Debt-burdened Canadians aren’t catching a break at the pumps, with four out of 10 surveyed in a new Angus Reid Institute poll saying a surge in gasoline prices is making it harder for them to afford their basic needs.

Forty-four per cent of Canadians surveyed said they’re struggling to meet their necessities due to increasing gas prices. The survey’s findings come amid heightened concern over Canadians’ mounting debt loads and as the beginning of the summer driving season is set to push gas prices even higher, starting with the Victoria Day holiday this weekend.  

Most Canadians affected by rising gas prices said they’ve changed their behaviour to soften the blow to their wallets. Thirty-five per cent said they’re spending less time at the wheel, while 26 per cent say they’re filing up less. Seven per cent said they’ve crossed the U.S. border to buy gas.

Gas prices have risen across the country as geopolitical tensions push crude higher. Domestically, the introduction of a federal carbon tax for four provinces in April also helped drive the increase.

Canadians are divided on what’s behind the higher prices, with 43 per cent blaming government taxes and 39 per cent blaming oil companies looking to maximize their profit.

In British Columbia, which has the highest gas prices in North America, nine out of 10 drivers said they’ve noticed a “major increase,” with 70 per cent saying they would support the government introducing a price cap.