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Over half of Canadians live paycheque to paycheque, carry credit card debt

And almost 40 per cent have no retirement savings
empty wallet
The annual BDO Affordability Index finds that over half of Canadians are living paycheque to paycheque. Photo iStock

The annual BDO Affordability Index finds that over half of Canadians are living paycheque to paycheque and carry the burden of credit card debt.

Conducted by Angus Reid in partnership with BDO Canada Limited, a poll of 2,047 Canadians shows that 53 per cent continue to live paycheque to paycheque, and that debt remains overwhelming for 25 per cent. In addition, a quarter of Canadians, or 27 per cent, don’t have enough to meet their needs, while less than half, or 42 per cent, don’t have enough to meet their wants.

The poll found that 57 per cent of Canadians carry credit card debt, which is up from 53 per cent in 2018. For 31 per cent of Canadians, “debt is increasing due to income constraints.” In addition, three-in-ten Canadians have delayed paying off their credit card balances while four-in-ten have a non-mortgage debt load of over $20,000.

“Affordability and debt challenges continue to weigh on Canadians, and what our Affordability Index reveals is that, over time, the cumulative effects have a significant impact on financial goals,” says Doug Jones, president of BDO Canada’s Financial Recovery Services practice.

“However, for people with unmanageable debt, a Licensed Insolvency Trustee can help them understand their options and become more financially prepared for the future.”

The study also found that 39 per cent of Canadians have no retirement savings, including 32 per cent of boomers and seniors. Almost four-in-10 Gen Xers have no retirement savings, and they continue to be the most indebted generation.

According to the study, women face more affordability challenges in Canada than men:

“Women are more likely to have growing debt due to lack of income (35 per cent of women versus 28 per cent of men), and are more likely to struggle to save for a major purchase (75 per cent women versus 70 per cent men), afford grocery bills (33 per cent women versus 24 per cent men) and take a vacation (70 per cent women versus 63 per cent men).”

The study also found that women faced more affordability challenges in 2019 than in 2018 and that a growing number live paycheque to paycheque. More women also admit to having no retirement savings.

In July, the Canadian Centre for Policy Alternatives released a rental housing wage report for cities across Canada and Vancouver was ranked the least affordable. The report found that a full-time worker in Vancouver would need to make $35.43 per hour to afford an average-priced two-bedroom apartment. In order to afford an average-priced one-bedroom apartment, a minimum wage earning Vancouverite would have to work a whopping 84-hour work week.

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