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Albertans' concern for their debt reaches 'all-time high': survey


Albertans are the most concerned about being able to pay their debt compared to other provinces, a study release on Monday shows.

According to the MNP Consumer Debt Index for Q2, 72 per cent of Albertans, "an all-time high," are worried about their debt due to inflation and high interest rates.

Sixty per cent of Albertans surveyed said they will be in "financial trouble" if interest rates grow more.

“The increasing strain of household bills and food prices has heightened their financial anxiety, further compounded by the escalating interest costs, especially for those who were already saddled with mounting consumer debt," said Donna Carson, a licensed insolvency trustee at MNP LTD.

More than half of Albertans, 51 per cent, said they are $200 or less away from not being able to cover their financial obligations.

On average, survey participants reported an increase of $274 in their weekly essential items compared to last year — the highest amount in Canada.

“While some households have been diligently curbing their discretionary spending, there are others who have reached a point where they simply can’t cut back on anything more," Carson said. "Despite having switched to the cheapest options at the grocery store, reduced their entertainment costs, and used greater caution with their spending, they still find themselves struggling to pay for essential expenses like their mortgage or rent and putting food on the table."

A third of Albertans said they don't make enough money to cover their bills and debt, according to MNP.

An Edmonton woman with a fixed income told CTV News her house is paid off but she hunts for sales to save some money.

"With the increases in food and gas and everything else, there's no luxuries anymore. You pay for what you have to and there's no spare," Linda Lockwood said.

In addition to hurting your pocket, debt can also affect mental health and relationships, an expert told CTV News.

"It's very stressful when you're dealing with debt levels and the challenges in terms of being able to make your payments, or being able to just afford the basics," said Michelle Statz, a Bromwich & Smith Inc. licenced insolvency trustee.

Statz encouraged people with debt to treat it much like a mental illness, and come forward, talk about it and seek professional help.

Ipsos sampled 2,000 adult Canadians between June 1-6. The poll is accurate to within ±2.5 percentage points, 19 times out of 20, the report said.

With files from CTV News Edmonton's Miriam Valdes-Carletti Top Stories

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