Escalating School Supply Costs Challenge Ottawa Families Ahead of New Academic Year

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Prepared with her chalk, slate, and enthusiasm, Ottawa high school student Sarah McGrath is raring for September’s return to the learning corridors. She confidently lists, “Some papers, a ruler, a calculator and eraser are already in place.” Her mother Cheryl adds, “We’ve not much left to buy this year, we’re almost sorted.”

With the advent of a new academic year around the corner, parents are wringing hands over budget planning amidst escalating costs of daily necessities such as food and lodging. Retail analyst Bruce Winder shares a pensive thought, “Parents strive for a sense of novelty for their child’s new academic start. However, the challenge at hand is significant. Consumers, while focusing on the essential purchases, are finding themselves able to buy less.”

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With economies running amok, a recent report by Deloitte posits that the price tag on school supplies has witnessed an alarming 24% rise in the last couple of years. A concerned citizen, Holly Patterson, voices her apprehension, “In the current scenario of soaring prices, meeting school supplies’ costs seems nearly impossible.”

Patterson also serves as a volunteer for the Vanier Community Service Centre, an organization that raised $700 recently, aiming to support families who cannot afford pertinent school supplies—ranging from calculators and backpacks to pencils and notebooks. However, she expresses worry over the sufficiency of the raised funds to satiate the growing demand.

Drawing from her previous experience, she observes, “Around five to seven years back, I managed to buy approximately 30 backpacks. This time, however, could muster only 12.” She laments the unfulfilled desire to procure thermoses and lunch bags due to an exhausted budget.

As academia’s annual calendar inches towards the start of a fresh year, a large fraction of parents find themselves in a tough spot, aiming to tick off as many items as they can from the school supplies list without exhausting their financial reserves.