Report: Six in 10 Canadians are concerned about the impact of interest rates on their financial situation, reaching the highest level on record

2022-10-24  5 minute read

Grant Bazian

Lifestyle Debt

Renters and lower-income households are more financially vulnerable to the impacts of rising interest rates

Canadian Parliament Buildings in autumn seen from Majors Hill Park in Ottawa Canada.

CALGARY, AB – October 24, 2022 – As another Bank of Canada interest rate announcement looms, a recent poll conducted by Ipsos on behalf of MNP LTD finds six in 10 Canadians (59%,+1pt) are concerned about the impact of rising interest rates on their financial situation — inching up from last quarter to reach the highest point since tracking began in 2017.

“After the repeated interest rate hikes this year, it’s understandable that Canadians are more concerned than ever about the impact on their finances,” says Grant Bazian, president of MNP LTD, the country’s largest insolvency firm. “Our findings indicate renters and lower-income households are more financially vulnerable to the impacts of rising interest rates and the cost of living. These groups will need to be particularly cautious with their spending in the coming months to keep themselves out of financial trouble.”

Compared to homeowners, those who rent are significantly more likely to be concerned about the impact of rising interest rates on their financial situation (34% of renters vs. 29% of owners). Furthermore, as interest rates rise, renters are significantly more likely to be concerned with their ability to repay their debts (63% of renters vs. 48% of owners), to be afraid they will be in financial trouble (59% of renters vs. 41% of owners), and to say that rising rates could move them towards Bankruptcy (45% of renters vs. 27% of owners).

Canadians with a household income of less than $40,000 are the most likely to feel the effects of interest rate increases, to be concerned with their ability to repay their debts, to say that rising rates would cause them to face financial trouble, and to fear that rising interest rates are moving them closer towards Bankruptcy.

  <$40K  $40K - $60K $60K - $100K >$100K
Feeling the effects of interest rate increases 62% 53% 57% 55%
Concerned about their ability to repay debts 60% 51% 52%

52%

Rising interest rates will cause them to face financial trouble  59% 46% 44%

44%

Rising interest rates will move them closer to Bankruptcy 44%  34%  32% 29%


Bazian says those who are financially vulnerable and struggling to make ends meet will likely not be able to cut their budgets any further if interest rates continue to rise and make their debts more unaffordable.

“For households that have already slashed their budgets and shaved off as many expenses as they can, any future interest rate hikes could put them in a position where they’re forced to take on additional debt to keep up with their bills. But the ballooning cost of servicing that debt also makes it far more difficult to pay off,” explains Bazian. “Individuals in that position should seek professional debt help from a Licensed Insolvency Trustee before their debt snowballs further.”

While Licensed Insolvency Trustees can administer debt-relief options including Consumer Proposals and Bankruptcy, they are also qualified to provide valuable personalized debt advice to individuals who are struggling to budget for their bills and debt repayment obligations. Additionally, Licensed Insolvency Trustees can help individuals reduce their debts through an informal debt settlement — a voluntary arrangement negotiated between an individual and their creditors, which will help put them in a better financial position as the cost of borrowing continues to rise.

Bazian says even individuals who are not yet at their breaking point can be making small budget changes to give themselves some breathing room.

“Smaller expenses on your credit card often go unnoticed but can really add up. Monthly subscriptions can be sneaky, including TV streaming subscriptions, app subscriptions, music subscriptions and cloud services, for example,” says Bazian.

“Start cutting back by cancelling subscriptions you rarely or no longer use and check to see if you have any overlapping services you can cut. Keep an eye on trial offers and set reminders to cancel before you’re charged or the pricing goes up. Always look over your bills each month with a critical eye to keep those recurring expenditures in check and cut down on costs where you can.”

Most Canadians (84%, +2) agree they will be more careful with how they spend their money with interest rates rising. Women are the most likely to agree they will be more careful with their spending.

As Canadians tighten their budgets, a quarter (25%, +4pts) say they’re better equipped to absorb an interest rate increase of one percentage point than they used to be, while fewer (17%, -7pts) say their ability to deal with this increase has worsened. When asked about their ability to absorb an interest rate increase of an extra $130, one in five (21%, +2) say it’s much better, while a quarter (27%, -6) say it’s much worse.

Yet while the majority of Canadians are more conscious of their spending, more than half (57%, -2) say they’re already beginning to feel the effects of interest rate increases. At the same time, one in five (22%, -1pt) say they don’t have a solid understanding of how interest rate increases impact their financial situation.

“Slightly more Canadians than last quarter believe they’re better prepared for an interest rate increase, but these individuals are still in the minority. Canadians can take steps to improve their financial standing in preparation for current and future interest rate hikes,” says Bazian. “That may include seeking out professional debt advice, making monthly budgeting a priority, and taking the time to understand how interest fluctuations will affect their monthly expenses and debt repayments.”

The proportion of Canadians who say they’re more concerned about their ability to pay their debts as interest rates rise has remained relatively stable since last quarter, at 55 percent (-1pt). Also remaining stable since last quarter, half (50%, unchanged) say they will be in financial trouble if interest rates go up much more. A third (36%, -3) say rising rates could drive them closer to Bankruptcy, showing only a modest improvement since last quarter.

About MNP LTD

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 Survey

The data was compiled by Ipsos on behalf of MNP LTD between September 6 and September 13, 2022. 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.

Provincial data is available upon request.