Quebeckers are financially stressed and want to cut their debt burden

New report finds 85% in the province are suffering economic anxiety of some kind

Quebeckers are financially stressed and want to cut their debt burden
Steve Randall

Economic anxiety is heightened in Quebec with 85% of respondents to a new poll saying they are suffering to some degree including 44% who rate it moderate to extreme.

The research by Leger for the Centraide of Greater Montreal comes on International Day for the Eradication of Poverty (Oct. 17) and reveals that debt repayment is the main concern of people with severe or extreme anxiety, even ahead of housing and food costs.

The level of anxiety felt by Quebeckers is not universal with some groups more likely to feel more significant burden including racialized groups (60%), parents (58%), young people aged 18 to 34 (54%), people with a functional impairment (51%), women (51%), people without post-secondary education (50%), and people living on a low income (49%).

"Our social fabric is under great strain due to factors such as the housing crisis, increased food costs, and mental distress," said Claude Pinard, president, and executive director of Centraide of Greater Montreal. "A significant number of people are experiencing financial anxiety because they are struggling to make ends meet. Greater Montreal is home to a high percentage of Quebeckers in a situation of poverty and vulnerability. They are feeling great stress, while the community sector that helps them is facing enormous challenges."

Among specific concerns are the cost of the new school year (among parents), essential expenses (low income, parents, and racialized groups), and not being able to buy a home (young people).

But 46% of all respondents fear an unexpected expense and 44% are concerned about running out of money in retirement.

No improvement

The province’s overall financial anxiety index score has stayed steady at 39.1 but Christian Bourque, EVP at Leger, says things are not improving.

"More households, or 54%, are expecting an increase in housing costs in the coming months. This is an increase of 10 percentage points since April,” he said. “Quebeckers' financial uncertainty is not trending toward optimism either, as one in ten people considers themselves in a bad financial situation. This is like a grey cloud that just won't go away."