As inflation rates reach their highest level in Canada in forty years, nearly half of Canadians say their financial situation is worse now than this time last year.
Another third say they expect things to get even worse in the coming year, the highest number of people to answer this way in more than a decade.
The figures come from a new Angus Reid Institute (ARI) poll released on Friday, which surveyed more than 5,000 Canadian adults between June 7 and June 13 about their financial situation and difficulties.
The results highlight the difficult situation facing Canadians from coast to coast.
Currently, inflation is 7.7% higher than last year, according to Statistics Canada. The inflation rate has not been this high since 1983, when Canada Day replaced Dominion Day.
The percentage of Canadians who say they are worse off financially than a year ago has risen steadily over the past few years. In 2018, only 29% of Canadians said they were doing worse than the year before. This number increased to 32% in the first quarter of 2020, then to 45% in the second quarter of 2022.
This is now the highest since ARI started tracking this specific issue in 2010.
At the same time, the number of Canadians who reported doing the same thing as a year ago fell from 54% in 2018 to 44% in 2020 and 36% in the second quarter of 2022.
Interestingly, the percentage of Canadians who say they are doing better than the previous year rose to 23% in 2020, after hovering around 13-14% for years. This figure is now 17%.
When these results are broken down by respondents’ household income, those in the higher income brackets, earning more than $200,000 a year, were much more likely to report that they were doing better than the financially last year, at 26%. , and the least likely to say they were doing worse, at 30%.
At the other end of the scale, those earning less than $25,000 a year were more likely to say they were worse off this year, at 51%, and less likely to say they got away with it. came out better than last year, at 15% — highlighting how the rich are less affected by changes such as inflation, and the poor continue to get poorer as rising costs hit their wallets.
Only one in five Canadians said they expect things to get better within a year, while a third expect things to get even worse.
“Residents of Saskatchewan express the most pessimism and the least optimism on this issue,” the report said.
THE COST OF LIVING IS EXORBITANT FOR MANY
Concerns about the simple cost of living are what consume most Canadians’ time and energy, with food, housing and bills causing an enormous amount of financial worry across the country.
When asked what the top provincial issues were, with respondents able to choose up to three options, ‘cost of living/inflation’ was the most popular choice, with 63% of respondents selecting it as an issue major.
Health care and housing affordability take second and third place with 52% and 31% respectively, while climate change and the environment come in fourth with 26%.
“Some parts of the country are under more economic pressure than others,” the report said. “In Atlantic Canada, the cost of living was already higher than in most other parts of the country last year. New Brunswick has experienced higher inflation rates than other provinces, as have Manitoba and British Columbia. »
Looking at the country as a whole, more than half of tenants said it was difficult to pay their rent.
For homeowners, monthly mortgage payments are on the rise after a series of interest rate hikes by the Bank of Canada. A quarter of Canadians with a mortgage say prices have already gone up, while another in two say they expect prices to go up. Two-thirds say if their payments increased by $300 a month, they might not be able to afford it anymore.
“The challenge for many, as pandemic-era supports are withdrawn and some struggle to repay the CERB they have received, is avoiding the creation of debt,” the report said, noting that many Canadians are already struggling with debt.
Two in five Canadians said they have credit card debt.
Of those who scored high on the ARI Economic Stress Index and were classified as “struggling” on that index, 62% had credit card debt, and three in five of this group said that it would take them over a year to pay off.
The Economic Stress Index, created in January, looks at basic quality-of-life costs, such as household debt, housing and food costs, as well as respondents’ anxieties and assessments of their own finances. , to determine who has a harder time.
There are four categories: struggling, uncomfortable, comfortable, and thriving. The proportion of those who are “thriving” has fallen by six points since May, while the number of those who are “struggling” has increased by three points during this period. The good news is that 29% of Canadians fall into the “comfortable” category, compared to 26% in May.
“A majority in each of the Atlantic provinces falls into the Struggling or Uncomfortable categories,” the report says, with 55% in Nova Scotia and 64% in Newfoundland and Labrador falling into one of these two categories.
Across the country, in most provinces, more than half of respondents fell into one of the last two categories, with 64% in Newfoundland and Labrador, 59% in Alberta, 62% in Saskatchewan, 57% in Manitoba. , 55% in Nova Scotia and 54% in Ontario. Prince Edward Island was not included in the survey.
“Only in Quebec (61%) and British Columbia (52%) do more than half fall into the first two ISE categories,” the report says. “Notably, according to Statistics Canada’s CPI, these provinces have the per capita cost of any province in the country.
The province with the highest percentage of Canadian respondents rated “prosperous” was Quebec, at a whopping 30%.
Just over 75% of Canadians said their province had mismanaged inflation.
About one in three Canadians said their costs of buying gas had gone up, while just under half said those costs had gone down for them because they were consciously avoiding driving and looking for alternatives. other means of transport to save money.
FOOD PRICES LEAVING SOME LOVED ONES
The report notes that inflation hits some products harder than others.
“Food inflation was 10% in May, higher than the headline inflation rate of 7.7%,” the report said.
Just over half of Canadians surveyed said they struggle to pay the grocery bill each month, with the report noting that’s seven points up from last October.
And the lower your tax bracket, the harder it is to put food on the table. Seven in ten Canadians earning less than $25,000 a year said it was difficult to feed themselves and their families, while at least a third of all earners said they had trouble budgeting for the food.
A British Columbia resident told The Canadian Press that her grocery bill had more than doubled. Food Banks Canada is concerned that more and more children – who represent a third of those who rely on food banks – could go hungry this summer as school ends and access to food programs in school environment is cut off.
Earlier this month, NDP Leader Jagmeet Singh called on MPs to laugh in the House of Commons after speaking out about Canadians not being able to afford groceries. In a video posted by Singh of the incident, laughter can be heard after he said one in four Canadians are hungry.
“I just mentioned that Canadians are hungry and I hear laughter in the rooms,” Singh said after the president asked him to repeat himself. “They should be ashamed of themselves. Absolutely ashamed.” He said on social media that those laughing were Tory MPs.
TRUST IN INSTITUTIONS
Amid rising inflation, the Bank of Canada is expected to minimize the impact on Canadians through policy adjustments, but Canadians’ confidence in the institution is mixed, according to the poll. While 46% said they trust the Bank of Canada, 41% said they don’t.
When the political leanings of survey respondents were taken into account, the results became more striking: former supporters of the Conservative Party and the People’s Party of Canada were less likely to trust the Bank of Canada, with 59% and 86 % indicating this respectively.
The Bank of Canada has admitted to missteps and is now trying to catch up as the Canadian economy overheats.