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

2023-11-27  3 minute read

Linda Paul

MNP Consumer Debt Index

  • Half are staying home more often (50%), and a third are spending less time socializing (36%) and with friends (32%) to save money.  
  • One in five are experiencing a sense of social isolation (21%) or loneliness (17%).  
  • About two in five are feeling stress (46%) and anxiety (38%) due to inflation and high interest rates.  
  • British Columbians are more likely than any other province to say they are paying more than $200 in additional debt payments each month compared to a year ago (20%).  
  • One in five (19%) don’t have a solid understanding of how interest rate increases impact their financial situation. 

Snowy bridge in the BC forest.

VANCOUVER, BC – November 27, 2023 – Inflation isn’t just affecting British Columbians’ personal finances. It’s also taking a toll on their mental health. A recent Ipsos poll conducted on behalf of MNP LTD reveals that higher costs and interest rates appear to be causing an isolation phenomenon, with half of British Columbians saying they’re staying home more often (50%) to save money. A third say they’re spending less time socializing (36%) or with friends (32%) to cut spending. One in five are feeling a sense of social isolation (21%) or loneliness (17%) because of higher interest rates and inflation. Burdened with the constant worry of making ends meet, about two in five British Columbians say that the current economic conditions have increased their stress (46%) and anxiety (38%). 

“The impacts of elevated inflation and interest rates extend beyond British Columbians’ financial well-being. It’s significantly affecting their mental health as well,” says Linda Paul, a Licensed Insolvency Trustee with MNP LTD in the Lower Mainland. “The pressure to navigate the increased cost of essentials and growing debt is causing anxiety and stress. People are scaling back on social activities and time with loved ones to cope financially. This underscores the isolating impacts of inflation.” 

Three in 10 British Columbians (31%) say their monthly debt payments have increased compared to a year ago. British Columbians are more likely than those in any other province (20%) to say they are paying more than an additional $200 toward their debt each month compared to a year ago. Nearly half (45%) don’t believe they can cover all their living and family expenses in the next 12 months without going further into debt, up two points from the previous quarter. 

“Debt can often isolate people, both emotionally and socially. The overwhelming burden tends to distance us from friends and family,” explains Paul. “We often see individuals grappling with debt withdraw from social activities and relationships due to a fear of judgement or shame. Financial struggles can impact anyone, and everyone should know that help is available. Licensed Insolvency Trustees offer impartial guidance and support to help individuals tackle their debt challenges.” 

Affordability anxiety, debt, and a lack of financial literacy are all amplifying British Columbians’ financial stress. One in five (19%, -3 pts) don’t completely understand how interest rate increases impact their financial situation. Three in five (59%, -3 pts) are concerned about the impact of rising interest rates on their financial situation. While the vast majority (77%, -9 pts) say they will be more careful with how they spend their money because of rising interest rates, surprisingly fewer this quarter agree they will be more careful with their spending. 

“Understanding the intricacies of personal finance and debt management is vital for making well-informed financial decisions. This underscores the importance of seeking professional advice,” says Paul. “Bankruptcy isn’t the only option for people who are deeply in debt. Licensed Insolvency Trustees can provide guidance on options such as debt consolidation, debt management plans, budgeting, and Consumer Proposals.” 

The potential for unexpected expenses also has British Columbians feeling pessimistic. About three in 10 are not confident they could cope with the following: 

  • a change in their relationship status, such as a divorce or separation (33%, +7 pts) 
  • a loss of employment or change in their wage or seasonal work (30%, -3 pts) 
  • paying for their own or someone else’s education (35%, -3 pts)

Additionally, about a quarter are not confident they could financially cope with an unexpected auto repair or purchase (24%, -2 pts), having an illness and being unable to work for three months (24%, -3 pts), or the death of an immediate family member (25%, -5 pts).

Harassing phone calls from collection agencies can be an additional source of stress for many British Columbians. Upon filing a Bankruptcy or Consumer Proposal, Paul 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.

“Individuals often postpone seeking professional assistance for their debt for up to a decade. All that does is cause needless stress trying to make ends meet and manage calls from creditors,” says Paul. “People should know they’re not alone. Help is available, and there’s always a way to navigate 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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