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A recent Ipsos poll conducted by MNP LTD. shows Ontario residents are growing confident about their debt. Notably, nearly two-thirds (62%) say they’re more optimistic than they were four months ago. This follows nearly three in ten (27%) who believe their debt situation is better than it was at this time last year and almost two in five (36%) who claim their debt situation is the best it’s been in the last five years. A comfortable majority of Ontarians (59%) now anticipate they can afford all living and family expenses over the next year without requiring credit to fill in the gaps – a two percent increase since March.
Despite these improvements, however, Ontarians continue to feel weary of what potential interest rate increases could mean for their bottom line. More than two in five (45%) say subsequent increases could place them in financial jeopardy – a three percent increase – while nearly three in ten (28%) continue to worry any interest rate hike could push them toward bankruptcy, a modest one percent improvement.
One should applaud this cautious optimism, as it falls squarely in line with the current state of affairs. Dropping three percent since March, more than a quarter (25%) of Ontarians still have zero wiggle room at the end of each month. And though its been on a steady decline since December of 2017, a one percent drop means 45% remain within $200 of financial insolvency. Things are getting better, but there is still a long way to go.
It may also be beneficial to look at what factors are driving the recent upward trend. A Stats Canada report released in June noted the household debt ratio experienced the largest drop on record in the first four months of 2018. Many suggest new mortgage rules and higher interest rates have played a significant role. But our survey also reveals Ontarians are taking initiative to curb their existing debt.
More than half of households (51%) have cut back on variable expenses, such as dining out and entertainment, and more than two in five (43%) have committed to maintaining a strict budget. Nearly three in ten (28%) have found ways to reduce their fixed expenses (e.g. housing, car payments), while a quarter (27%) have focused on downsizing their possessions and one in ten (12%) have taken on a second job.
That people are adjusting spending habits is encouraging. But it’s also concerning to see that only seven percent of Ontario residents have sought out professional debt help. Especially for those who are already struggling to make ends meet, incremental changes may not be enough to gain the financial fresh start they need. The sooner these people speak with someone, the sooner they can have peace of mind.
MNP LTD, a division of MNP LLP, is the largest personal insolvency practice in Canada. For more than 50 years, our experienced team of Licensed Insolvency Trustees and advisors have been working with individuals to help them recover from times of financial distress and regain control of their finances. With more than 230 Canadian offices from coast-to-coast, MNP helps thousands of Canadians each year who are struggling with an overwhelming amount of debt. Visit www.MNPdebt.ca to contact a Licensed Insolvency Trustee or get a free checkup for your debt health using the MNP Debt Scale.
The MNP Consumer Debt Index measures Canadians’ attitudes toward their consumer debt and gauges their ability to pay their bills, endure unexpected expenses, follow a budget, and absorb interest-rate fluctuations without approaching insolvency. Conducted by Ipsos and updated quarterly, the Index is an industry-leading barometer of financial pressure or relief among Canadians. Visit www.MNPdebt.ca/CDI to learn more.
The latest Index data was compiled by Ipsos on behalf of MNP LTD between June 15 and June 19, 2018. For this survey, a sample of 2,001 Canadians from the Ipsos I-Say panel was interviewed online. The precision of online polls is measured using a credibility interval. In this case, the results are accurate to within +/- 2.5 percentage points, 19 times out of 20, of what the results would have been had all Canadian adults been polled. Credibility intervals are wider among subsets of the population. This represents the fifth wave of the MNP Consumer Debt Index.
To learn more about the survey and how MNP can help you manage your debt challenges, contact
David Gowling, CIRP, LIT, Senior Vice-President, MNP Ltd., at 905.639.3328 or
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