Newcomer to a country struggling with inflation

Inflation has reached a record high in Canada. Behind the figures, there are humans who suffer the consequences. But not everyone is equal in the face of the rising cost of living. Fifth portrait in a series on the faces of inflation.

At the cafeteria of the William-Hingston community center in the Parc-Extension district of Montreal, some twenty immigrants, mostly from India, rush to their appointments to get baskets of fruits and vegetables, non-perishable food, dairy products and hygienic care valued at $150.

The majority of them are asylum seekers looking for a better future for their children. They live on their small savings and sometimes on social assistance, having not yet obtained a work permit. Faced with the rising cost of living, this food aid is essential to feed their families.

With a round and gentle face, a melancholy smile, a reserved attitude, Barinder Kaur approaches them to talk to them. Since she speaks three Indian languages, the 30-year-old was hired to facilitate communication with the organization Ressource Action-Alimentation.

“It’s my first job in Canada”, proudly declares the one who has been learning English for a year and who is now understood very well in the language of Shakespeare. She herself benefited from the services of this organization before being employed there.

Originally from Punjab, a state in northern India, the young woman fled a situation of domestic violence in 2019, when she was pregnant with a little girl. She was housed for several months in the Maison Dalauze women’s shelter in Montreal, where she says she was very well received. She then wanted to integrate into Parc-Extension, a dynamic neighborhood for its cultural community.

To make ends meet, she has to share a modest two-bedroom apartment with another single mother she has taken under her wing. Cohabitation is not always easy between the two women, who each sleep in the same room as their child.

This year, his landlord wants to impose a $30 increase on their $900 rent. “It’s a lot,” worries the one who was previously a university professor in the social sciences. This is why she is currently fighting at the Administrative Housing Tribunal to avoid the increase. Since she has a job, the soft-spoken young mother says she deprives herself less than before. But she is horrified to watch the price of food that she and her daughter eat a lot increase. The pint of milk suffered an annual increase of 6.7% in April, yogurt, 8.4%, dried lentils, 15%, wheat flour, 11.8%. Traditional Indian products are particularly expensive, she notes.

far from his parents

After groceries, daycare, diapers, electricity, Internet, telephone, clothing, public transport, medication and hygiene products, another expense is very important to him. The one who obtained refugee status insists on regularly sending money to her father and mother, who remained in India and whom she misses a lot.

“I can’t go back because I won’t be safe. My father suffers a lot from my absence and he is sick, so he cannot work,” she confides, bursting into tears.

She ardently wishes to sponsor them to settle in Canada, but “she has to work very hard” for that. She tightens her belt as much as possible to save some money. “I have to show Immigration that I have enough money to house and feed my parents,” she says. She does not believe that they could obtain a visitor’s visa to Canada given their financial precariousness.

A distant goal

While her expenses are set to increase with inflation, she fears that her goal will take a long time to reach. According to Statistics Canada’s calculator, his annual personal inflation rate hit 3.4% in April.

An exacerbated fragility

According to the director of Ressource Action-Alimentation, Monique Léger, inflation is aggravating the situation of many asylum seekers, who already have difficulty paying for their basic needs. Many of them spend more than 50% of their income on rent, she says.

“People have difficulty cooking healthy meals, and it is detrimental to their health,” notes Light. Desperate to earn extra income and regularize their status, they are at risk of being exploited by malicious individuals, she observes.

Mme Kaur eats her fill. But there is no question for the moment of paying for entertainment for herself, and very little for her child. “I would like to go to La Ronde. One day, I will go, ”she assures.

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