Almost half of Canadians report finding it difficult to feed their families amid spiraling inflation: a survey

A new survey finds that nearly half of Canadians say they find it difficult or extremely difficult to feed their families amid spiraling inflation that has led to soaring grocery bills.

The Angus Reed Institute surveyed 1992 Canadian adults who were members of the Angus Reed Forum about their family’s finances and what they believed the Bank of Canada should do in response to inflation, which is now at a 31-year high.

It found that 49 percent of respondents now reported finding it difficult or very difficult to feed their families due to an 8.7 percent year-on-year increase in food prices in March.

That number is just up from 36 percent the last time Angus Reed conducted a similar survey in April 2019.

Canadians also seem to have an increasingly pessimistic view of their finances.

The survey found that 36 percent of respondents reported being in a worse financial position than they were a year ago, compared to 24 percent of those who said their financial situation had improved over the past 12 months. Another 39 percent said their finances are comparable, despite the higher cost of living.

The proportion of respondents who thought their financial situation would be worse a year from now (28 percent) also exceeded those who thought it would get better (24 percent). While a significant number of respondents still believe their financial situation will be about the same (38 per cent), Angus Reed said the number of Canadians who expect their financial situation to deteriorate represents the “peak of the financial gloom for Canadians” since 2010.

The results were particularly evident among those who said they were “struggling” with the cost of living.

Among that group, 63 percent said they expect their financial situation to be worse a year from now, and only 6 percent expect their situation to improve.

“At this point, you know, jobs are plentiful. What’s the challenge, of course, is people being able to access disposable income the way they have compared to years ago. So you’re feeling stressed because your bill for your purchases is now more or you’re swallowing up at the cost of a liter of gas, All of these things add up to the possibility of higher mortgage rates down the road or higher credit card debt rates down the road,” Angus Reed Institute President Shachi Kurl told CP24 Tuesday afternoon. “All of this represents a period of real uncertainty.”

What should the Bank of Canada do?

While the Angus Read survey found that a large proportion of respondents struggle with the cost of living, there was little consensus on the course of action the Bank of Canada should take as it aims to control inflation.

However, the majority of respondents (45 percent) in the Angus Read survey said they would like to see the bank’s prime lending rate at 1 percent for now, so that it becomes clear how the recent several hikes will affect inflation. Twenty-seven percent of respondents said they would like to see the bank continue to raise interest rates to fight inflation, while 13 percent said they would like to see lower rates to protect housing and investment markets. Another 15 percent were unsure of the best course of action.

Support for rate increases was higher among households with annual incomes between $100,000 and $150,000 (34 percent) but significantly lower among low-income families (16 percent).

There was also a higher appetite for the price increase among the youngest participants, aged 18-34.

Nearly 34 percent of that group said they would support further increases, compared to just 24 percent of top Canadians (55 and older).

“Admittedly, the Bank of Canada does not make decisions based on public opinion. But we see nearly half of Canadians saying look, if it were up to them, they would have the Bank of Canada standing by, maintaining the status quo for now, rather than raising rates The benefit is more,” Corle said. “If you’re already someone who’s feeling stressed by your grocery bill, fuel bill, and everyday cost of living, you’re probably looking at a mortgage that’s due next year, in the next couple of years and your eyes widen, saying what’s that going to cost me?”

The survey was conducted May 4-6 on a representative sample of Canadian adults who are members of the Angus Reid Forum.

The researcher says that a probability sample of this size will typically carry a 2.5 percentage point margin of error, 19 times out of 20.

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