Canadians ‘Overwhelmingly’ Worried About Ongoing Housing Crisis, Household Finances: Poll

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More than two-thirds of Canadians are “overwhelmingly concerned” about the housing crisis and expect to see affordability and accessibility become worse this year, according to a new survey.

The poll from Abacus Data said that 68 percent of respondents were not optimistic that the country’s ongoing housing crisis would improve. Twenty-three percent believed housing issues would remain the same, while only 10 percent predicted improvement.

But housing is not the only concern on the minds of Canadians: finances and government policies were also labelled as causes for unease among the majority of respondents.

Seventy-one percent of Canadians said their household debt levels are increasing, causing “financial strain and instability,” while nearly two-thirds of those polled lack confidence in the government and the country’s economic stability.

“The results reveal widespread concerns regarding housing affordability, financial stability, and trust in governance, emphasizing the necessity for comprehensive policy measures to address these issues and inspire hope for a brighter and more promising future for all citizens,” Eddie Sheppard, Abacus Data vice president of insights, said in a blog post.

“This sentiment not only reflects the adversities Canadians face but also signals a growing disillusionment with the prospects for improvement.”

Housing

Seventy-four percent of Canadians predicted the housing market would become more unaffordable and less accessible for first-time homebuyers, while 20 percent said it would be “somewhat affordable but with difficulties,” the poll found. Only 5 percent expressed optimism about the future for first-time buyers.

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More than half of prospective first-time homebuyers were pessimistic about their chances of home ownership or have abandoned the idea altogether, the poll showed. That pessimism rose from 48 percent last September to 57 percent currently.

“Government (at all levels) must prioritize initiatives and policies aimed at bolstering housing affordability, which may involve expanding housing supply, implementing rent controls, and providing financial assistance to prospective buyers,” Mr. Sheppard said.

Finances

A “troubling pattern” also emerged among Canadians’ view of their financial security, said Mr. Sheppard, with 52 percent of the population expressing feelings of personal financial insecurity and 33 percent admitting to having concerns despite considering their finances adequate.

Outlook for the future was grim with most respondents skeptical about economic recovery in 2024. Sixty-five percent of Canadians said they expected a slow and uncertain economic path with 69 percent saying inflation and the cost of living will continue to rise, increasing financial strain.

Fifty-three percent of respondents said social and economic equality would grow in the future while 32 percent believed it would remain the same.

Mr. Sheppard said the results overall showed “widespread pessimism and uncertainty” about both individual and the national economic outlook.

“Policymakers should address economic stability, inflation control, and affordability concerns to restore confidence,” he said. “Measures aimed at promoting economic growth, stabilizing prices, and supporting households amidst rising living costs may be necessary to address these challenges effectively.”

Government Stability

Public confidence in government policies and economic stability was “fragile” at 61 percent, according to the poll, with many Canadians expressing concerns about “the state of governance.”

Even more—70 percent—considered global economic conditions and geopolitical risks to be unstable.

Prioritizing transparency and accountability would go a long way toward easing the public’s concerns, Mr. Sheppard said. He also described “proactive engagement” with global partners to foster international cooperation as “essential for safeguarding Canada’s economic interests in an increasingly uncertain global landscape.”

In light of the survey results, he said, the government must “demonstrate its commitment to tackling these issues by offering viable solutions that provide relief to Canadians and restore hope for a brighter future.”

The survey was conducted with 1,500 Canadian adults between Feb. 28 and March 6.

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