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

2023-11-27  4 minute read

Grant Bazian

MNP Consumer Debt Index

  • Half are staying home more often (51%), and a third are spending less time socializing (35%) and with friends (30%) to save money.
  • One in five are experiencing a sense of social isolation (20%) and loneliness (19%).
  • Two in five are feeling stress (42%) and anxiety (39%) due to inflation and high interest rates.
  • A third (34%) report paying more per month on debt compared to a year ago.
  • One in five (19%) don’t have a solid understanding of how interest rate increases impact their financial situation.

Canadian parliament building

CALGARY, AB – November 27, 2023 – Inflationary pressures aren’t just impacting Canadians’ personal finances but also their mental health. According to a recent Ipsos poll conducted on behalf of MNP LTD., higher costs and interest rates appear to be causing an isolation phenomenon, as half of Canadians say they’re staying home more often (51%) to save money. A third are socializing less (35%) or spending time with friends (30%). One in five are feeling a sense of social isolation (20%) or loneliness (19%) because of higher interest rates and inflation. Burdened with the constant worry of making ends meet, two in five Canadians say the current economic conditions have increased their stress (42%) and anxiety (39%).

“High inflation and interest rates are not just impacting Canadians’ finances; they are also significantly affecting their mental health. Households are feeling anxious and stressed by the pressure to manage the increased cost of necessities and mounting debt,” says Grant Bazian, President of MNP LTD, the country’s largest insolvency firm. “Canadians are retreating from social activities and forgoing time with friends and family to cut down on costs, illustrating the isolating impacts of inflation.”

A third of Canadians (34%) have reported paying more per month toward their debts compared to a year ago. About one in five Canadians (17%) are paying an additional $200 or more in monthly debt servicing costs compared to a year ago. That figure is even higher for those with annual incomes of $60K or more and those aged 35-45. Nearly half (46%) 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 has a way of isolating individuals. It’s not uncommon for those burdened by debt to withdraw from social activities and relationships out of shame or fear of judgement,” explains Bazian. “Canadians who are struggling financially need to know that help is available. Financial challenges can affect anyone, and there is no shame in seeking help. Licensed Insolvency Trustees provide unbiased guidance and support to help individuals confront their debt challenges head-on.”

Affordability anxiety, debt and a lack of financial literacy further exacerbate the financial stresses Canadians are already experiencing. One in five (19%, -1 pt) don’t feel they have a solid understanding of how interest rate increases impact their financial situation. Three in five (62%, unchanged) are concerned about the impact of rising interest rates on their financial situation, and the vast majority (83%, -3 pts) say they will be more careful with how they spend their money due to rising interest rates.

“Understanding the intricacies of personal finance and debt management is essential for making informed financial decisions, which is another reason professional advice is critical. For example, Bankruptcy is not the only recourse for those who are severely indebted. Licensed Insolvency Trustees can help advise on options like Consumer Proposals, debt consolidation, debt management plans, and budgeting.”

Canadians also feel pessimistic about their ability to cope financially with unexpected expenses. About three in 10 are not confident they could cope with the following:

  • an unexpected auto repair or purchase (28%, +1 pt)
  • a change in their relationship status, such as a divorce or separation (28%, +2 pts)
  • the death of an immediate family member (30%, -1 pt)
  • paying for their own or someone else’s education (36%, -2 pts)
  • a loss of employment or change in their wage or seasonal work (33%, +1 pt)
  • or having an illness and being unable to work for three months (30%, -1 pt)

Harassing phone calls from collection agencies can be an additional source of stress for many indebted Canadians. Bazian says a significant benefit of a Bankruptcy or Consumer Proposal is that Licensed Insolvency Trustees communicate directly with creditors on the individual’s behalf once these proceedings begin — putting 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 wait years – sometimes up to a decade – before seeking professional help with their debt. They needlessly live with the constant worry of creditors calling and wondering how they will afford basic expenses from one month to the next. These people should know they’re not alone. Help is available, and there is a path out of financial hardship.” 

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

Compared to those who rate their debt situation as excellent, Canadians who rate their personal debt as terrible are significantly more likely to feel increased stress (77%) and anxiety (72%), stay home more often (72%), and spend less time socializing (55%) or with family (33%) to save money. Younger Canadians and those with incomes of $40K or less are the most likely to spend less time socializing and with friends, resulting in increased social isolation and loneliness.


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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