Prince Edward Islanders’ concerns about debt and interest rates ease, yet repayment anxiety persists for majority

2024-04-08  6 minute read

MNP Consumer Debt Index

  • Six in 10 Atlantic Canadians are concerned about their ability to repay their debts (62%, -8 pts).
  • More than a third of Atlantic Canadians (35%, +5 pts) say they already can't cover their bills and debt payments each month.
  • More than half of Atlantic Canadians are feeling a social squeeze as the financial pressure of social obligations means many simply can’t afford to participate.
  • More than a third of Atlantic Canadians say they still haven’t recovered financially from the pandemic four years later — more than those in any other province.

harbour in Prince Edward Island

CHARLOTTETOWN, PEI – April 8, 2024 – The latest MNP Consumer Debt Index finds that Atlantic Canadians are feeling increasingly confident in their personal finances this quarter as interest rate concerns ease. More Atlantic Canadians perceive their current debt situation to be better (24%, +4 pts) and fewer rated it as much worse compared to a year ago (22%, -1 pt). With the prospect of interest rate cuts on the horizon, significantly fewer Atlantic Canadian households are concerned about their level of debt (38%, -9 pts) and fewer regret the amount of debt they’ve taken on in life (48%, -4 pts). One in five say they are much better equipped to absorb an interest rate increase of one percentage point (21%, unchanged) or an extra $130 in interest payments (19%, +4 pts).

“The report reflects a noticeable shift in debt sentiment. Atlantic Canadians feel things are not as bad as they once were,” says Walter MacKinnon, a local Licensed Insolvency Trustee with MNP LTD. “While there is a sense of improvement, it’s important to recognize that many Atlantic Canadians are still feeling squeezed by persistent cost-of-living pressures and the lingering financial effects of the pandemic.”

While fewer this quarter are concerned about their ability to repay their debts (62%, -8 pts), repayment anxiety persists for the majority of Atlantic Canadians. Nearly half (48%, -5 pts) of Atlantic Canadians report being $200 or less away from failing to meet all their financial obligations. However, there is a shift among those who were close to insolvency and those already not making enough to cover their bills. More than a third (35%, +5 pts) say they already can't cover their bills and debt payments, an increase of five points since last quarter. Additionally, nearly three in five (58%, -2 pts) say they will be in financial trouble if interest rates go up much more.

“Wrestling with overwhelming debt or teetering on the brink of insolvency is more common than many may believe. The data shows far more Atlantic Canadians report being technically insolvent this quarter, meaning they are unable to pay all their bills and debt obligations,” says MacKinnon. “It’s important for people to know that they’re not alone. Professional debt assistance is available — and seeking it out sooner rather than later can prevent the situation from escalating further.”

MacKinnon says that the shame and guilt associated with unmanageable debt often cause people to delay getting professional assistance. However, this puts them at risk of aggressive collections activity and debt relief scams — resulting in further stress and isolation.

“Debt can be a lonely, draining, and tiresome burden. The lingering effects of the COVID-19 pandemic and the cost-of-living crisis only exacerbate this financial and emotional strain,” explains MacKinnon. “Confronting debt can be difficult, but people often tell us they feel a weight has been lifted off their shoulders once they reach out for help.”

More than half of Atlantic Canadians (52%) indicate they are feeling a social squeeze on their personal finances and are worried about the amount of money they’ll have to spend on lifestyle and social obligations.

“More than half of Atlantic Canadians are feeling overwhelmed or discouraged by the steep costs associated with participating in social events like weddings, birthdays, or graduations. Those unable to participate due to financial constraints may find themselves slipping further into hardship,” explains MacKinnon.

While three in 10 Atlantic Canadians say they have recovered financially since the start of the pandemic in 2020 (30%), far more say they are in a worse financial state than they were pre-pandemic (37%). Atlantic Canadians are the most likely to report that they still haven’t financially recovered from the pandemic four years later compared to those in other provinces.

“There are individuals who are stuck in a cycle of unmanageable debt and unsure of how to break free. Especially noteworthy is the fact that Atlantic Canadians are the most likely to report that they still haven’t financially recovered from the pandemic — underscoring its long-lasting impact,” says MacKinnon. “Without action, a solution remains out of reach. Seeking advice from a Licensed Insolvency Trustee is a crucial first step in breaking free of this cycle. Everyone’s situation is different, which is why it’s so important to get customized, unbiased guidance.”

MNP’s national team of Licensed Insolvency Trustees offers free consultations to help severely indebted Atlantic 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.


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-eighth wave, the Index increased to 91 points, up eight points since last quarter. Visit to learn more.

The data was compiled by Ipsos on behalf of MNP LTD between March 8 and March 15, 2024. 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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