Quebecers’ concern and regret about debt soars amidst rising rates and affordability struggles

2023-07-10  3 minute read

Frederic Lachance

MNP Consumer Debt Index

  • Half regret the amount of debt they’ve taken on in life (51%, +9pts), an all-time high.
  • About half are concerned about their current level of debt (49%, +5pts).
  • More than a third say they can’t cover their bills and debt payments (37%), up eight points since last quarter.
  • Half report that they are $200 away or less from not being able to meet all their financial obligations (51%, +6pts).
  • Three in five say they will be in financial trouble if interest rates go up much further (60%, +3pts).

Child sitting on father's shoulders holding two Quebec flags.

MONTREAL, QC – July 10, 2023 – With interest rates rising and borrowing costs remaining a challenge for households, the proportion of Quebecers who feel anxious about debt has reached an all-time high. Half (51%) in the province report they regret the amount of debt they’ve taken on in life, up a staggering nine points this quarter to reach the highest recorded proportion since the MNP Consumer Debt Index began five years ago. Nearly half (49%) are concerned about their current level of debt, a significant five-point increase since last quarter.

“Battered by higher interest rates and inflation, a record number of Quebecers feel regretful about the amount of consumer debt they have,” says Frédéric Lachance, a Licensed Insolvency Trustee with MNP LTD in Montreal. “The burden of spiralling household bills and food prices is playing into Quebecers’ financial anxiety, particularly for those who are deeply indebted who are now saddled with much higher servicing costs.”

As the high cost of living persists, half (51%) of Quebecers report that they’re $200 away or less from not being able to meet all their financial obligations, increasing six points since last quarter. This includes more than a third (37%) who say they already don’t make enough to cover their bills and debt payments, making them insolvent, a significant eight-point spike since the previous quarter.

“Households are grappling with a myriad of financial pressures amid the surging cost of living. With many household budgets lacking the necessary wiggle room, many risk falling into arrears. In that situation, bills such as credit cards may go past due. That’s when late fees kick in and interest accrues quickly, which makes it very challenging to catch up,” says Lachance.

Compared to the previous quarter, more Quebecers say they’re feeling the effects of interest rate increases (63%, +2pts). Three in five are concerned about their ability to pay their debts as interest rates rise (60%, unchanged) and say they will be in financial trouble if interest rates go up much further (60%, +3pts). As a result, the overwhelming majority of Quebecers (82%, -1pt) say they will be more careful with how they spend their money.

Despite efforts to spend more cautiously, the average Quebecer reports a $224 increase in their weekly expenditure on essential items. Likely the result of inflation, more than seven in 10 Quebecers (71%) feel their weekly spending on essentials has increased by at least $100 compared to a year ago. A quarter (26%) feel it has increased by between $100 and $200.

“While households are tightening their belts and scaling back their spending habits, many have reached a point where further cuts simply aren’t possible. They’ve already reduced their entertainment expenditures and transitioned to the most economical choices at the grocery store. Yet, they continue to struggle with their basic financial obligations such as their rent or mortgage, or even putting food on the table,” explains Lachance. “Households in that position will be forced to make tough decisions about which bills to prioritize and which they may have to defer or skip entirely.”

Lachance recommends that those who anticipate missing payments contact their lender to see if they can set up a payment plan that fits within their means.

“Falling behind on their payments is a strong indicator that a debtor should seek professional advice,” says Lachance. “Apart from directly contacting their lenders, they should seek guidance from a Licensed Insolvency Trustee who can conduct a confidential review of their finances and provide impartial advice on a range of debt relief options, which may include budgeting, debt consolidation, and more, depending on the individual’s situation.”

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 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-fifth wave, the Index has declined significantly to 83 points, down six points since last quarter. Visit to learn more.

The data was compiled by Ipsos on behalf of MNP LTD between June 1 and June 6, 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.

National data is available upon request.

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