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Ahead of Freeland's fiscal update, how are Canadians feeling about finances?

Finance Minister Chrystia Freeland will be releasing the federal fall economic update next week, promising an affordability-focused package, amid persisting inflation. Ahead of that revised look at Canada's books, a recent survey from Nanos Research suggests most Canadians aren't feeling positive about their finances.

According to Nanos' weekly consumer confidence tracking for Bloomberg News, when it comes to Canadians' personal finances, 48.4 per cent of respondents said they feel worse off than they were last year.

Just 12.7 per cent of Canadians surveyed said they consider themselves better off now, while 37.3 per cent said they're feeling no change in their economic situations in the last year.

"That's almost four times as likely to say that they're worse, than better off," said Nanos Research founder Nik Nanos in the latest episode of CTV News' Trend Line.

The most notable aspect to these figures according to Nanos, is that the number of Canadians who said they feel better off, "has not been this tepid, weak, low" since the outset of the COVID-19 pandemic in 2020 when many weren't sure about whether they'd be able to keep paying the bills.

"So that's really not good news for the incumbent government, because people are saying, 'hey, you know what, I'm worse off now than I was a year ago,'" Nanos said.

Similarly, the majority of respondents — 51.8 per cent – consider the Canadian economy to be weaker now, while just 11.6 per cent of those surveyed assessed this country's financial situation as stronger than this time last year.

Facing questions in recent days about what may or may not be included in the Nov. 21 fiscal snapshot, Freeland has declined to offer any hints or previews, but given the Liberals' recent focus on finding federal savings and a slowing economy, it is not expected to be a big-spending package.

"Our government absolutely recognizes the challenging macroeconomic environment," Freeland told reporters in Ottawa on Nov. 7. "Every single Canadian is facing real challenges when it comes to the cost of living. Every single Canadian is facing real challenges when it comes to housing."

"The macroeconomic environment with elevated interest rates and the impact they're having on growth is of course consequential for the federal government," Freeland said.

"What we are going to do in dealing with this challenging global macroeconomic environment is what we have always done, which is work really hard to find a balance between the necessary and essential investments in Canadians… and at the same time, to maintain the fiscal responsibility which is foundational for Canada."

Setting up his expectations for the fall economic update, NDP Leader Jagmeet Singh told reporters in Toronto on Wednesday that he wants the statement to focus on housing and food costs.

"We want to see investments to make housing more affordable, not just any old housing. We need homes that are affordable," Singh said. "We also need action to bring down the price of groceries."

For months, Conservative Leader Pierre Poilievre has been calling on Freeland to put an end to Liberal "inflationary spending," and present a plan to get the federal budget back to balance, something the last budget projected wouldn't be happening before 2028 at the earliest.

Speaking to what specifically he wants to see out of Tuesday's fiscal update, Poilievre told reporters on Friday he wants the Liberals to squash plans to increase the carbon tax, bring down interest rates and inflation by balancing the budget, and adopt his proposal to "build homes, not bureaucracy." 

Watch the full episode of Trend Line in our video player at the top of this article. You can also listen in our audio player below, or wherever you get your podcasts. The next episode comes out Wednesday, Nov. 29.

Methodology: Random telephone survey (land- and cell-lines) with 1,097 Canadian consumers aged 18 years and over, ending Nov. 10, 2023. The data is based on a four-week rolling average where each week the oldest group of 250 interviews is dropped and a new group of 250 is added. A random survey of 1,097 Canadian consumers is accurate 3.0 percentage points, plus or minus, 19 times out of 20.



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