Bank Account Blues: Half of Canadians say they’re worse off than a year ago, far fewer expect improvement


Budget looms; cost of living a higher concern than health care, environment for those in financial rut

As the federal government prepares to table its budget on March 28, a turbulent year has left many Canadians with dire assessments of their own finances and not many feeling optimistic about their financial futures.

New data from the non-profit Angus Reid Institute finds half (47%) of Canadians say they are worse off financially than they were at this time last year after a year of inflation not seen since the 1980s. As economists wonder if Canada is heading towards a recession, or worsestagflation, far fewer – one-in-five (22%) – expect their fortunes to improve in the next 12 months.

All this provides a sobering backdrop to the federal government’s upcoming budget, which Deputy Prime Minister and Finance Minister Chrystia Freeland has indicated will be fiscally prudent though reportedly will address affordability.

For Canadians in poor financial straits, there is one issue above all else that they feel is the top one facing the country: inflation. Seven-in-ten (69%) of those who say their finances deteriorated in the last 12 months, and say they expect them to worsen, select cost of living and inflation as a top concern for Canada, far outstripping those who select health care (39%) or the environment (11%). Those in better financial positions are most likely to select health care as a top priority.

A majority of residents in Saskatchewan (55%) and New Brunswick (56%) say they are financially worse off than they were last year. That is the most in the country, though at least two-in-five in every province report the same.

Those in Saskatchewan (41%) are also most pessimistic about their next 12 months financially. Newfoundlanders and Labradorians are the most optimistic at three-in-ten (28%) who believe their finances will improve