MNP debt index hits new five-year low
Canadians are increasingly worried about their levels of debt amid rising interest rates and high inflation, according to quarterly poll results released by MNP Ltd. on Monday.
The MNP Consumer Debt Index, a quarterly snapshot of consumer sentiment in Canada, fell 15 points to 77 in a new low for the index that speaks to Canadians’ mounting concerns about their personal finances
The report also found that nearly half of respondents were concerned about their debt at 47 per cent, a record-high figure that jumped seven points from the last survey.
MNP also said that fewer people were confident in their ability to pay for living expenses this year without going further into debt, at 51 per cent, and 68 per cent said they were already feeling the effects of central interest rate hikes after last year’s tightening cycle from the Bank of Canada.
Grant Bazian, president of insolvency firm MNP, said the results show how higher interest rates and inflation are hitting Canadian’s attitudes about their debt.
“For many, this represents a double whammy, because inflation is eroding household budgets and, at the same time, financially fragile and overleveraged Canadians face sharply rising borrowing costs,” Bazian said in a written statement.
More people reported that their ability to absorb a one percentage point interest rate increase had worsened, up nine points from the last survey at 26 per cent. Three in five people said they are more concerned about their ability to pay their debts as interest rates rise, and 59 per cent said they would be in financial trouble if interest rates go much higher, the report found.
Just under half of respondents, at 45 per cent, said they are $200 away or less from not being able to meet all their financial obligations, and 30 per cent said they already don’t make enough income to cover their bills. Those figures remained consistent from the last quarter.
Canadians with household incomes lower than $40,000 and people aged 18 to 54 were most likely to feel the squeezing effects of interest rate increases and be concerned about their debt repayment abilities.
More than half of respondents said feeding their families and saving money are less affordable, and a similar percentage said transportation, clothing and housing were becoming less affordable.
A growing percentage of Canadians also reported taking on more debt. More people said they have only paid back the minimum on their credit cards or lines of credit compared with December 2021, and that they borrowed money they can’t pay back quickly. One in five people reported their would use savings to pay their bills, and one in 10 said they would use their credit cards or borrow money from friends or family.
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.
The data was compiled by Ipsos on behalf of MNP LTD between December 1-6 2022. 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.