Canadians Struggle With Rising Cost of Living Amid Highest Inflation Rate in Decade: Poll

June 19, 2021 Updated: June 22, 2021

While the end of the COVID-19 pandemic is within sight, a new survey has found that Canadians are already struggling with a side-effect of the crisis—rising prices.

Conducted by the Angus Reid Institute (ARI), the poll found that Canadians are already feeling the heat coping with the rising cost of living in their daily lives, and expect things to get worse in the coming months.

More than nine in 10 Canadians say it has become more expensive for them to buy groceries (92 percent), fill their tank with gas (93 percent), buy a new home (95 percent), or renovate their home (96 percent) over the past six months. As for those who rent, more than half say their monthly rent has increased.

Looking toward the future, over eight in 10 of the respondents believe the price of groceries and gas will continue to go up in the next six months. Buying a new car will be a challenge as 70 percent foresee an upward price trend there as well.

The survey findings are in line with Statistics Canada’s release on June 16 of the consumer price index (CPI), which rose 3.6 percent from May 2020—the largest yearly increase in a decade. CPI represents the changes in prices Canadian consumers experience over time.

It showed that shelter prices rose 4.2 percent year over year in May. Homeowners’ replacement cost index, which is linked to the price of new homes, increased at the fastest pace since 1987 at 11.3 percent. Prices for passenger vehicles also spiked 5 percent with the largest yearly gain in almost five years, partly due to a shortage of semiconductor chips globally.

Lockdowns and changing health orders have also caused significant job losses across Canada. Statistics Canada reported the unemployment rate in May at 8.2 percent nationwide, with 68,000 jobs slashed from the labour market between April and May.

The ARI survey indicates that 34 percent of Canadians think they are financially worse off than last year, compared to 20 percent who say they fare better.

Regionally, the survey found that the worst economic effects are being felt in Alberta and Saskatchewan, where the oil and gas sector suffered heavy blows from a price war between Saudi Arabia and Russia that drove oil prices to a new low prior to the pandemic, as well as slow demand during the pandemic and the cancellation of the Keystone XL pipeline.

More than four in 10 residents in Alberta and Saskatchewan say they are worse off compared to 12 months ago. Twenty-nine percent of Albertans believe things will be worse a year from now. This view rises to 32 percent for Saskatchewan respondents.

In terms of income, Canadians who earn less than $25,000 a year are twice as likely to say they are worse off compared to last year than those who earn more than $150,000 annually.

ARI surveyed 4,948 Canadians adults from June 2 to June 7 with a margin of error of plus or minus 2.0 percentage points, 19 times out of 20.