(Montreal) Quebecers continue to worry about their financial health, in particular because of the increase in the price of groceries and rents, reveals the most recent measurement of the financial anxiety index of Centraide of Greater Montreal.

While the proportion (86%) of people claiming to feel financial stress since November is barely 1% higher than the previous survey, carried out in November, the level of anxiety is more pronounced. Nearly half of respondents surveyed (44%) are experiencing moderate to extreme anxiety, a 2% gain from previous months.

“It’s not ringing, comments Christian Bourque, executive vice-president at Léger. When we talk about 86% of Quebecers, it’s practically everyone or someone we know. We are talking here about a major social phenomenon”.

Single-parent families, people with low incomes, people without a high school diploma, individuals with functional limitations, women, people of color and newcomers are those who feel the most stress regarding their abilities. financial resources, according to the data provided by Centraide.

“The survey shows us an almost direct relationship between people’s vulnerability factors and suffering from financial anxiety,” notes Mr. Bourque.

“ Competition in basic needs ”

Food is the main concern of Quebecers, the survey tells us, while one respondent in five (22%) has experienced at least one episode of food insecurity in recent months. A higher rate than before the pandemic, underlines the organization and which is observed in the various food aid resources.

At the Nutrition and Community Action Service (SNAC), located in the Ahunstic district of Montreal, traffic jumped from some 1,100 families helped to 1,523.

“We have 580 new families this year, which represent 38% of our total clientele”, illustrates director Chantal Comtois.

The profile of this clientele has changed, she adds. “Previously, 90% of our beneficiaries lived on social assistance. Now they make up 48% of our clientele, but that’s not because there are fewer of them; it’s that our other types of customers have [gained more weight in the balance]”, nuances the director.

Having the means to afford housing ranks second in the concerns of respondents, half of whom believe that the price of rents will continue to rise in the coming months. In addition, 23% of individuals surveyed fear not being able to pay their housing expenses.

“ Nearly one out of two Quebecers thinks that their household expenses for housing will continue to increase over the coming months ”, mentions Claude Pinard, President and CEO of Centraide of Greater Montreal.

Many households feel caught up in inflation. “What we see as a situation is that people say that their income has increased, but not enough to cover all the new expenses,” notes Mr. Pinard.

“ It’s a wheel that turns, as if there were competition in basic needs ”, he adds.

Many families are now reduced to investing more than 50% of their liquid assets in housing, which leads to heartbreaking choices. “Those who spend a lot on housing have less for the rest, continues the director, it leads to difficult choices: we cut a meal here and there, the lunch box is less stocked, we cut in transport or in leisure … »

Another 20% of Quebecers are forced to cut their savings when they worry about not having saved enough for their retirement. An impact of the situation that Mr. Pinard considers “ pernicious ”.

A more or less bright future

Quebecers see themselves in a worse financial position than six months ago, when they were surveyed for the first time.

Barely 13% of respondents believe that Quebec’s economic outlook will improve by the end of the year; 47% expect them to stay the same and 33% fear they will deteriorate.

mental health effects

Experiencing financial anxiety affects people’s mental health. Difficulty concentrating at work or school, as well as sleep disturbances were identified by three out of ten respondents as symptoms caused by stress.

Nearly half of Quebecers (48%) admitted to feeling anxious when thinking about their finances; 33% of thoughtful people would rather not think about it. This avoidance strategy is observed more among young adults aged 18 to 34, women and heads of households.

In 26% of households, financial stress impacted family members, causing conflict or tension.

According to Christian Bourque, the rapid succession of the health crisis and the increase in inflation has left Quebecers no chance. “This is the first time that we have suffered two anxiety attacks in quick succession without having a short break in between. Mentally, Quebecers haven’t had any rest,” he said.

The financial anxiety index, measured twice a year by the Léger survey firm for Centraide of Greater Montreal. It stems from an online survey conducted on the LEO platform between February 17 and March 2, to which 2,104 Quebec adults responded. This index, which measures the state of anxiety of Quebecers regarding their financial situation, their financial literacy and their concerns about various financial aspects, will be renewed until 2025.


This dispatch was produced with the financial assistance of the Meta Exchange and La Presse Canadienne for the news.