Canadians are growing more concerned about the state of the economy and the impacts on their pocketbooks, a new poll suggests, with a majority now saying they are worried they won’t have enough money to feed their families.
The Ipsos poll conducted exclusively for Global News found 53 per cent of those surveyed were fearful about having enough food on the table, up nine points from just a month ago.
“It’s quite a startling statistic,” said Sean Simpson, senior vice-president of Ipsos Public Affairs.
But the poll also found economic concerns have grown across the board since October — particularly when it comes to the holidays.
Just under half of respondents (48 per cent) said they are worried about getting over their heads with holiday spending, marking a 15-point jump, while 52 per cent feared they won’t have enough for holiday gifts (up seven points).
Concern over a potential recession hitting Canada within the next year has also gone up three points, with 86 per cent of Canadians surveyed now saying they’re either somewhat or very worried.
“We’re seeing quite remarkable and significant changes in such a short period of time,” Simpson said.
“Canadians clearly have heightened anxieties over the potential for a recession, over interest rates, over high inflation. And as a result, we’re seeing dramatic changes.”
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The poll was released hours before the Bank of Canada was expected to conclude a historic year marked by high inflation and aggressive monetary policy tightening with one more interest rate hike on Wednesday.
In the wake of rapidly-rising inflation this year, the Bank of Canada has raised its key interest rate six consecutive times since March, racing to clamp down on inflation expectations before they became unmoored.
The rate now stands at 3.75 per cent, and even a smaller hike would bring the interest rate to the highest it’s been since 2008.
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The poll suggests 71 per cent of Canadians feel the rising interest rates are outpacing their ability to adjust their own finances, up four points from October.
Canada’s annual inflation rate in October was 6.9 per cent, down from a peak of 8.1 per cent in June but still well above the central bank’s two per cent target. The rate has stayed steady over the previous two months.
But food inflation remains above 10 per cent, and a new report released Monday suggests food prices will continue to rise another five to seven per cent over the course of 2023.
Women and younger Canadians were more likely to express their fears about the economy and its impacts, the poll found, with both groups particularly concerned about holiday spending compared to men and older respondents. Parents within those groups were also more worried.
Simpson says for younger Canadians who were disproportionately impacted economically by the COVID-19 pandemic, the current economic situation is akin to being thrown “out of the pot and into the frying pan.”
“It’s no wonder that younger people are feeling a little bit pessimistic, a little bit down right now because they seem to be hit with one challenge after another,” he said.
How inflation is impacting Canadians ahead of the holidays
The poll also found Canadians are growing increasingly concerned they they might lose their job if the economic situation does not improve, with 42 per cent saying so — up nine points since last month.
An even bigger number — 61 per cent — said they were worried they won’t be able to afford gasoline, a number that has jumped 13 points.
Canadians are also continuing to change their behaviours in order to counter the effects of high inflation and rising interest rates, the poll found.
Large numbers of respondents said they have cut back on dining out (52 per cent), entertainment (46 per cent) and buying new clothing (44 per cent), while 34 per cent said they have told their children “no” more often this year.
“At the end of the day, what people know is how much money they have left in their pocketbook at the end of the month,” Simpson said.
“The feeling is that Canadians’ personal financial situation is deteriorating.”
These are some of the findings of an Ipsos poll conducted between November 11th-15th, 2022, on behalf of Global News. For this survey, a sample of 1,005 Canadians aged 18+ was interviewed. Quotas and weighting were employed to ensure that the sample’s composition reflects that of the Canadian population according to census parameters. The precision of Ipsos online polls is measured using a credibility interval. In this case, the poll is accurate to within ± 3.5 percentage points, 19 times out of 20, had all Canadians aged 18+ 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.
© 2022 Global News, a division of Corus Entertainment Inc.