Four in 10 Manitoba and Saskatchewan residents doubtful they can cover living expenses this year without going further into debt, most since December 2019

2021-07-19   minute read

Tanya Reynolds

MNP Consumer Debt Index

  • Three in 10 say the pandemic has worsened their debt (25%) or created a larger debt burden for either themselves or their family (33%).
  • Four in 10 (37%) homeowners report being house poor.
  • Half (50%, +2pts) say they’re more concerned about their ability to repay their debts than they used to be.

Night view of Downtown Winnipeg

WINNIPEG, MB – July 19, 2021 – The latest MNP Consumer Debt Index finds the number of Manitoba and Saskatchewan residents who are concerned they can’t make ends meet without going further into debt sits at the highest level since December 2019. The quarterly poll conducted by Ipsos on behalf of MNP LTD finds four in 10 (43%, unchanged since March) households are not confident they’ll be able to cover all living and family expenses in the next 12 months without spending on credit. In fact, the proportion of Manitoba and Saskatchewan residents who report being insolvent and unable to pay their monthly bills and debt obligations, sits at the highest level since September 2019 (31%, unchanged). Half (50%, +2pts) say they are more concerned about their ability to repay their debts than they used to be.

“Financial damage from the pandemic will likely linger for years. Many will have to deal with the new debts they’ve accumulated, even after they return to the workforce,” says Tanya Reynolds, a Licensed Insolvency Trustee with MNP LTD in Winnipeg. “Those who went into lockdown already deeply indebted and then experienced prolonged financial disruptions are vulnerable right now.”

Homeowners with an outstanding mortgage may be at particular risk. Four in ten (37%) Manitoba and Saskatchewan residents who own a home say they are house poor, the most compared to the other provinces. All told, approximately 500,000 homeowners in Manitoba and Saskatchewan don’t have much left over after paying bills related to their home. Perhaps it is therefore not surprising two in 10 (20%) homeowners say they regret the amount of debt they took on to buy their home.

The survey found about three in 10 Manitoba and Saskatchewan residents feel the pandemic worsened their debt (25%) or created a larger debt burden for either themselves or their family (33%). Part of the reason may be that six in ten (59%, -5pts) say they’ve taken advantage of low interest rates during the pandemic to make purchases that wouldn’t normally fit within their budget. While the majority (68%) report they reduced their spending during the pandemic, how much of this was by choice and how much was by necessity is not yet clear.

“Even those who didn’t lose a job due to COVID may have made cautionary adjustments to their household budgets or changed their spending habits. As life slowly gets back to normal, the money management behaviours influenced during the pandemic can help individuals positively reshape their financial futures. Spend less, save more, and make emergency funds a priority,” advises Reynolds.

Manitoba and Saskatchewan households report having the least money left over compared to the other provinces ($589, -$45). They are also the least likely (24%) to say they plan to spend more than they normal  on things such as travel, dining, and entertainment as they re-engage with the economy.

With lingering pandemic-related uncertainty and the potential for interest rate increases in the future, four in 10 (41%, -1pt) are concerned they will be in financial trouble if interest rates go up much more. Three in 10 (30%, -4pts) would even go so far as to say they are concerned rising interest rates could drive them towards Bankruptcy.

“Those already feeling overwhelmed by their debt should seek professional debt advice as the first step to getting their finances back on track,” says Reynolds. “Everyone’s situation is different, which why it is important for anyone struggling to get individualized advice from a Licensed Insolvency Trustee. We are the only federally regulated debt-relief professionals who can offer the full range of debt-relief options. Consultations are free and our advice is unbiased.”

On a positive note, not everyone in the province is emerging post-pandemic struggling financially. The survey found about half (47%) of Manitoba and Saskatchewan residents feel their debt situation is better now than it was before the pandemic started, and four in 10 (42%, -2pts) are more relaxed about carrying debt than they usual.


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 seventeenth wave, the Index currently stands at 97 points, up one point compared to the last wave conducted in March 2021. Visit to learn more.

The latest data, representing the seventeenth wave of the MNP Consumer Debt Index, was compiled by Ipsos on behalf of MNP LTD between June 14-17, 2021. For this survey, a sample of 2,002 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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