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  4. Credit Cards and Savings Tapped for Help During COVID Leaves Canadians Vulnerable as Livings Costs Rise

Credit Cards and Savings Tapped for Help During COVID Leaves Canadians Vulnerable as Livings Costs Rise: One-in-three with non-mortgage debts are struggling with their debt, making minimum payments or less.

(New Wesminster, BC – January 31, 2022) For the two-thirds of Canadians carrying non-mortgage debt, 2022 has brought little relief from the stress and anxiety around their finances. That’s just one of the findings of the Credit Counselling Society’s recent Consumer Debt Report, from a survey conducted among members of the Angus Reid Forum.

Significant personal debt – 39 per cent report owing at least $10,000 of non-mortgage debt – and the cost of living continue to put a strain on Canadians. The financial pressure facing them is only exacerbated by the fact that many are afraid to reach out for assistance, with 44 per cent of respondents with non-mortgage debts saying they’d feel “embarrassed” to ask for help.

“The report found that most people would rather talk about their physical or mental health or personal relationships, than their financial problems, which isn’t surprising,” explains President & CEO Scott Hannah. “This echoes what we hear every day. Money is still a topic that many people are afraid or embarrassed to talk openly about, which gets in the way of their ability to get help when they need it most.”

With 65 per cent of Canadians carrying non-mortgage debt, 42 per cent would wait until their monthly payments exceed $1,000 before seeking help. Hannah adds, “Waiting until their payments reach that level leaves them extremely vulnerable to factors beyond their control.”

When asked about the causes of their worsening financial situation, three-in-four Canadians (76 per cent) who are worse off financially now than at the beginning of the pandemic said spending on essentials such as food, housing and transportation was the cause. “Canadians have reached a tipping point with their budgets,” states Vice President of Programs & Services Isaiah Chan. “They are simply not able to cut their expenses any further and as a result, take on more debt to get by, which only adds to their problems.”

With one-in-three Canadians (32 per cent) feeling anxious about their finances, and nearly as many, 28 per cent – an increase of eight per cent since November 2020 – feeling pessimistic about their financial situation right now, there is a clear connection between financial stress and mental health. “Two-thirds of Canadians carrying non-mortgage debts (67 per cent) needed some kind of financial help during the pandemic,” stresses Chan. He encourages everyone who needs help with their finances to reach out to the Credit Counselling Society sooner than later. “With the whole world talking about money, there’s nothing to be ashamed of. If your finances are keeping you up at night, you need to ask for help now. We’re just a friendly phone call away.”

About the Credit Counselling Society (CCS)

The Credit Counselling Society is a non-profit organization dedicated to helping consumers manage their money and debt better. CCS provides free, confidential credit counselling, debt repayment options, budgeting assistance and financial education. Visit www.nomoredebts.org

About this Study

These are the findings of a study/survey conducted by Credit Counselling Society from January 6th to 12th, 2022 with a representative sample of 1,032 online Canadians who are members of the Angus Reid Forum. The survey was conducted in English and French.

About Angus Reid Forum surveys:

The precision of Angus Reid Forum online polls is measured using a credibility interval. In this case, the poll is accurate to within +/- 3.1 percentage points, 19 times out of 20, had all Canadians been polled. All sample surveys and polls may be subject to other sources of error, including, but not limited to coverage error, and measurement error.

About the Angus Reid Forum:

The Angus Reid Forum is Canada’s most well-known and trusted online public opinion community consisting of engaged residents across the country who answer surveys on topical issues that matter to all Canadians.

Media Inquires:

The Credit Counselling Society has spokespeople from across Canada available for interviews to discuss the report in more detail as well as any other relevant financial topics. Please feel free to reach out to the number below:

Monika Ritchie, Media & Content Specialist
Direct: 604.636.0228