Canadians’ financial well-being on the decline: survey

The financial well-being of Canadians has declined over the last year, according to a new survey by Morneau Shepell Ltd.

It rated Canadians’ overall financial health as of January 2021 at -2.8, indicating a decline from the previous year. Women reported a lower score (-5.1) than men (-0.6), with male respondents reporting improvement in some areas. The survey found this disparity across all indicators of financial well-being, particularly financial knowledge (-5.6 for women versus +1.9 for men) and impacts on work productivity (-2.9 for women compared to -1.7 for men).

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In a press release, Idan Shlesinger, president of retirement solutions and executive vice-president at Morneau Shepell, said employers are typically unaware of the amount of diversity in financial well-being across their teams. “People with the same salary could have vastly different levels of knowledge, different financial behaviours and very different perceptions of their financial situations. It’s clear that financial well-being impacts mental health and work productivity, but a one-size-fits-all approach won’t improve it. Rather, employer-based solutions need the flexibility to adapt to the diversity in situations and priorities that exists within populations.”

The survey also found 27 per cent of respondents are doing worse in terms of their financial situation since the beginning of the pandemic last March, compared to 15 per cent who indicated they’re doing better. One in five individuals (21 per cent) reported increased financial concern than when compared to the prior three months. As a result, 14 per cent of respondents said they’re becoming more financially educated, while 11 per cent prioritized financial-contingency planning.

And while the lowest scores were reported by individuals who experienced reduced salaries (-18) and fewer hours (-10.6) compared to the previous month, the scores of currently-unemployed respondents were affected less (-4.6), potentially as a result of government support or reduced expenses, according to the release.

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