Atlantic Canadians Increasingly Pessimistic About Their Ability To Absorb Higher Interest Rates And Cover Monthly Bills

2018-01-15   minute read

MNP Consumer Debt Index

According to a recent Ipsos poll conducted by MNP LTD., Atlantic Canadians are increasingly worried about their ability to repay their debts. Since interest rates first rose in July, households across the Atlantic provinces have noticed their budgets tightening as they struggle to keep up with expenses and manage other rising costs. Jumping seven percent since September, one-third (36%) of Atlantic Canadians now say they are unable to cover their monthly bills and debt repayments. At the same time, more than half (51%) say they are $200 or less from not being able to meet their monthly financial obligations.

Disposable income has also declined noticeably over the previous two Consumer Debt Index surveys. The average Atlantic Canadian notes a moderate reduction in money left over after bills and debt payments since September – dropping four percent over the past quarter – and a significant 30 percent drop since June. Decreasing from $808 to $592, households are now left with $566 to cover any irregular or unplanned costs. This has led more than four in ten (45%) to express concern if interest rates go up much further they may find themselves in financial trouble and one in three (31%) to worry it may move them towards bankruptcy.

While 74 percent of Atlantic Canadians resolve to be more careful with how they spend their money, four in ten (43%) still anticipate going further into debt just to cover basic expenses over the next year. This indicates many may be stuck in a dangerous debt trap. While they're heeding warnings that credit will continue to get more expensive, rising costs mean they're struggling to cover basic expenses without relying on debt to get them through.

Reflecting on their situations, almost two in five (37%) Atlantic Canadians say they are concerned about their current debt situation and 43 percent admit they regret how much debt they've taken on. Looking towards retirement, a three percent increase means almost two-thirds (60%) of Atlantic Canadians now doubt their ability to be debt free by the time they leave the workforce.

This all indicates rising debt costs are ramping up the financial pressure across the province. Atlantic Canadians are more stretched financially than they have ever been before and most lack the wiggle room needed to offset rising costs to service their debt. If big changes can't be made soon, we may be headed toward an unfortunate tipping point for many people.

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, 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 /relief among Canadians. Visit to learn more.

The latest Index data was compiled by Ipsos on behalf of MNP LTD between December 8th to December 13th, 2017. 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 third wave of the MNP Debt Index.

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