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inflation | Canadians are struggling

With prices steadily rising, most Canadians are struggling to meet their daily expenses, the latest Statistics Canada survey reveals. In April, the increase reached 6.8%.

Posted at 6:00 a.m.

Isabelle Dube

Isabelle Dube
The Press

Three out of four Canadians

It’s hard to afford day-to-day expenses like transportation, housing, food and clothing, say nearly three in four Canadians. The rise in prices accentuates the financial concerns of households and undoubtedly influences their decisions according to this new reality.

Many Canadians have changed their behavior by adjusting their spending habits, postponing buying a home or postponing moving into a new apartment.

While there are few variations from one province to another, people with lower incomes are more concerned and affected by rising prices.

Food prices fuel stress

Rising food prices regularly make headlines and fuel financial stress for many households. More than two out of five Canadians say that this increase affects them the most. From April 2021 to April 2022, the price of food increased by 9.7%. Households had to pay much more for staple foods.

In the next six months, one in five Canadians expects to obtain food or meals from a community organization.

As it’s not just the price of food that is rising, Canadians have struggled to budget for food, the survey says.

Transportation costs are more of a concern for residents of rural areas. However, among Canadians who buy gas, 94% are very (67%) or somewhat (27%) concerned about rising gas prices.

Housing: the strongest increase since 1983

About 56% of Canadians are very or somewhat concerned about their ability to afford housing or rent. In April 2022, the prices of homes for rent and homes for purchase rose 7.4% year over year, the largest increase since 1983, Statistics Canada said in its report.

Canadians aged 15 to 39 are more concerned about these increases than those aged 40 and over, who have already bought and even paid for their homes.

These concerns have led to behavioral changes. In the previous six months, 39% of people aged 15 to 29 and 38% of people aged 30 to 39 said they had put off plans to change rental accommodation or buy a house.

Behavioral changes

To cope with inflation, half of respondents have looked for sales in the past six months. At the same time, 47% bought substitutes, brands or cheaper items and 45% postponed their purchase in response to rising prices, the survey reveals.

Nearly one-third of Canadians have also borrowed money from friends or relatives, taken on more debt, or used credit to meet day-to-day expenses.

Rising prices also affect Canadians’ ability to save. About 24% of Canadians said they had to dip into their savings to pay for their expenses. In addition, 29% said they were saving less and 19% said they were no longer able to do so each month.

Two main causes

The price increase is mainly caused by increased consumer demand and supply chain challenges. Last March, Statistics Canada revealed that businesses expected supply chain issues to continue in the short term and in some cases to worsen, particularly with respect to the acquisition of products or supplies, domestically and internationally, and to maintain inventory levels.

Methods: The data are drawn from the third survey in the Portrait of Canadian Society series, a brand new project of short online surveys of the same respondents over a period of one year. This was conducted from 19 April to 1er May 2022. These surveys use a probabilistic panel representative of the Canadian population aged 15 and over.

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