Canada News

Get the latest new in Candada


Most Albertans now say it’s difficult to meet monthly expenses, for first time in years of polling

In a recent poll commissioned by CBC News, 54 per cent of Albertans said it’s been difficult to meet their monthly household expenses — marking the first time that a majority of people have felt that way over six years of similar polling.

Pollster Janet Brown has been asking Albertans a variety of questions about their personal experiences and political preferences, as part of regular polling commissioned by CBC News since 2018.

“What really struck me about this poll were the economic numbers,” she said.

“I know everybody likes to look at the political stuff, but this is a huge change. I don’t usually see data change this dramatically year over year. This is not a flash in the pan. There has been a shift — an important shift — in the way people are feeling about the economy.”

Albertans’ political perspectives, by contrast, have not changed much over that same time.

Brown said the question about monthly expenses stands out against the rest of the poll results and represents a significant change over a relatively short period of time.

In this year’s poll, which was conducted over the first two weeks of May, 37 per cent of respondents described it as “somewhat difficult” to pay their bills, and 17 per cent said it’s “very difficult.”

Previously, the largest rate of “very difficult” responses came in March 2020, when 12 per cent of Albertans felt that way. 

“The other thing we do in the polls is we also look at the demographic information quite closely,” Brown said.

“So it’s not surprising that unemployed people, people with low incomes, are finding it difficult to meet their monthly expenses. But we saw some other interesting differences as well.”

Some of the sub-groups of respondents who were most likely to be finding it difficult to meet their monthly expenses included:

  • Visible minorities (71 per cent).
  • Those who think the economy is getting worse (69 per cent).
  • Those who identify as centre or left on the political spectrum (67 per cent).
  • 18- to 24-year-olds (67 per cent).
  • People living in rural central Alberta (64 per cent).
  • People with a high school education or less (63 per cent).
  • Parents with kids at home (63 per cent).
  • Edmontonians (58 per cent).
  • Women (57 per cent).

The differences by age are particularly stark, with a majority of those under 45 saying it’s difficult to pay their monthly bills and a majority of those aged 45 and over saying it’s easy.

Brown believes that’s related to the cost of housing, which has been rising rapidly in Alberta amid the recent population boom.

“The older you are, the more likely you are to have your house paid off or just about paid off,” she said.

“So age is definitely a predictor of how people feel, because the older you are, the more likely you are to have hard assets and be enjoying high house prices. The younger you are, the harder it is to get into the housing market.”

Buying a home ‘not really an option’

Wes Kyle counts himself as one of the luckier young people to be living and working in Calgary.

He graduated university with a degree in astrophysics in 2017 and remembers the struggle in trying to get established in a career at that time, when rents were cheaper and inflation was far lower.

“I was kind of sitting there being like, ‘What can I do? How do I market myself?’ And that was really, really hard and discouraging,” he said.

“I can’t imagine what it’s like for like a 20-year-old trying to get established [today].”

Kyle eventually found his way into a career as a data scientist working in securities regulation. These days, he’s among those who find it easy to meet their monthly expenses. But, Kyle said, he’s been largely “insulated” from some of the inflationary factors affecting so many other people — most notably, rent.

“I’m in a one-bedroom in Victoria Park and I got it at $1,400 a month, and then it just increased this year to $1,500, which is much lower than the market rates right now,” he said.

Even with a good career, Kyle said he’s “basically written off” the idea of buying a home in Calgary.

“I’ve just kind of decided that I’m not going to sweat that,” he said.

“It’s not really an option for me with house prices.”

Housing issues expected to persist

Mark Parsons, chief economist with ATB Financial, said inflation has started to ease across Canada, but Albertans are still being hit by increases in shelter costs due to some unique circumstances in this province.

“Alberta’s getting a population driver that other provinces aren’t — and that’s interprovincial migration. More and more people are coming here to Alberta from other provinces, and that’s putting extra pressure on the housing market,” he said.

“It’s rent and mortgage-interest costs that’s really adding to overall inflation right now.”

Brown noted there are two sides to the housing situation.

“Some people are really feeling the pinch; other people are quite enjoying the high price of their housing,” she said.

“And so the political challenge for government is: How do you solve that problem for people who are finding it difficult to find adequate housing, but without penalizing the seniors who are actually relying on all of the equity they have in their house to fund their retirement?”

Brown also said she’s cognizant that “people are struggling” is a common theme in the news but believes the latest polling results show something significant has changed among Albertans.

“Yes, there’s always been an undercurrent of people who were having trouble,” she said.

“But now, the people having trouble are in the majority. So this is new, because of just how drastically the numbers have changed in just a couple of short years.”

“I think that’s going to define our our politics going forward,” she said.

The CBC News random survey of 1,200 Albertans was conducted using a hybrid method between May 1 and May 15 by Edmonton-based Trend Research under the direction of Janet Brown Opinion Research. The sample is representative of regional, age and gender factors. The margin of error is +/- 2.8 percentage points, 19 times out of 20. For subsets, the margin of error is larger.

The survey used a hybrid methodology that involved contacting survey respondents by telephone and giving them the option of completing the survey at that time, at another more convenient time, or receiving an email link and completing the survey online. Trend Research contacted people using a random list of numbers, consisting of 40 per cent landlines and 60 per cent cellphone numbers. Telephone numbers were dialled up to five times at five different times of day before another telephone number was added to the sample. The response rate among valid numbers (i.e., residential and personal) was 11.7  per cent.

View original article here Source