Job loss, mental health, divorce, death: Canadians polled on financial survival

Special to WC Online

CANADA – Two thirds of Canadians say job loss and reduced income would cause them severe financial crisis a Credit Canada survey says.

As the full financial repercussions of the COVID-19 pandemic continue to unfold, a new national survey by Credit Canada reveals how Canadians fare when faced with a financial setback. The non-profit credit counselling agency released a study to benchmark the threats and realities of how crisis-proof Canadians are in terms of their financial lives.

The 2020 Survival Guide Study, an Angus Reid poll of 1,504 Canadians, found that two-in-three respondents (66 per cent) said job loss or reduced income would (or already has) caused them a severe financial crisis. Meanwhile, more than half (53 per cent) said a health/mental health crisis has the potential to trigger financial turmoil. Other highlights include:

  • An unexpected expense (49%)
  • Death of a loved one (41%)
  • Marital breakdown (41%)

“Canadian households are more vulnerable than ever as COVID-19 gives rise to a new wave of financial worries and consumer debt,” co-CEO of Credit Canada Keith Emery released in a statement May 5. “As we have consistently seen, financial insecurity, healthcare and mental health are inexorably linked, and this reality is only heightened during such an unprecedented time.”

The survey also explored where Canadians seek help when managing their finances during difficult times. Divestment of savings, stocks and RRSPs (45%) lead the way, quickly followed by taking a line of credit (42%). One-in-three (35%) would seek help from family/friends and three-in-10 (30%) would use a credit card.

Of note, four-in-10 of Canadians aged 18 to 34 would use credit cards to get out of a difficult financial situation compared to one-in-three 35 to 54-year-olds and 21% of those aged 55 and up.

Canadians would also consider other paths such as turning to an employer, non-profit credit counselling, bankruptcy/insolvency and payday loans.

“There is a new cohort of people from COVID-19 who will face financial challenges they have never experienced before; we need to educate them on what happens when they go down certain financial paths,” Emery said. “It’s encouraging that payday loans and cash advances are at the bottom of the list and seen as a last resort.”

While a great deal of government assistance and leniencies from banks have been introduced (such as reduced credit card interest rates and mortgage deferrals), many Canadians are still struggling to make ends meet.

To that end, the survey asked: “If you were to experience financial difficulties such that you couldn’t afford to pay all of your bills, which bill would you most likely miss paying?”

One-in-three would miss paying their credit card bill, one-in-four would skip their utilities bill. These are followed by: taking on a line of credit (19%), mortgage/rent (8%), insurance (7%) and car payments (4%).

“It’s important people understand the consequences of these choices. For example, while there are currently some mortgage payment deferrals available in Canada on a case-by-case basis, people need to contact their service providers (such as insurers or utilities) before missing a payment to confirm their options and the consequences of missing a payment,” Emery said.

Credit Canada has a COVID-19 Financial Resource Centre Canadians can visit for help during these difficult times. It offers free tools and tips, such as a Survival Guide for Tough Times and webinars.

Credit Canada is a not-for-profit credit counselling agency providing free and confidential debt and credit counselling, personal debt management, debt consolidation and resolutions, as well as preventative counselling, educational seminars, and free tips and tools in the areas of budgeting, money management, and financial goal-setting. Credit Canada is Canada’s first and longest-standing credit counselling agency and a leader in financial wellness, helping Canadians successfully manage their debt since 1966. Please visit for more information.

From April 27 to April 29, an online survey was conducted among a representative sample of 1,504 Canadians who are members of the Angus Reid Forum. For comparison purposes only, the sample plan would carry a margin of error of +/- 2.5 percentage points, 19 times out of 20. Discrepancies in or between totals are due to rounding.

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