The high cost of living and the difficulty it’s causing Winnipeg youth is a problem candidates have many ideas on how to fix, but few concrete plans.
Mayoral hopefuls Brian Bowman, Michel Fillion, Paula Havixbeck, Robert-Falcon Ouellette, David Sanders and Judy Wasylycia-Leis attended the Winnipeg Foundation’s Youth Vital Signs Mayoral Forum on Thursday night to discuss issues and concerns affecting Winnipeg’s students and young adults. Gord Steeves was absent.
“The dissonance between the circumstances that my generation grew up in, and how different they are for our students and youth…I’m trying to understand that in context,” said Leslie Weir, Director of Family Philanthropy at The Winnipeg Foundation. “I’m interested in the perspective of the research that the foundation itself has done, and giving youth the voice that sometimes they probably feel aren’t being heard.”
One of the concerns highlighted in the Youth Vital Signs report is high cost of living in relation to Winnipeg youth being able to achieve independence.
“When we increase taxes at a faster rate than people’s wages go up, we squeeze them out of their homes,” Havixbeck said, “I will continue to lobby to the Provincial government to put a cap on some of the rental rate increases…but one of the biggest things we can do at city hall is create opportunities for home ownership.”
Havixbeck also condemned the city for having no infill strategy in place for inner city areas, stating it should be a top priority.
Ouellette acknowledged the drastic change of the housing market verses the changes in wage.
“I remember when I first bought my house when I was 23-years-old, I bought it for $80,000 and today that house is worth $250,000. My wages were about $43,000 a year as a corporal in the military and today that wage would be around $51,000,” said Ouellette. “The wages haven’t kept up pace with the cost of housing.”
Bowman and Sanders both discussed the insufficient incomes affecting Winnipeg’s youth as well as other demographics in the city. Sanders was disturbed by the amount of Winnipeggers who live in poverty even though they are employed, while Bowman said that we need to create higher paying jobs and promote economic growth.
“The working poor, they are working two or three jobs just to make ends meet.
That is not acceptable in our society,” Bowman said.
All photos by James Turner
Click here to see the series of CNC articles by Red River College Creative Communications students who covered the Youth Vital Signs Mayoral Forum.