$26,000 is the average wage on PEI. Here is a very simple view of what this means as food and energy costs rise.
Let's take food and rent/mortgage off the table right away. There is no room here. These are minimum figures. No frills. No where to cut.
In fact there are further cost pressures here that the wage earner has to accept. Rents are going up 9% on PEI this year. If you were paying $500 a month as per my example here - that would be an extra $360 a year - almost a month's rent!
The basic food prices are way up and are also linked to rising energy prices.
Prices for baked goods and cereal in particular jumped 14.9 per cent, the largest increase since 1981, and fresh vegetables rose 9.2 per cent.
There is no room to absorb these increases. But on the other hand the food producer and the landlord are being squeezed too. This can only get more difficult.
So long as there is inadequate public transport and a system where we all have to "Go to work" we have to take the Car/Truck/Gas off the table for reduction as well. Energy prices are up 20% this year and are up 100% since 2004.
So what can we do? Can we do anything or fall into the abyss?
The first and only place that we can work on now is heat. The average use of oil is about 3,500 litres. Or close to $4,000 a year.
Here is the first and most effective place that we can act to make a long term difference and to start to give back power and dignity.
An average house can save up to 40% by better insulation and and by better energy management. This potential exists for every household. This would be 1,400 litres a year or at today's prices over $1,000!
So how can we do this? There are a lot of federal programs that offer financial help. The barrier to Federal Grants is to Energy Auditors and the costs of having an audit. Then the work has to be done and paid for before the grant can be paid. This is a non starter for many.
The Province has some much more easily accessible help for low income people. But in the end things have to be purchased and work done.
So to unlock this potential we have to get though the barriers of expertise and labour.
So what if we got together as a community and helped each other? What if we barn built this reduction in our use of heating energy?
It's our only chance I think of staring to become more resilient locally.
I hope to be able to say more about this shortly. I hope to be able to say more about doing this work rather than merely suggesting that it might be useful.
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