Three in five Quebecers concerned about repaying debts amid high interest rates and inflation, revealing financial strain and mental health impact

2024-01-08  3 minute read

Frederic Lachance

MNP Consumer Debt Index

  • Two in five (44%, +3 pts) are concerned about their current level of debt. 
  • More are making only minimum payments on credit cards (22%) or on line of credit (15%) compared to 2021. 
  • One in 10 (10%) say they took from savings, home equity, RSP, or alternative methods to pay debt or day-to-day expenses in the last year.
  • Quebecers say their financial situation is taking a toll on their mental health, causing them anxiety (53%), stress (55%), isolation (41%), or embarrassment (37%). 

MONTREAL, QC – January 8, 2024 – The impact of inflation and higher interest rates is leaving Quebecers feeling pessimistic about their current debt situation, according to the latest MNP Consumer Debt Index. More Quebecers this quarter perceive their current debt situation as much worse (21%, +5 pts) and slightly fewer rated it better (26%, -1 pt) compared to a year ago. More Quebecers say they are concerned about their current level of debt (44%, +3 pts), and two in five regret the amount of debt they’ve taken on in life (43%, -1 pt). Three in five agree they are concerned about their ability to repay their debts (59%, unchanged).

“Putting spending on credit has become a relief mechanism for many Quebecers as they try to keep up with rising costs. The data underscores how the burden of repaying that debt is compounding the financial strain on many households, especially amid elevated interest rates,” says Frédéric Lachance, a Licensed Insolvency Trustee with MNP LTD in Montreal. “So many things cost more, and the cost of repaying debt has increased. That ultimately leaves people feeling pessimistic about paying off debts, making ends meet, and their financial futures. On top of that, we often see financial optimism deteriorate as the holiday bills arrive.” 

Interest rates likely contribute to this concern as some Quebecers continue to feel negatively about their ability to absorb interest rate increases. A quarter (25%, -1 pt) say their ability to deal with an increase of one percentage point has worsened, while the same proportion (25%, +4 pts) say they are better equipped to absorb this increase. When this question was rephrased to ask their ability to absorb an interest rate increase of an extra $130, more than a third (35%, +1 pt) say their ability to absorb this increase is much worse, while only a fifth (22%, +1 pt) say it has improved.  

“Many households made efforts to manage their finances more strictly in 2023, which may cause some to feel better equipped to manage an interest rate increase. However, not everyone has made the same headway,” says Lachance. “With the cost of living on the rise, Quebecers who were already overextended may feel they have to take on more debt just to afford basic expenses. This cycle often leads to disastrous outcomes because they end up trying to fill one hole by digging another.”

One in 10 (10%) Quebecers say they needed to take money from savings, home equity, RSP, or alternative methods to pay debt or day-to-day expenses in the past year. Additionally, the number of Quebecers opting to make only the minimum payments on their debts has jumped over the past two years. A fifth (22%) say they have made only the minimum payments towards the balance on their credit card, up eight points since 2021. More report making only the minimum payments on their line of credit (15%), an increase of nine points compared to 2021. One in 10 (10%) indicate they borrowed money they can’t afford to pay back quickly, up five points since 2021. 

“Quebecers are facing the added pressure of holiday bills coming due and upcoming mortgage renewals as costs continue to rise. Many could be approaching a crisis point both financially and mentally,” says Lachance. 

The survey also underscores the impact of finances on Quebecers’ mental health, with more than half indicating that their financial situation causes them anxiety (53%) and stress (55%). Two in five say that their financial situation causes them to feel a greater sense of isolation (41%), and more than a third state they are embarrassed by the amount of debt they owe (37%). One in three (33%) admit to hiding their credit card debt from friends and family.

“When individuals realize that there’s no straightforward path to settle their debts, regardless of the interest rates or timeline, it can feel extremely isolating, stressful, and sometimes embarrassing,” explains Lachance. 

He says that the shame and guilt associated with unmanageable debt often cause people to delay getting help, and many draw out the situation using credit to stay afloat. Some may face aggressive collections activity or debt relief scams — resulting in more stress and sleepless nights. 

“Financial security and preparedness support a person’s overall well-being. Individuals enduring financial hardship should seek help, the same way someone facing a health emergency would seek help,” says Lachance. 

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

“Our clients have often grappled with debt unnecessarily for long periods of time, sometimes spanning decades, before they seek our assistance,” Lachance explains. “While a Consumer Proposal or Bankruptcy might be necessary for certain cases, others simply require professional guidance to craft a budget and a strategy to manage their debts. Each person’s circumstances vary, which is why it is critical to get tailored, impartial advice from a licensed professional.”


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-seventh wave, the Index decreased to 83 points, down three points since last quarter. Visit to learn more.

The data was compiled by Ipsos on behalf of MNP LTD between November 28 and December 4, 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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