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Pattie Lovett-Reid

Chief Financial Commentator, CTV

|Archive

As Canadians head to the polls, pocketbook issues may be taking centre stage whether you are a low-, middle- or high-income earner — and here’s why.

Big picture, Canada’s economic numbers are pretty decent, but if you ask Canadians, many feel they aren’t getting further ahead.

Despite GDP growth and declining unemployment in Canada, two-thirds of Canadians feel the deck is stacked against them, according to IPSOS Public Affairs.

My fear is the economy has held up in part due to the indebtedness of Canadians and excessive credit card use, and that simply can't continue indefinitely.

Typically, one of the key platform issues in elections is a focus on improving the economy. I get the feeling conversations are more personal right now and focused more on questions like: What’s in it for me? How will my life become more affordable over the next four years?

Job creation has been decent when you look at headline numbers, but the quality of jobs are suspect as they skew toward part-time and self-employed work.

In a perfect world, parties would look for ways to improve productivity, increase private investment, make corporate taxes more competitive and spend more on research and development — all in the hope of creating better jobs, better wages and an improved lifestyle for Canadians.

In the meantime, what we are seeing are financial incentives that are aimed at grabbing your attention.

Relief for seniors has emerged as an election issue as aging baby boomers with little savings recognize government benefits alone are not enough to fund their retirement. Incentives to stay in the workforce have been proposed to prevent boomers from retiring all at once, placing the financial burden on younger workers to fund their pensions.

Personal taxes matter because at the end of the day, the only dollar amount you really care about is what you get to keep in your pocket. The list of proposals is exhaustive: From lowering adoption taxes to tax credits for sports and fitness classes and the introduction of a luxury tax on cars, boats and personal aircraft valued at $100,000 or more, households will be looking closely to see what matters most to them.

For those dreaming of homeownership, the parties are drilling down on improving affordability, which in turn drives up demand and prices. So the supply side of the equation is equally important for the first-time homebuyer.

This election feels very personal, and rather than focusing on the big picture I believe Canadians will be asking themselves: Will I be better off four years from now?