Canadians’ Added To Their Debt During The Pandemic: Survey

A new report from BDO Debt Solutions has found that 43% of Canadians have accrued additional debt due to the COVID-19 pandemic.

The report found that 26% of Canadians incurred at least one new type of debt for the first time this year. Of those, 70% indicated it’s made their standard of living worse.

However, some Canadians have been saving more than ever before during the pandemic. Around 28% of respondents across the country managed to decrease their spending, save money and pay down their debt, according to the survey.

Canadians with higher saving levels and lower debt are primarily people earning $100,000 or more and those with a university education. People adding to their debt levels are mostly women, people between the ages of 35 and 54, or Atlantic Canadians.

BDO numbers show that 10% of Canadians are now carrying credit card balances for the first time; at least 60% are not on track to retire based on current savings; and 45% are facing affordability barriers to owning a home.

That, in turn, is also causing many Canadians to be heavily reliant on government benefits. Three in ten Canadians (30%) accessed government benefits during the pandemic, and more than 76% of those described the aid as "very important" or "essential" to their finances.

The survey also found that 65% of Canadians receiving government aid are not confident that they can maintain their current standard of living once they stop receiving those benefits.