National Survey Finds 25% Of Canadians Struggling To Make Ends Meet

A new national survey by pollster Angus Reid Institute has found that more than a quarter of Canadians are in serious financial hardship, with many having to borrow money just to buy groceries.

Part of an examination of poverty, the report from Angus Reid found that 21% of respondents said they can't afford to go for dental care, while one quarter reported they have had to borrow money to shop for groceries.

Angus Reid says it sought to go beyond the usual income-based measures of poverty with this study. Instead, the organization said it asked respondents about their personal experiences in order to paint a picture of the ability of Canadians to make ends meet.

Respondents were asked about 12 money-related situations, including whether they've used a pay day loan, if they've used a food bank, if they've not been able to pay a utility bill and if they can afford to go for dental care. Based on the results of those questions, Angus Reid categorized them into four groups.

Those in the “struggling group” — roughly 16% of the population — have faced at least four of the 12 situations, and roughly 77% of them are experiencing at least one on an ongoing basis.
Just above that group are those categorized as being “on the edge” who account for about 11% of the population. They are more likely to have only recently begun to face financial challenges, but they're on the verge of serious difficulty, Angus Reid said in a news release.

The rest of the population is roughly evenly spread over two groups: the “recently comfortable” and the “always comfortable.”

The research group pointed out that more than one in five people in the “struggling group” have household incomes between $50,000 and $100,000. However, based on their survey responses, those people are facing financial difficulty, which might be due to debt, the cost of living in their area or the expense of child-rearing.

Asked if they view their personal financial situation as better, worse or the same as their parents at the same stage of life, 67% of those who are struggling replied that they were worse off, while 54% of those on the edge thought they were doing worse than their parents. Among the always comfortable group, only 16% thought they were worse off.

Angus Reid conducted the survey online between May 28 and June 13, polling a randomized sample of 2,542 Canadian adults who are members of Maru Voice Canada, an online market research panel. The sample plan included a special booster sample of 242 respondents with household incomes below $35,000.