A new survey found that more than half of Canadians find it challenging to discuss financial issues with those closest to them. 

BDO Debt Solutions’ Debt Stigma Survey, released Monday, found that 56 per cent of respondents indicated they found it difficult to discuss financial issues with their friends and family. 

“Most people find it very difficult to talk about debt and the financial challenges they’re facing, let alone the strategies for overcoming debt,” Nancy Snedden, the national leader of the BDO Debt Solutions practice, said in a press release. 

“As a result, a lot of people who are struggling feel lost and isolated, making their situation even more stressful."

Thirty-eight per cent of those surveyed with no plans to discuss their debt indicated a fear of judgment as well as shame or embarrassed feelings, the survey found.

Other reasons cited included privacy concerns, held among 35 per cent of respondents, as well as 31 per cent saying they feared people thinking they were asking for money and 29 per cent saying they were afraid of burdening others. 

Canadians aged 18-34 were found to be most concerned about their debt, with 64 per cent indicating these concerns, compared to 40 per cent of those older than 55 indicating debt-related concerns. 

“For this younger demographic, the challenge to talk about financial issues, including debt, stems from knowledge gaps and low financial literacy when it comes to debt management concepts for almost one-third of respondents (32 per cent),” the release said. 

The survey indicated that of those who find it the most challenging to discuss financial issues, 86 per cent say it would be hard to admit they can’t afford their grocery bill. Within that group, 85 per cent answered they would find it difficult to tell family or friends they have too much debt and ask for help. 

“The results of our BDO Debt Stigma Survey clearly affirm a sense of shame and embarrassment among those burdened with affordability challenges and debt,” Snedden said. 

However, the survey also found that Canadians “are showing signs” that increased transparency on financial matters is required, as 89 per cent of respondents said they would tell their family or friends if they were not able to participate in an event due to budget constraints.


The online survey was conducted in a partnership between BDO Canada and Leger. It was conducted between Sept. 15 to Sept. 17 among a random sample of 1,565 Canadians over the age of 18.