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

2024-01-08  3 minute read

Pamela Meger

MNP Consumer Debt Index

  • More Saskatchewan and Manitoba residents (45%, +3 pts) are concerned about their level of debt, and more (64%, +1 pt) are concerned about their ability to repay their debts.
  • More are making only minimum payments on credit cards (29%) or on line of credit (19%) compared to 2021.
  • One in five (22%) say they took from savings, home equity, RSP, or alternative methods to pay debt or day-to-day expenses in the last year.
  • Saskatchewan and Manitoba residents say their financial situation is taking a toll on their mental health, causing them anxiety (61%), stress (59%), isolation (49%), or embarrassment (39%).

Sun setting over empty prairie road with snow on them

REGINA, SK – January 8, 2024 – The impact of inflation and higher interest rates is leaving Saskatchewan and Manitoba residents feeling the most pessimistic about their debt situation compared to the other provinces, according to the latest MNP Consumer Debt Index. Saskatchewan and Manitoba residents are the most likely to perceive their debt situation as much worse (26%) compared to those in the other provinces, increasing four points since last quarter. Significantly fewer rated it better (21%) compared to a year ago, dropping 11 points. Looking back to five years ago, a rising proportion (31%, +5 pts) say their debt situation has worsened, while the number that say it has improved remains the same (33%, unchanged).

More Saskatchewan and Manitoba residents are concerned about their level of debt (45%, +3 pts) compared to last quarter, and nearly half say they regret the amount of debt they’ve taken on in life (45%, -2 pts). Three in five agree they are concerned about their ability to repay their debts (64%, +1 pt).

“Credit has been a lifeline for many Saskatchewan and Manitoba residents grappling with rising expenses. The data shows that the weight of repaying this debt is compounding the financial pressure on many households, especially amid higher interest rates," says Pamela Meger, a Licensed Insolvency Trustee with MNP LTD in Regina. “Prices are higher for most necessities, and debt repayment costs more. This causes people to feel pessimistic about repaying debts, managing expenses, and their overall financial outlook.”

Some Saskatchewan and Manitoba residents are feeling more optimistic than last quarter about their ability to absorb interest rate increases. However, interest rates likely contribute to residents’ financial concerns, as many continue to feel pessimistic about their ability to absorb further interest rate hikes. A quarter (26%, -3 pts) say their ability to deal with an increase of one percentage point has worsened, while fewer (23%, -2 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 (34%, -6 pts) say their ability to absorb this increase is much worse, while less than one in five (17%, -2 pts) say it has improved. 

“Many households took steps to budget more carefully to adjust to higher interest rates over the past year, which may be why some are feeling better equipped to handle an interest rate increase. However, not everyone has been able to fortify their budgets,” says Meger. “With the cost of living on the rise, households that were already stretched thin may find themselves accumulating more debt just to cover basic expenses. This pattern often leads to further challenges, trying to solve one problem by creating another.”

One in five (22%) Saskatchewan and Manitoba residents 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 Saskatchewan and Manitoba residents opting to make only the minimum payments on their debts has jumped over the past two years. Three in 10 (29%) say they have only made the minimum payments towards the balance on their credit card, up five points since 2021. One in five (19%) report making only the minimum payments on their line of credit, an increase of five points compared to 2021. Nearly a quarter (23%) indicate they borrowed money they can’t afford to pay back quickly, up three points since 2021.

“Saskatchewan and Manitoba residents are facing upcoming mortgage renewals, the ongoing cost surge, and the additional strain of impending holiday bills. Many might be nearing a crisis point both financially and mentally,” says Meger.

The survey also underscores the impact of finances on Saskatchewan and Manitoba residents’ mental health, with three in five indicating their financial situation causes them anxiety (61%) and stress (59%). Half say their financial situation causes them to feel a greater sense of isolation (49%), and two in five state they are embarrassed by the amount of debt they owe (39%). Nearly two in five (38%) admit to hiding their credit card debt from friends and family.

“At a certain point, some individuals realize that there is no clear path to repay what they owe and get out of their debt situation, regardless of the interest rates or timeline. This can be a very isolating, distressing, and sometimes embarrassing realization,” explains Meger.

She 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 stability and preparedness significantly contribute to a person’s overall well-being. Individuals experiencing financial distress should seek help, the same way someone facing a health crisis would seek help,” says Meger.

MNP’s national team of Licensed Insolvency Trustees offers free consultations to help severely indebted Saskatchewan and Manitoba residents 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.

“Sometimes it takes years or even decades for an individual to reach out and seek help,” Meger explains. “While some may need to consider steps like a Consumer Proposal or Bankruptcy, others may simply require guidance to help them create a budget and a plan to address their debt. Everyone’s circumstances are unique, so it is important to get tailored, unbiased 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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