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One in three Atlantic Canadians can’t pay unplanned $500 expense, survey finds

Rising energy costs may be to blame, says analyst

2 min read
caption 38 per cent of residents have struggled to afford their “household financial needs” over the past 12 months
Brad Chandler

One in three Atlantic Canadians say they would be unable to pay an unexpected expense of $500, according to a new Statistics Canada survey.

It also finds 38 per cent of East Coast residents have struggled to afford their “household financial needs” over the past 12 months. 

Last year, the Canadian Consumer Price Index saw its biggest increase in over 40 years when it jumped 6.8 per cent from 2021. 

The index, which represents “changes in prices as experienced by Canadian consumers,” reported that “prices rose for all eight major components.” The largest increases were in “transportation, food and shelter.”

Increased financial concerns for Atlantic Canadians may be due to rising energy costs in the region, said Statistics Canada analyst Cait Brunton.

“Last year, Statistics Canada reported a 60 per cent increase in fuel prices, which could affect Atlantic Canadians more as fuel oil is used more often to heat their homes in that region,” she said. 

Across the country, Statistics Canada found 58 per cent of people aged 15-24 said they were “very concerned” about being able to pay for housing or rent.  

In its December 2022 rent report, revealed that Atlantic provinces saw a 32 per cent increase in annual growth in November — the highest in the country. 

Natasha Macmillan, director of everyday banking for the online financial technology company Ratehub, said that in the future, “we might start to see more people move or invest in homes outside of the city centres.”

Despite this, the Statistics Canada survey shows Atlantic Canadians are some of the least concerned with the increase in housing costs in the country, with 21 per cent saying “their decision to move” would not be “influenced by the higher cost of housing”. 

Statistics Canada said they expect Atlantic Canada “to continue leading the country in rent growth.”

The latest RBC post-holiday spending and saving insights poll, released on Feb. 15, revealed that 42 per cent of Atlantic Canadians feel like they “overspent during the holiday season.” The average amount: $436.

Roughly 67 per cent also said they struggled to afford gifts, while 76 per cent felt the “impact of inflation on their holiday spending.” 

Nationally, 46 per cent of Canadians aged 35 to 44 struggled financially over the past year, according to Statistics Canada, while only 25 per cent of Canadians aged 65 and over said they had difficulty meeting their financial needs. 

“With increased inflation with regards to food, transportation and shelter, I think there is a lot more worry in younger generations who might not have been privy to these kinds of conversations previously. They are probably more familiar now,” Macmillan said.


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Brad Chandler

Brad Chandler is an aspiring video journalist from Cape Breton, Nova Scotia with a special interest in sports reporting and broadcasting. He...

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