Quebecers’ debt outlook reaches lowest point in five years; significantly more anticipate struggling with further interest rate increases

2023-10-18  4 minute read

Frederic Lachance

MNP Consumer Debt Index

  • Significantly more Quebecers say their ability to handle an interest rate increase (26%, +7 pts) or an additional $130 in interest payments on debt (34%, +11 pts) has worsened.
  • More Quebecers say their current and expected debt situation is deteriorating.
  • More are worried about potential job losses (42%, + 3pts).

Landscape in Quebec

MONTREAL, QC – October 18, 2023 – From near zero to the highest interest rates in over two decades, the latest MNP Consumer Debt Index reveals that significantly more Quebecers anticipate struggling with further rate hikes. More than a third say they are much less able to absorb an additional $130 in interest payments on debt (34%, +11 pts). Significantly more (26%, +7 pts) say their ability to deal with an interest rate increase of one percentage point has weakened.

“Many household budgets are already stretched thin. We’re seeing growing concern about the potential for continued interest rate hikes to magnify previous increases to debt carrying costs and living expenses,” says Frédéric Lachance, a Licensed Insolvency Trustee with MNP LTD in Montreal. “There is no mystery as to what is causing the bleak outlook in Quebec. It’s getting harder to make ends meet.”

Reflecting on their current debt situation, more Quebecers say their current situation is much worse than it was a year (16%, +3 pts) and five years ago (22%, +6 pts). Looking into the future, more believe their debt situation will worsen over the next one (18%, +5 pts) to five years (17%, +5 pts).

Almost half (48%, -3 pts) in the province report that they are $200 away or less from not being able to meet all their financial obligations. At the same time, the average amount of money that Quebecers say they have left over at the end of the month dropped this quarter to $712 (-$79) as the surging cost of living has chipped away at household budgets.

While Quebec residents’ debt outlook and ability to absorb additional interest rates have deteriorated, there were a few bright spots in the data. Quebecers feel marginally better about the potential for rising interest rates to impact their ability to pay their debts (59%, -1 pt), force them into financial trouble (54%, -6pts), or drive them toward Bankruptcy (43%, -4 pts).

Perhaps adjusting somewhat to the higher interest rate environment, measures of debt regret (44%, -7 pts) and concern (41%, -8 pts) declined this quarter. Significantly fewer say they don’t make enough to cover their bills and debt payments (27%, -10 pts).

“The strong job market has offset some financial pressures for now. The uncomfortable truth is that there will inevitably be some consequences as higher interest rates slow the economy — including increased unemployment,” says Lachance.

Concern about unemployment is increasing in the province as more this quarter report being worried about someone in their household potentially losing their job (42%, +3 pts).

Lachance says that higher unemployment and underemployment — where individuals either don’t earn enough or receive enough hours to meet their household expenses — is one of the leading causes of insolvency.

“The ever-increasing cost of living may be manageable when income remains consistent. It can suddenly become troublesome with an unexpected loss of income, especially since most households have already cut back on non-essential spending,” he says. “That’s where relying on credit to meet basic household needs becomes a real risk. Households use credit to make ends meet, resolving that they will pay it off as soon as their circumstances improve. But as the bills mount, more of those bills go onto credit. Then, they start making minimum payments. Then, they start to miss payments. And that’s how people end up on a high-interest debt treadmill,” he explains.

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

“In addition to contacting their lenders, we advise anyone facing the challenge of escalating debt to seek professional debt advice. Licensed Insolvency Trustees offer impartial advice on various debt relief solutions, including budgeting and debt consolidation, Consumer Proposals, and Personal Bankruptcy," he says.

Licensed Insolvency Trustees are the only federally regulated debt professionals who can assist with all the debt relief options — including Consumer Proposals and Bankruptcies, which can immediately stop harassment from debt collectors — and 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-sixth wave, the Index increased to 86 points, up three points since last quarter, but remains below the five-year average. Visit 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.

Consultation icon