Seven in 10 Albertans concerned about repaying debts amid high interest rates and inflation, revealing financial strain and mental health impact

  • Albertans are the most likely to be concerned about their level of debt (50%, +2 pts) and about their ability to repay their debts (71%, +2 pts) compared to those in the other provinces.
  • Albertans are more likely than those in any other province to have made only the minimum payment on credit cards (33%). About a fifth have made only the minimum payment on line of credit (18%).
  • About one in five (21%) say they took from savings, home equity, RSP, or alternative methods to pay debt or day-to-day expenses in the last year.
  • Albertans say their financial situation is taking a toll on their mental health, causing them anxiety (59%), stress (57%), isolation (51%), or embarrassment (42%).

Snowy mountain behind a lake

CALGARY, AB – January 8, 2024 – The impact of inflation and higher interest rates is leaving Albertans feeling pessimistic about their debt, according to the latest MNP Consumer Debt Index. Significantly more Albertans say they regret the amount of debt they’ve taken on in life (50%, +6 pts) compared to last quarter. Additionally, Albertans are the most likely to be concerned about their level of debt (50%, +2 pts) and about their ability to repay their debts (71%, +2 pts) compared to those in the other provinces.

“Credit spending has been a lifeline for many Albertans grappling with rising costs. The data shows how the burden of repaying that debt is compounding the financial pressure on many households, especially amid higher interest rates,” says Donna Carson, a Licensed Insolvency Trustee with Alberta-based MNP LTD. “Most necessities cost more, and the cost of repaying debt has increased. This fosters a growing sense of concern about debt repayment and managing day-to-day expenses.”

Interest rates likely contribute to Albertans’ financial concerns as many are pessimistic about their ability to absorb further interest rate increases. Three in 10 (31%, -1 pt) say their ability to deal with an increase of one percentage point has worsened. Albertans are the least likely compared to those in the other provinces (19%, -2 pts) to say they are better equipped to absorb this increase. When this question was rephrased to ask their ability to absorb an interest rate increase of an extra $130, more than a third (37%, -1 pt) say their ability to absorb this increase is much worse, while less than one in five (17%, unchanged) say it has improved. 

However, Albertans’ current debt perception has improved since last quarter — which is likely a result of the financial management strategies some have implemented over the past year. Fewer this quarter perceive their debt situation as much worse (21%, -3 pts), and more rated it better (24%, +4 pts) compared to a year ago. Looking back to five years ago, fewer this quarter (29%, -3 pts) say their debt situation has worsened, and more (31%, +5 pts) say it has improved.

“Many households made efforts to closely manage their finances and adjust to higher interest rates over the past year, which may be leading some to feel more prepared to handle an interest rate increase. However, not everyone has made the same progress,” says Carson. “Albertans who are already stretched thin may find themselves accumulating further debt just to meet basic needs as living expenses increase. They are trying to fill a hole by digging a new one — a situation that can have a disastrous impact on their finances.”

One in five (21%) Albertans say they needed to take money from savings, home equity, RSP, or alternative methods to pay debt or day-to-day expenses in the past year. Additionally, Albertans are more likely than those in any other province (33%) to say they have only made the minimum payment towards the balance on their credit card, down six points since 2021. About one in five say they have made only the minimum payment on their line of credit (18%), an increase of two points compared to 2021. About a fifth indicate they borrowed money they can’t afford to pay back quickly (23%), up seven points since 2021.

“The culmination of holiday bills, impending mortgage renewals, and ongoing expense hikes paints a concerning picture. Many Albertans might be nearing a critical juncture, grappling with both financial and mental strain,” says Carson.

The survey also underscores the impact of finances on Albertans’ mental health, with about three in five indicating their financial situation causes them anxiety (59%) and stress (57%). Half say their financial situation causes them to feel a greater sense of isolation (51%), and two in five state they are embarrassed by the amount of debt they owe (42%). One in three (35%) admit to hiding their credit card debt from friends and family.

“At a certain point, some realize that there is no clear way to settle their debts, regardless of the timeline or interest rate. This experience can often be immensely isolating, stress-inducing, and sometimes embarrassing,” explains Carson.

She says that the shame and guilt associated with unmanageable debt often cause people to delay getting help, and many draw out the situation using credit to stay afloat. Some may face aggressive collections activity or debt relief scams — resulting in more stress and sleepless nights.

“Financial security and preparedness support a person’s overall well-being. Those facing financial turmoil should seek help, the same way someone facing a health crisis would seek help,” says Carson.

MNP’s national team of Licensed Insolvency Trustees offers free consultations to help severely indebted Albertans get unbiased debt advice, understand their rights, and determine the best path forward. Licensed Insolvency Trustees are the only federally regulated debt professionals who can assist with all the debt relief options, including Consumer Proposals and Bankruptcy, stop harassment from debt collectors, and discharge people from debt.

“Our clients have often needlessly struggled with debt for an extended period of time, sometimes spanning decades, before they seek our assistance,” Carson explains. “While a Consumer Proposal or Bankruptcy might be necessary for some, others may simply require guidance to craft a budget and a strategic plan to deal with their debt. Each person’s situation is unique, which is why it is crucial to seek tailored, impartial advice from a licensed professional.”


MNP LTD, a division of the national accounting firm MNP LLP, is the largest 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 240 offices from coast to coast, MNP helps thousands of Canadians each year who are struggling with an overwhelming amount of debt. Visit to contact a Licensed Insolvency Trustee or use our free Do-it-Yourself (DIY) debt assessment tools. For regular, bite-sized insights about debt and personal finances, subscribe to the MNP 3-Minute Debt Break Podcast.

About the MNP Consumer Debt Index

The MNP Consumer Debt Index measures Canadians’ attitudes toward their consumer debt and gauges their ability to pay their bills, endure unexpected expenses, 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.

Now in its twenty-seventh wave, the Index decreased to 83 points, down three points since last quarter. Visit to learn more.

The data was compiled by Ipsos on behalf of MNP LTD between November 28 and December 4, 2023. For this survey, a sample of 2,000 Canadians aged 18 years and over was interviewed. Weighting was then employed to balance demographics to ensure that the sample's composition reflects that of the adult population according to Census data and to provide results intended to approximate the sample universe. The precision of Ipsos online polls is measured using a credibility interval. In this case, the poll is accurate to within ±2.5 percentage points, 19 times out of 20, had all Canadian adults been polled. The credibility interval will be wider among subsets of the population. All sample surveys and polls may be subject to other sources of error, including, but not limited to, coverage error and measurement error.

Consultation icon