As spending season begins, Canadians have a debt problem

By Staff | November 23, 2017 | Last updated on November 23, 2017
2 min read

A majority of Canadians say they know how to manage debt, says a Manulife Bank survey. Even better, they’re committed to being free of it.

But less than one-third of debt holders (31%) met their goals for reducing what they owe in the past year, says the survey–and Black Friday will soon launch the holiday spending season.

There are gaps “between what Canadians say they know about managing debt, their good intentions, and their ability to do something about it,” said Rick Lunny, Manulife Bank president and CEO, in a release.

There’s a silver lining: when asked about satisfaction with their overall financial health, the Canadians surveyed who work with financial advisors (59%) were more satisfied than those who don’t (36%). Overall, 47% of respondents were satisfied with their finances.


The survey also found that Canadians aren’t particularly good at talking about debt. Almost one-quarter (24%) said they’re embarrassed to discuss how much debt they have, while nearly 40% didn’t know whom to talk to about debt management. A majority (55%) said they seldom discuss debt with friends or family.

Here are other key findings:

• More than half of Canadians claim good knowledge of debt management (54%), but only (41%) are comfortable with their debt • Only one in six Canadians believe their bank helps them pay down debt (16%) and puts their needs first (17%) • 53% believe financial challenges take a toll on mental or emotional health, and 34% on physical health • Homeowners (60%) are more likely than renters (42%) to say they have good knowledge of debt management. Homeowners also indicated different financial priorities than renters: they focus more on savings and investments rather than preparing for unexpected expenses or interruptions of income. More than half (56%) of homeowners said the interest rate was the key factor in choosing a mortgage, compared with 11% who said the ability to pay down their mortgage as fast as possible was most important.

About the survey: The Manulife Bank of Canada poll surveyed 2,409 Canadian homeowners and renters in all provinces. They were between the ages of 20 and 69, and had household incomes of more than $40,000. The survey was conducted online by The Nielsen Company from Oct. 11 to 23, 2017. staff


The staff of have been covering news for financial advisors since 1998.