4 in 10 Canadians are gloomy about the economy ahead of budget

And most are concerned about their retirement outlook

4 in 10 Canadians are gloomy about the economy ahead of budget
Steve Randall

With the federal government setting out its budget Tuesday, a survey shows that most Canadians are not convinced there are good times ahead.

Four in 10 told an Angus Reid Poll that they expect the economy to be in worse shape in 12 months’ time while just 24% think it will improve and 39% think it will stay the same.

The weakened sentiment ties in with the views of many economists. RBC has cut its forecast for Canadian economic growth in 2019.

The results show that Canadians are remaining cautious about spending on big-ticket items with 55% saying they expect the next 12 months to be a bad time to make a major purchase.

Nearly half (48%) are worried that someone in their household could lose a job because of the economy.

Provincially, Albertans are the most positive about their economy ahead of provincial elections while Ontarians are the most pessimistic about the coming 12 months.

Retirement fears
The poll shows that 71% of respondents are concerned that they won’t be able to live as well in the future as their grandparents’ generation did; this includes 52% of men and 60% of women aged 55 and older.

When asked about their expectation for a comfortable retirement based on their current financial position, 60% of men but just 48% of women 55+ felt they could achieve that.

But among younger age groups, retirement optimism is far lower:

  • 18-34 year olds: 40% of men and 33% of women;
  • 35-54 year olds: 35% of men and 30% of women.

Among the issues respondents said were the most important facing Canada right now are health care, the environment, and income inequality and poverty.

Taxes were cited as an important issue by just 10%.

Debt burden
More than a third of respondents said they have too much credit card debt and only 28% said they are never really stressed about money.

Many of the concerns expressed in the 2019 poll have not changed significantly from Angus Reid’s 2015 survey but the share of those concerned that they won’t live as well in the future as their grandparents did and those saying they have too much credit card debt, have both increased by more than 10 percentage points.