Albertans grapple with inflation isolation: rising costs impacting mental health, increasing loneliness, isolation, stress, and anxiety

2023-11-27  3 minute read

Donna Carson

MNP Consumer Debt Index

  • Three in five are staying home more often (59%), and about two in five are spending less time socializing (44%) and with friends (35%) to save money.  
  • Albertans are the most likely to say they are experiencing a sense of loneliness compared to the other provinces (28%), and one in five are experiencing a sense of social isolation (21%).  
  • Albertans are the most likely to feel increased stress because of inflation and high interest rates compared to the other provinces (50%). 
  • Albertans are more likely than those in any other province to report paying more per month on debt compared to a year ago (40%). 
  • One in five (21%) don’t have a solid understanding of how interest rate increases impact their financial situation. 

Scene of an Alberta lake in the early morning.

CALGARY, AB – November 27, 2023 – Inflation isn’t just affecting Albertans’ personal finances. It’s also taking a toll on their mental health. A recent Ipsos poll conducted on behalf of MNP LTD reveals higher costs and interest rates appear to be causing an isolation phenomenon, with three in five Albertans saying they are staying home more often (59%) to save money. About two in five say they’re spending less time socializing (44%) or with friends (35%) to cut spending. Compared to the other provinces, Albertans are the most likely to say they are experiencing a sense of loneliness (28%) because of higher interest rates and inflation. One in five are feeling a sense of social isolation (21%). Burdened with the constant worry of making ends meet, Albertans are also more likely than those in any other province to say that the current economic conditions have increased their stress (50%). Two in five say the conditions have made them feel more anxious (42%). 

“The impact of high inflation and interest rates extends beyond just Albertans’ finances. It’s also taking a significant toll on their mental health. The pressure of grappling with escalating costs for necessities and mounting debt is causing stress and anxiety,” says Donna Carson, a Licensed Insolvency Trustee with Alberta-based MNP LTD. “Many Albertans are withdrawing from social engagements and sacrificing time with loved ones to manage expenses, highlighting the isolating effects of inflation.” 

Albertans are more likely than those in any other province (40%) to have reported paying more per month toward their debts compared to a year ago. About one in five Albertans (19%) are paying more than an additional $200 toward their debt each month compared to a year ago. More than half (52%) don’t believe they can cover all their living and family expenses in the next 12 months without going further into debt, up a significant eight points from the previous quarter. 

“Debt has a unique way of isolating people, both on an emotional and social level. The overwhelming burden tends to create distance between us and our friends and family. Often, those wrestling with debt take a step back from social activities and relationships out of feelings of shame or fear of judgement,” explains Carson. “Financial hardships can affect anyone, and everyone should know that help is available. Licensed Insolvency Trustees offer impartial guidance and support to help individuals confront their debt challenges.” 

Affordability anxiety, debt, and a lack of financial literacy are all amplifying Albertans’ financial stress. One in five (21%, +1 pt) don’t completely understand how interest rate increases impact their financial situation. Seven in 10 (68%, +4 pts) are concerned about the impact of rising interest rates on their financial situation. The vast majority (87%, -4 pts) say they will be more careful with how they spend their money because of rising interest rates.

“Understanding the complexities of personal finance and debt management is critical for making informed financial decisions. This is another reason why seeking professional advice is vital. For instance, Bankruptcy isn’t the sole solution for individuals buried deep in debt. Licensed Insolvency Trustees can provide guidance on options including budgeting, debt management plans, debt consolidation, and Consumer Proposals.” 

Significantly more Albertans also feel pessimistic about their ability to cope financially with unexpected expenses. Compared to July, far more Albertans are not confident they could cope with the following: 

  • an unexpected auto repair or purchase (37%, +10 pts) 
  • the death of an immediate family member (39%, +7 pts) 
  • a loss of employment or change in their wage or seasonal work (39%, +8 pts) 
  • paying for their own or someone else’s education (43%, +9 pts) 

Albertans are the most likely to feel pessimistic about how an auto expense, family death, or loss of employment or wages would impact them financially compared to the other provinces. About a third are not confident they could financially cope with having an illness and being unable to work for three months (37%, +4 pts), or a change in their relationship status, such as a divorce or separation (33%, +3 pts). 

Harassing phone calls from collection agencies can be an additional source of stress for many Albertans. Upon filing a Bankruptcy or Consumer Proposal, Carson says Licensed Insolvency Trustees can communicate directly with creditors on the individual’s behalf. Both options also put a halt to wage garnishments and calls from creditors. 

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.

“People frequently delay seeking professional help for their debt, sometimes needlessly enduring constant stress and calls from creditors for up to a decade. People should realize that they’re not alone in this struggle. Help is within reach, and there is a way out of financial hardship.” 

To support those in need of financial assistance, MNP provides free consultations across the country. 

About MNP LTD 

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 Survey 

The data was compiled by Ipsos on behalf of MNP LTD between September 5 and September 8, 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. 

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