Canadian household budgets stretched thin as inflation, interest rates rise: Survey

CALGARY — A new poll indicates Canadians are making increasingly tough budget decisions amid rising interest rates and inflation.

The MNP Ltd. survey, conducted by Ipsos in early June, suggests over a quarter of Canadians are cutting back on essentials like food, housing and utilities.

The poll found nearly half of respondents are reining in non-essential spending on outings like travelling, dining out and entertainment.

About a third of those surveyed also reported buying cheaper versions of everyday items and driving less to save on fuel costs.

The findings suggest Canadians are making difficult choices as higher costs weigh on household budgets.

Grant Bazian, president of insolvency firm MNP, says Canadians are trying to adjust their budgets and cut costs where possible to keep up with their monthly bills.

But he warns that it’s likely to get worse before it gets better as the cost of living continues to rise.

“Households will have to make increasingly difficult choices about what to cut, and could find themselves piling on debt to make ends meet,” Bazian said in a statement Monday.

Half of the survey’s respondents said if interest rates go up much more they will be in financial trouble, with four in 10 saying higher rates could drive them closer to bankruptcy.

Economists are predicting the Bank of Canada will hike its key interest rate by three-quarters of a percentage point on Wednesday as inflation rages on globally.

The central bank raised its key interest rate by half a percentage point on June 1, bringing it to 1.5 per cent. Since then, it has signalled a willingness to move in a more aggressive direction.

“With inflation nearing a 40-year high, there is mounting pressure for more aggressive interest rate hikes to tame inflation,” Bazian said.

“Canadians who are not financially prepared to absorb future interest rate increases are likely to find themselves in financial trouble.”

The online survey of 2,000 Canadians was conducted from June 6 to 9.

The polling industry’s professional body, the Canadian Research Insights Council, says online surveys cannot be assigned a margin of error because they do not randomly sample the population.

This report by The Canadian Press was first published July 11, 2022.

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