Debt outlook bleak in Newfoundland; significantly more Atlantic Canada households anticipate struggling with further interest rate increases

2023-10-18  3 minute read

Greg Gosse

MNP Consumer Debt Index

  • Nearly four in five are concerned about their ability to pay their debts (77%, +10 pts), the largest proportion among the provinces.
  • Significantly more Atlantic Canadians report a decline in their capacity to handle an interest rate increase (35%, +12 pts) or an additional $130 in interest payments (46%, +16 pts) — both proportions are the largest among the provinces.
  • Atlantic Canadians are more likely than any other region (61%, +8 pts) to report that they are $200 away or less from not being able to meet all their financial obligations at month-end.
  • About two in five (38%, +7 pts) say they don’t make enough to cover their bills and debt payments, the largest proportion among the provinces.
  • Atlantic Canadians have the lowest average amount of money left over at the end of the month ($493, -$166) compared to the other provinces.

Coast of Newfoundland

ST. JOHN’S, NL– October 18, 2023 – From near zero to the highest interest rates in more than two decades, the latest MNP Consumer Debt Index finds significantly more Atlantic Canadians anticipate struggling with further rate hikes. Atlantic Canadians are the most likely (46%) compared to the other provinces to say their ability to absorb an additional $130 in interest payments on debt is much worse. The staggering 16-point increase since last quarter was also the largest jump amongst the provinces. Atlantic Canadians are also the most likely (35%, +12 pts) to say they’re in a worse position to absorb an interest rate increase of one percentage point.

“The spike in concern about continued interest rate hikes underscores how stretched household budgets are right now,” says Greg Gosse, a local Licensed Insolvency Trustee with MNP LTD. “With increasing debt carrying costs and a soaring cost of living, the bleak outlook shows just how hard it’s becoming for Atlantic Canadian households to make ends meet.”

Atlantic Canadians are also more likely than any other province (61%, +8 pts) to say they’re $200 away or less from being unable to meet all their financial obligations. Theirs was also the largest quarterly increase among all provinces. About two in five (38%, +7 pts) say they don’t make enough to cover their bills and debt payments, also the highest proportion amongst the provinces. The average Atlantic Canadian resident now has $493 left over at the end of the month after paying all essential bills and debts. That figure is down $166 compared to four months ago, as the surging cost of living has chipped away at household budgets.

“The financial pressure continues to build for those already in the red. The danger of relying on credit to meet basic household needs has become a real risk. Households may use credit to make ends meet, reasoning they will be able to pay it off as soon as their circumstances improve. They will use credit to pay for one bill. Then another. Then, they start to miss payments. And that’s how people end up on a high-interest debt treadmill,” explains Gosse.

Nearly four in five Atlantic Canadians are concerned about their ability to repay their debts (77%, +10 pts), the largest proportion amongst the provinces. About four in five are concerned about being in financial trouble (76%, +11 pts), also a significant leap from the previous quarter.

Still, a few bright spots have emerged in the data. Atlantic Canadians feel marginally better about the possibility that rising interest rates could drive them toward Bankruptcy (51%, -3 pts). Half say they regret (50%, -7 pts) their debt. The reduction in debt regret is potentially a sign that Atlantic Canadians are adjusting somewhat to the higher interest rate environment. However, levels remain higher than in other provinces.

“Stress and anxiety brought on by debt lead many to believe things that simply aren’t true: that they are a failure, that they are in this alone, or that they can never be debt-free. But there is help available,” says Gosse.

“My advice to anyone struggling is not to be too tough on yourself. Take the first step right now and seek professional debt advice. Anyone who anticipates missing bill payments should contact their lenders to see if they can set up a payment plan, then seek advice from a Licensed Insolvency Trustee.”

Licensed Insolvency Trustees are the only federally regulated debt professionals who can assist with all the debt relief options — including Consumer Proposals and Bankruptcies, which immediately stop harassment from debt collectors — and discharge people from debt. MNP provides free consultations across the country.

Atlantic Canadians are the most likely among the provinces to believe their debt situation will be worse a year from now (22%, + 8 pts). They are also the most likely to believe that their debt situation will worsen over the next five years (22%, +8 pts) and the least likely to believe it will improve (28%, -9 pts) over the same timeframe — making Atlantic Canadians the most pessimistic among all other provinces.


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 who are struggling with overwhelming debt each year. 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-sixth wave, the Index increased to 86 points, up 3 points since last quarter, but remains below the five-year average. Visit to learn more.

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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