40% of Canadians are "overwhelmed" by what they owe

More than four in ten Canadian workers say they are financially stressed to the point that their work performance is suffering.

Of the 4,000 respondents to a new survey by the Canadian Payroll Association, housing costs including mortgage payments account for the largest concern with 40% saying they are “overwhelmed” with the amount they owe.

But household debt continues to rise and the survey shows that 1 in 3 respondents has increased their debt since 2018 and are still spending more than their net pay.

"The costs of financial stress on people, their families, businesses and the economy are staggering," explains Peter Tzanetakis, President of the Canadian Payroll Association. "Much like mental health, for Canadian businesses struggling to identify strategic advantages in a very competitive business environment, actively addressing the financial wellness of employees could provide a competitive edge and deliver bottom-line results."

The CPA poll shows that almost a quarter of Canadian workers spend almost 40 minutes a day worrying about their finances, resulting in a 8.1% loss in productivity in an average 8-hour work day.

Of the nearly 1 in 3 who admit having credit card debt, 38% say it will take them more than a year to pay off and 5% confess it will take a decade or more to tackle their credit cards.

Pay yourself first

The CPA says that financial stress can be helped by employers offering a ‘pay yourself first’ program where an amount – however small – is automatically deposited in a savings account by payroll.

"When it comes to financial wellness, working Canadians also need to be more proactive. Enrolling in a pay yourself first program is just one way," adds Doane. "Less than half of those we surveyed say they frequently make a budget and 30% admit they only keep a budget in their head. That's not good enough. When you make a budget, you're less likely to spend more than you earn and, as a consequence, feel the specter of mounting debt."

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