Tomorrow is Election Day and I have still not come to a decision as to who or what party I will cast my vote for. Unlike past elections, held during our brief time back in Canada, there has been little in the way of outreach from party candidates, and with life being busier than the past, I’ve done little to understand their take on the issues that matter to me.
Here are the issues that seem to be pre-occupying my mind of late:
Cost of living. Coming home was in one small part an experiment, could we lead a similar middle class lifestyle that we lived abroad while enjoying a greater work-life balance. Before we left we knew that the medical system here was not comparable in access to what we were used to, but we felt otherwise the numbers worked. Recently at the behest of a friend and mentor, I more closely ran the numbers again (I dislike quant.) and discovered that our experiment has failed. At a time when we should be celebrating success, who the hell makes a living telling bedtime stories, we realize that despite having a household income far above the median, we just can’t make it. In many ways our lifestyle is a shadow of what it was – the cost of living is just too high.
Food has always been more expensive (Atlantic salmon is cheaper in Taiwan for some reason), housing costs are spiralling out of control (a house we thought of buying recently sold for double the price), services and education are multiples more expensive, and Canadian salaries like in Taiwan are depressed.
High taxation. To make matters worse we pay 6-7x the effective tax rate we were paying before and for what (where is the accountability)? PEI doesn’t have true universal health care, you have to pay for dental, eye exams, audiology and for any medications you might need. I have no idea if mental health is covered or where one would go to access that. If you try to look after your physical self, you have to pay for that too – physiotherapy is a thriving business on the Island.
I had this misplaced conception that by returning to Canada we would have access to greater social services, more security, and thus more peace of mind. What the pandemic has taught us is that this is far from the truth. We must be as self-reliant as in the past (in Asia we had no assistance available for anything), which is fine, but again, what do we pay such a high tax rate for.
Universal healthcare. What good is having great doctors if you can’t access medical services? Camren has an ingrown toenail, a minor problem, but one that has a dramatic effect on his quality of life. Competitive athletics are best performed without a swollen infected toe. He’s been told its a 3 month wait for a procedure that we could have been taken care of immediately by walking into any hospital in the past. I had been experiencing an irregular heart beat, was concerned and started my journey at a walk-in clinic. It took me over 6 months to get the prognosis that “if anything bad was going happen it would have happened by now.”
What is frustrating is that while you have to pay for some services, you aren’t allowed to pay for others. I would like more data as to why I have decreased energy levels and if there might be circulatory problems in my left leg. I can’t pay for blood work or get scans from a private clinic and the system here only starts to work when problems get chronic and then you begin the well known long wait.
Before I left the Island for education and work, I was raised by my mother alone on the modest salary she received. We lived in a 3 bedroom duplex, she drove a nice car, I was dressed in nice clothes, and I had regular visits to the doctor. We ate well. Sometimes it was tight, but I didn’t notice any difference between our family and those of what might have been my better off classmates. It would be impossible to have a similar life style today on a single salary. I don’t think it’s an exaggeration to say, under similar circumstances, you would be food insecure and perhaps at risk of being homeless.
At present, I have no idea which person and party can best represent my concerns. And honestly, I have little faith any will make much progress. Lawrence Macaulay would seem the most qualified, but I’m not sure he has ever stepped foot in Stratford, let alone gone door to door talking to constituents. The Green party’s focus on climate is something I can get behind, but when your boat is already sinking, it’s hard to focus on rising sea levels.
I have about 12 hours before I plan to vote.