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From Angus Reid Institute

Cost-of-living: Majority of Canadians making tough decisions

Two-in-five say they’ve taken money from savings or other accounts that they generally try to avoid

April 6, 2023 – More than a year into a stubborn and persistent cost-of-living crisis, a considerable number of Canadians have progressed from belt-tightening on spending to drawing on existing savings to make ends meet.

The latest data from the non-profit Angus Reid Institute finds two-thirds of Canadians reporting cutting back on discretionary spending in recent months – a number 14-points higher than reported around this time last year.

However, for millions, penny-pinching doesn’t go far enough. Two-in-five (40%) say recent challenges have forced them to draw money from accounts that they try not to touch, and one-in-three (35%) say they deferred a contribution to their RRSP or TFSA.

For one-in-ten the situation has been so difficult they’re either borrowing from friends and family (13%), selling assets (11%), or seeking out a bank loan (8%).

Little wonder then, that fully one-in-three (34%) Canadians say they’re in either “bad” or “terrible” shape financially. This represents a six-point increase from last July. Those individuals continue to struggle with food costs, for which inflation remains significantly higher at approximately 10 per cent. Among those who say they are in “terrible shape” financially, nine-in-ten (94%) say it is difficult to feed their household. Four-in-five (80%) say this among the group who are in self-described “bad shape”.

The federal government recently tabled a budget including policy measures, such as one-time grocery rebate, designed to alleviate the financial pressure that many are individuals and households are feeling.

And while these moves may provide some relief to some households, persistent challenges remain, perhaps exacerbated for nearly half of Canadian workers (45%) who say they have not received additional compensation from their employer over the past 12 months.

Percentage who have done each of the following recently to cope with rising cost of living (All Respondents, n=1,600)

More Key Findings


The percentage of Canadians saying they deferred contributing to an RRSP or TFSA recently has risen from 22 per cent in February 2022, to 26 per cent last September, to 35 per cent in this most recent data.


Part-time workers are much less likely to have received additional compensation over the past year (35%) compared to those who work full-time (58%).

Poor shape

More than half of Canadians whose household income is lower than $50,000 per year (54%) say they are in poor or terrible financial shape. The number saying this drops to one-third (33%) for household incomes between $50,000 and $99,999, and one-in-five (21%) for those in households earning $100,000 or more.

Survey Methodology

The Angus Reid Institute conducted an online survey from March 30-31, 2023, among a representative randomized sample of 1,600 Canadian adults who are members of Angus Reid Forum. For comparison purposes only, a probability sample of this size would carry a margin of error of +/- 2 percentage points, 19 times out of 20. Discrepancies in or between totals are due to rounding. The survey was self-commissioned and paid for by ARI.

For detailed results by age, gender, region, education, and other demographics, click here.

For detailed results by self-described financial state, click here.

To read the full report, including detailed tables and methodology, click here

To read the questionnaire in English and French, click here.

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From the Angus Reid Institute, Canada’s non-profit foundation committed to independent research.

For detailed breakdown of the results, visit

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