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One in four Canadians would be unable to afford a sudden expense of $500: StatCan


A quarter of Canadians say they would be unable to cover an unexpected expense of $500, according to new data from StatCan.

Nearly half—44 per cent—also said they were very concerned about their ability to afford housing or rent.

These fears were particularly pronounced among younger Canadians, who were much more likely to report housing or rent concerns or an inability to purchase a home or continue living where they wanted to due to rising costs.

StatCan released a report on Monday detailing the results of the Canadian Social Survey - Quality of Life and Cost of Living, a national survey that collected data from mid-October to early December 2022.

One third of all respondents said they had experienced difficulty in the previous 12 months in meeting their financial needs.

A slightly larger percentage of women reported that they wouldn’t be able to cover a sudden $500 expense, at 29 per cent, compared to 24 per cent of men.

In 2022, Canada saw the largest jump in the consumer price index in a single year since 1982, according to StatCan. Between 2021 and 2022, there was an increase of 6.8 per cent to the CPI, with prices rising across all categories. The largest price increases were in transportation, food and shelter, with a 10.6 per cent, 8.9 per cent and 6.9 per cent increase to prices, respectively, in the three categories.


Younger Canadians were the age group experiencing the most anxiety over their finances, with 46 per cent of those aged 35-44 reporting difficulty in the last 12 months.

Canadians aged 65 years and older had the lowest percentage reporting this difficulty at 25 per cent.

Only 19 per cent of those aged 65 and older said they wouldn’t be able to cover a sudden $500 expense, compared to 35 per cent of people aged 35-44 years.

Questions related to housing emphasized this generational gap.

More than half of those aged 15-24 years (58 per cent) said that they were “very concerned” about their ability to afford housing or rent, followed by 56 per cent of those aged 25-34 years.

In contrast, those aged 65 years and older reported the least concern for affording housing or rent at 27 per cent.

Around 44 per cent of Canadians aged 25-34 years also reported that rising prices either kept them from purchasing a home they wanted, made them move sooner than they wanted or forced them to downsize in some way to either a more affordable home or a more affordable rental situation.

Less than 15 per cent of Canadians aged 45 years and older reported these problems.

However, optimism persists among younger Canadians despite higher concerns about their ability to afford housing or other costs of living. Canadians aged 25-34 had the highest level of optimism about their finances improving, with 37 per cent stating they believed it would improve in one year.

This optimism dropped as ages increased, with only seven per cent of those aged 65 and older believing that there might be a change in their finances in one year.


The data shows that certain racial groups in Canada are experiencing more anxiety relating to finances, particularly when it comes to housing.

Around 74 per cent of Black Canadians reported being very concerned with the price of housing, as well as 65 per cent of South Asian Canadians surveyed.

Non-racialized Canadians were the least likely, at 38 per cent, to report concern over housing prices, and only 21 per cent reported that rising prices had influenced their decision to move in the past six months, compared to 40-48 per cent of Filipino, South Asian and Black survey participants.

However, racialized Canadians also reported a higher belief that their financial situation might improve in a year, with one quarter reporting this believe compared to 19 per cent of non-racialized Canadians.


Although the cost of living has skyrocketed across the country, it has climbed higher in some regions than in others, with consumer prices increasing at a greater rate in 2022 in Prince Edward Island and Manitoba, according to StatCan.

This was reflected in Canadians’ responses to the fall survey, with a higher percentage of people in Atlantic Canada and the Prairies (38 per cent) reporting difficulty meeting their financial needs within the last 12 months compared to Quebec, the province with the lowest percentage reporting difficulty at 29 per cent.

One third of respondents in Atlantic Canada said they wouldn’t be able to handle an unexpected $500 expense, while only 19 per cent of respondents from British Columbia answered the same.

However, housing concerns didn’t follow the same pattern. Canadians in Atlantic Canada and the Prairies were the least concerned with rising housing prices, with just 39 per cent each stating they were concerned about it.

British Columbia and Ontario were far more concerned, with nearly half of respondents—46 per cent and 47 per cent, respectively—reporting being very concerned with affording rent or housing.

More than a quarter of British Columbia and Ontario respondents (28 per cent each) reported that they had wanted to move but did not or moved sooner than planned due to rising housing prices. Top Stories

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