FIRST PERSON | I’m supposed to be embracing a post-pandemic normal, but that ‘normal’ doesn’t exist anymore | CBC News

This First Person article is written by Danielle White, a visual artist and designer from the Prairies who now calls P.E.I. home. For more information about First Person stories, see the FAQ.

Nothing feels simple or easy anymore. From the rising cost of food to skyrocketing gas prices and a housing crisis that keeps getting worse, it feels like life got hard when COVID hit back in 2020 — and it hasn’t gotten any easier.

I’m stuck. I don’t see any solutions. And I know I’m not alone.

It was probably food prices that caught my attention first and where I’ve felt the biggest squeeze. Many non-essentials are now off the menu.

The increase in the cost of gas hurt, but the rapid rise in the price of furnace oil hurt even more. Like many Islanders, my partner and I rely on furnace oil to heat our house. This winter we found ourselves grappling with tough choices to help keep that cost down. We ramped up the use of our wood stove and we found ourselves trying to make the gas in our tank last enough for prices to drop just a little before our next fill.

Sure, we could improve the insulation in our old farmhouse or switch to another heating source, but renovations take time and money — and prices went up too fast to get ahead of it. Now, any money we might have spent on renovations has already been spent just to get by.

Everything really is getting harder

I know I’m not imagining this, and I know the data backs me up.

P.E.I.’s inflation rate was among the highest in the country, and has been for years — driven in large part by the price of food and rent.

The cost to rent has continued to rise and the rental vacancy rate sits around 0.8 per cent.

Not a single decision has been easy lately. I have an increasing inability to make good choices, and the choices available to me are dwindling every day.– Danielle White

My partner and I are lucky enough to own our own home, but with the price of a detached house hitting well above $360,000, that’s getting further out of reach for more people every day.

Oh, and mortgage lending rates are on the rise, too.

Moving somewhere more affordable is not the solution it used to be, either.

Between political turmoil, the collapse of health-care systems across the country, wage stagnation, housing crises, climate change and the cost-of-living crisis, every single province and territory is facing problems of its own. So where would I go, even if I had the disposable income it takes to make such a move?

The death of options

Lately, not a single decision has been easy. I have an increasing inability to make good choices when the options available to me are dwindling every day.

Some days (most days, if I’m honest), it feels like no one else will acknowledge it. I’m supposed to be “getting back to normal” now that we’ve collectively decided the pandemic is over, but our normal has vanished.

I’m stuck and scared. Betrayed and feel gaslit.

But I refuse to become apathetic.

It’s easy to stop caring about the plight of others while I’m living in dread of the next bill or the next month’s rent being due. I can feel my interest in civic and political involvement wane when it’s already taking so much just to survive.

But I know I’m not alone. And if you’re feeling these things, I want you to know that you aren’t alone, either. I believe our best hope is sticking together and pushing our elected officials to make the changes that will help get us out of this mess.

I believe that’s the only acceptable option.


Interested in writing a First Person piece for CBC P.E.I.?

We’re looking for submissions from Islanders, or those with a strong connection to the Island, who have a compelling personal narrative or want to share their take on an issue affecting their community. You don’t have to be a professional writer — first-time contributors are always welcome.

Email us your story at pitchpei@cbc.ca. For more information on First Person submissions see our FAQ.

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