowballs and becomes a compound effect, and they’re left with less money each month to afford the things they need like food, clothing, entertainment. The cost of goods has gone up, and food scarcity is a big thing in Canada. Even the prices of transportation, entertainment, restaurants have gone up. It’s a big issue.

How do you feel about our relationship with the Indigenous communities?

It’s been difficult. We’ve had a rocky path this year, especially with the residential school’s information coming out. This is a huge issue. I’m not sure how the government tackled it, but there needs to be reconciliation. The government needs to respect the people with whom we share the land, defined as their land. We came here as settlers, so we don’t have a right to displace them, put them into residential schools. We have to be fully responsible and live up to the mistakes that we have made. Everybody’s accountable for their actions, so I feel that the government needs to do a better job of trying to reconcile. We can’t change the past, but we can move forward, making better promises and trying to help our Indigenous communities.

Bassam Melhem

Bassam Melhem is a 54-year-old software developer.

How do you feel about the current situation in the housing market?

It’s the free market. I follow business news, and right now, there is a lot of liquidity in the market. It’s chasing current assets. Canada is considered a safe jurisdiction thanks to the good government that we’ve had. So I think that’s the side effect. Having an economy grow is also putting more demand on our housing market. I think for sure that foreign investments are trying to find a haven in Canada. And indeed, some regulations need to be put in place.

How do you feel about the cost of living in Toronto?

It’s hard not to notice that things are getting more expensive. The prices of groceries are increasing, It’s obvious. Eating out, and even getting a haircut is more expensive. There are necessities. Keep in mind that last year, during the pandemic, things were depressed people didn’t buy items, and gas prices fell. A barrel of oil was at one point ten dollars. It would probably be more accurate to look over two years. The prices are up right now, but they say that the inflation in transitory and will go back to normal next year. I don’t know if thats true, but hopefully, it is.

How do you feel about our relationship with the Indigenous communities?

I support what our government is doing now because the relationship wasn’t excellent during the previous government six years ago. This current government is doing the right thing. They are spending a lot of money on the clean drinking water situation. It’s not an easy problem to solve in most Indigenous communities. I think the narrative has improved a lot, and they are raising awareness about the indigenous communities that have been affected. So I’m happy with what the government is doing. I think it’s needed and should continue.

Pierre Girgis is a 77-year-old Environmental Engineer living in Toronto.

Pierre Girgis

Pierre Girgis is a 77-year-old Environmental Engineer and the President of Girgis Environmental Consultants Inc.

How do you feel about the current situation in the housing market?

I believe there are illegal practices in the market that we’ve now accepted as legal practice. Such as phantom debt. An example would be taking offers on your home that is on the market for 600 thousand, and you say that you received an offer that is 200 thousand over the asking price. But who knows if this is real or not. They have to stop blind bidding. Also, another problem is allowing foreign investors to try and wash their money by buying up properties in Canada. So all of these loopholes must be closed. We cannot control the prices of what a home should cost, but the prices in the market don’t reflect accurate market prices compared to the average household income.

How do you feel about the cost of living in Toronto?

The cost of living is high, and I feel like our government doesn’t understand anything. They claim that increasing the price of oil will reduce the number of people driving, but this is Canada. Many people don’t depend on public transit to travel. Now our food which they advertise only increasing by five per cent for eggs and 10 per cent for butter, but we citizens who pay our bills notice some increases up to 100 per cent. All of this is because we are pumping money into the economy, and we don’t have enough production to absorb it; that’s why inflation happens. It’s a vicious cycle.

How do you feel about our relationship with the Indigenous communities?

I believe that all of us are equal under the Canadian charter of rights and freedoms. I think the media is trying to divide us and create social issues. We are all Canadians. All of us are equal in front of the law that governs this country. I believe this country was built on Christian values, and everyone has a right to practice their religion and culture. Our values as Christians are to love our Lord with all our hearts and to love our neighbours as we would ourselves.

About this article

Posted: Sep 19 2021 8:36 pm
Filed under: COVID-19 Features First-Timers Government News