Ontarians have less money left over at month-end as surging cost of living chips away at household budgets

2023-10-18  3 minute read

Caryl Newbery-Mitchell

MNP Consumer Debt Index

  • The average amount of money that Ontarians say they have left over at the end of the month dropped this quarter to $667, down $102 from the previous quarter.
  • More than half (53%, -1 pt) report that they are $200 away or less from not being able to meet all their financial obligations.
  • More than a third report a decline in their capacity to handle an additional $130 in interest payments on debt (37%, unchanged).

TORONTO, ON – October 18, 2023  Ontarians have less left in their wallets this quarter as the surging cost of living has chipped away at household budgets, according to the latest MNP Consumer Debt Index. The average amount of money that Ontarians say they have left over at the end of the month dropped to $667, down $102 from the previous quarter. At the same time, more than half (53%, -1 pt) in the province report that they are $200 away or less from not being able to meet all their financial obligations, remaining stable since last quarter.

“Increasing debt carrying costs and living expenses has many household budgets stretched thin,” says Caryl Newbery-Mitchell, a Licensed Insolvency Trustee with MNP LTD in Toronto. “It’s getting increasingly difficult for Ontarians to make ends meet.”

Many Ontarians anticipate struggling with further rate hikes as interest rates reach the highest point in over two decades. When asked about their ability to absorb an additional $130 in interest payments on debt, more than a third (37%, unchanged) say it is much worse. A quarter (25%, -3 pts) say their ability to deal with an interest rate increase of one percentage point has weakened.

While Ontarians have less left over in their wallets each month, there were bright spots in the data. Fewer are concerned about their ability to pay their debts (60%, -11 pts) or being in financial trouble (58%, -11 pts) if interest rates rise, but the majority are still worried. Far fewer fear being driven towards Bankruptcy (42%, -13 pts), although four in 10 still have this worry. Around the same number say they regret or are concerned about their debt, but debt regret (45%, -6 pts) and concern (45%, -7 pts) declined this quarter. Fewer (32%, -6 pts) say they don’t make enough to cover their bills and debt payments.

“For now, the financial pressures may be offset by the strong job market. As higher interest rates slow the economy, there will inevitably be some consequences like increased unemployment,” says Newbery-Mitchell. 

Concern about unemployment declined drastically in the province this quarter, as far fewer report being worried about someone in their household potentially losing their job (35%, -10 pts).

“Increasing costs may be somewhat manageable — but suddenly become troublesome with an unexpected loss of income, even after cutting back on non-essential spending,” says Newbery-Mitchell. “For those already close to the red, the danger of relying on credit to meet basic household needs is a real risk. Households may use credit to make ends meet thinking they will pay it off, but when debt mounts or they start to miss payments, they end up on a high-interest debt treadmill.”

The consequences of missed payments, compounding interest, repossession, or foreclosure can be swift and have long-lasting effects. Newbery-Mitchell recommends those who anticipate missing payments first contact their lender to see if they can set up a payment plan and seek advice from a Licensed Insolvency Trustee.

“In addition to initiating direct contact with their lenders, individuals facing the challenge of escalating debt should seek professional debt advice. Licensed Insolvency Trustees offer impartial advice on various debt relief solutions, including budgeting, debt consolidation, and Consumer Proposals," she says.

Licensed Insolvency Trustees are the only federally regulated debt professionals who can assist with all the debt relief options, including Consumer Proposals and Bankruptcy, which can discharge people from debt. To support those in need of financial assistance, MNP provides free consultations across the country.


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 has 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 MNPdebt.ca 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 three points since last quarter, but remains below the five-year average. Visit MNPdebt.ca/CDI 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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