Jan 27, 2023
Canadians are cutting back on driving as inflation bites
Oil prices slumping as driving season coming to an end: Robert Yawger
The continuously high inflation Canada has been experiencing in the past two years has many Canadians reconsidering the way they get around.
A BNN Bloomberg and RATESDOTCA survey found that many Canadians are driving less, or even asking employers for more work from home days, in an effort to reduce transportation costs.
The survey, which was conducted by Leger from Jan. 13-15, asked 1,512 respondents about their driving habits. It found that 48 per cent of Canadians are planning or have made some cost-saving change to their transportation as a result of inflation.
Thirty five per cent of respondents said they were making an effort to drive less and avoid unnecessary trips. Six per cent said they had or plan to put off unnecessary vehicle repairs to save money. Another three per cent said they had sold additional vehicles in their household.
It’s no surprise that many Canadians are looking at saving money anyway they can right now. Inflation in the country has been above the Bank of Canada’s favoured two per cent target for more than a year. The latest reading, in December, showed inflation easing to an annual rate of 6.3 per cent, down from a a multi-decade high of 8.1 per cent during the summer.
Still, the slowdown is little consolation to Canadians who have seen everything from rents to gas to grocery bills surge in price.
The survey found that 11 per cent have already changed their mode of transportation to cut back on costs. Five per cent have switched from driving to walking or cycling, while three per cent have gone from driving to public transit.
Almost one-in-five (18 per cent) are changing or plan to change their work commute in some way. Five per cent are asking their employer for more remote work days, four per cent are considering a new job where they can commute less and three per cent have begun carpooling with friends.
Other ways Canadians are saving on their work commute include walking or cycling more, or taking public transit.
This marks a potential shift in trends seen since the pandemic, which resulted in a steep decline in ridership on public transit across the country. Many Canadians, afraid of catching COVID-19, opted to drive to work. That shift led to a spike in traffic congestion and exacerbated a shortage in vehicles in 2021 and 2022.
The good news is that Canadians cutting back on driving and reducing additional vehicle for their households could finally result in a let up of vehicle shortages. At any rate, it’s clear that high gas costs, rising insurance rates and the cost of vehicles is finally catching up with us.
BNN Bloomberg has teamed up with RATESDOTCA to take the pulse of Canadians every month on key pocketbook issues as we strive to better understand how households are navigating COVID-19. This is the latest instalment in monthly special coverage.