Half of Canadians worse off financially than a year ago: Angus Reid poll

Only one in five respondents expect their money situation to improve over the next 12 months

·3 min read
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A new Angus Reid poll finds roughly half of Canadians say their financial situation has worsened compared to last year.

A new poll is painting a bleak picture about Canadians' finances after suffering through the biggest inflation surge since the 80s — and what's worse is many don't expect their situation to improve any time soon.

Nearly half of Canadians (47 per cent) say they are in worse financial shape compared to a year ago, according to a new Angus Reid survey. It's among the worst level in the polling firm's records dating back to 2010.

Only one in five respondents expect their finances to improve over the next 12 months.

Rarely is financial pessimism so highAngus Reid survey findings

Notably, residents in Saskatchewan were most likely to report that their financial situation deteriorated over the past year and had the most pessimistic outlook for any improvements on the horizon.

The findings come as persistent inflation and declining housing affordability continue to hammer Canadians' budgets, and any relief has been difficult to come by.

The consensus estimate among economists surveyed by Bloomberg expects inflation eased to 5.4 per cent on an annualized basis in February, from 5.9 per cent the month prior. But that's still much higher than the Bank of Canada's ideal two per cent target. Not to mention, food prices have consistently outpaced the overall inflation rate.

"For Canadians in poor financial straits, there is one issue above all else that they feel is the top one facing the country: inflation," Angus Reid said.

Only 15 per cent of respondents say they are better off financially from a year ago, and one-third (36 per cent) say they are just "treading water."

"Over time, financial optimism is always a minority opinion among Canadians. However, rarely is financial pessimism so high," the survey said.

Inflation is top priority for Canadians in federal budget

Finance Minister Chrystia Freeland is facing a delicate balancing act in her upcoming federal budget, which will be released on March 28.

Freeland says the budget will focus on affordability measures and healthcare spending, among other items, but increased government spending also threatens to fan the flames of inflation, potentially prolonging the need for elevated interest rates.

Angus Reid found six in 10 respondents saying inflation is the number one challenge facing the country right now, followed by healthcare.

"The proportion who select inflation as a top issue is much higher – 69 per cent – among those who offer poor assessments of their finances and are pessimistic about their future," the survey said.

Twenty-seven per cent say housing affordability was the top issue in the country.

Angus Reid polled a randomized sample of 4,889 Canadian adults online between March 6 and 13. The survey has a margin of error of +/-1 percentage points, 19 times out of 20.

Michelle Zadikian is a senior reporter at Yahoo Finance Canada. Follow her on Twitter @m_zadikian.

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