Financial struggles a harsh reality for nearly a third of Canadians

Jul 17, 2018 | News

Canadians are giving up luxuries such as going to movies due to financial restraints. (Kenneth Lu/Flickr)

Brandon Maron

Canadians are feeling the financial pressures of living comfortably above the poverty line, according to the first chapter of a two-part study from the Angus Reid Institute.

The study focuses more on lived experiences rather than looking just at income to understand how Canadians over the age of 18 feel about their financial situations. It was conducted via a self-commissioned online survey from May 28 to June 13, 2018.

ARI researchers sorted the responses of 2,542 Canadians surveyed into four groups: The Struggling (16 per cent), those On the Edge (11 per cent), those who are Recently Comfortable (36 per cent) and those who are Always Comfortable (37 per cent). Looking at these groups, more than a quarter of Canadians are experiencing some sort of financial troubles today, according to the study.

One finding that stands out is 31 per cent of Canadians feel “very stressed about money” on a regular basis, whether it’s often or all the time.

“It’s extremely stressful trying to balance being a student, having a social life and making rent,” said Jason Sebbag, a third-year economics student at Concordia University in Montreal. “Sometimes a night out or a date or a shopping trip ends up costing an entire day’s pay, but you need to live too.”

A laundromat at Queen and Sherbourne in Toronto’s Cabbagetown (Marc Falardeau/Flickr)

Many Canadians feel the same, the survey indicates, where they reported they stopped indulging in luxuries due to financial restraints. Some of these luxuries include going to movies, which 44 per cent said they have eliminated, and dinners out on special occasions, which 46 per cent said they have foregone.

While many are stressed about their current financial situations, an equal amount are concerned about their futures. The study finds that 30 per cent of Canadians are pessimistic about their personal financial situation over the next few years.

Sebbag, who works part time as a jockey at a rental car company, agrees it’s hard to save for the future.

“I’m only able to work a few shifts a week and that makes putting money away for the future nearly impossible,” he said. “My parents help me out, but I basically live paycheque-to-paycheque at this point with no plans for the future.”

The second chapter of the study, which has not yet been released, will focus on Canadians’ attitudes, their sense of empathy for those struggling and support for various policy proposals and solutions aimed at alleviating poverty in the country.