MNP Consumer Debt Index dips to second-lowest level in last five years, Canadians’ current debt perception reaches all-time low

2024-01-08  3 minute read

Grant Bazian

MNP Consumer Debt Index

  • More are concerned about their ability to repay their debts (63%, +1 pt), regret the amount of debt they’ve taken on (47%, +2 pts), and are concerned about their current level of debt (47%, +1 pt). 
  • More are making only minimum payments on credit cards (26%) or on line of credit (19%) compared to 2021.
  • One in five (18%) say they took from savings, home equity, RSP, or alternative methods to pay debt or day-to-day expenses in the last year.
  • Canadians say their financial situation is taking a toll on their mental health, causing them anxiety (60%), stress (59%), isolation (48%), or embarrassment (40%). 

A snow-covered red maple leaf

CALGARY, AB – January 8, 2024 – Canadians’ current debt perception has reached an all-time low as the latest MNP Consumer Debt Index drops to 83 points — a decrease of three points from the last quarter. This marks the second-lowest level in five years as the impact of inflation and higher interest rates leaves Canadians feeling pessimistic about their current debt situation. More this quarter perceive their current debt situation as much worse (22%, +2 pts) and fewer rated it better (22%, -2 pts) compared to a year ago. Looking back to five years ago, a rising proportion (28%, +3 pts) say their debt situation has worsened, and nearly three in 10 (27%, -1 pt) say it has improved. 

“Spending on credit has served as a relief mechanism for many to keep up with increasing costs, especially for lower-income Canadians. We see from the data that the burden of repaying that debt is exacerbating the growing financial strain for many households, particularly amid higher interest rates,” says Grant Bazian, president of MNP LTD, the country’s largest insolvency firm. “Most things cost more and debt repayment costs more. That leaves more Canadians feeling pessimistic about paying off debts, making ends meet, and about their financial futures.” 

More Canadians say they regret the amount of debt they’ve taken on in life (47%, +2 pts), and nearly half are concerned about their current level of debt (47%, +1 pt) compared to last quarter. Three in five agree they are concerned about their ability to repay their debts (63%, +1 pt). Interest rates likely contribute to this concern as Canadians continue to feel negatively about their ability to absorb interest rate increases. Nearly three in 10 (27%, -1 pt) say their ability to deal with an increase of one percentage point has worsened. A fifth (22%, -1 pt) 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 (36%, -1 pt) say their ability to absorb this increase is much worse, while a fifth (19%, unchanged) say it has improved.  

“With the cost of living on the rise, households that were already overextended may feel they have to take on more debt just to afford necessities. The results can be disastrous because they end up trying to fill a hole by digging another one,” says Bazian. 

One in five (18%) Canadians 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, the number of Canadians opting to make only the minimum payments on their debts has jumped over the past two years. A quarter (26%) say they have made only the minimum payments towards the balance on their credit card, up five points since 2021. A fifth (19%) report making only the minimum payments on their line of credit, an increase of eight points compared to 2021. About one in five (18%) indicate they borrowed money they can’t afford to pay back quickly, up seven points since 2021. 

“Canadians are facing the added pressure of holiday bills coming due and mortgage renewals approaching as costs continue to increase. Many could be approaching a crisis point both mentally and financially,” says Bazian. 

The survey also underscores the impact of finances on Canadians’ mental health, with three in five indicating their financial situation causes them anxiety (60%) and stress (59%). Half say their financial situation causes them to feel a greater sense of isolation (48%), and two in five state they are embarrassed by the amount of debt they owe (40%). One in three (35%) admit to hiding their credit card debt from friends and family.

“At some point, many realize there is no clear path to repay what they have borrowed, no matter the time horizon or interest rate. This can often be an extremely isolating, stressful, and sometimes embarrassing experience,” explains Bazian. 

He 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 comfort and preparedness are key aspects of an individual’s overall well-being. Those in financial distress should seek help, the same way anyone experiencing a health crisis would seek help,” says Bazian. 

MNP’s national team of Licensed Insolvency Trustees offers free consultations to help severely indebted Canadians 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 been needlessly struggling with debt for years or even decades by the time they arrive in our offices for help,” Bazian explains. “A Consumer Proposal or Bankruptcy may be a necessary step for some, but others simply need reputable advice to develop a budget and a plan to deal with their debt. Everyone’s situation is different, which is why it is so important to get personalized, unbiased 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.

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