International Day for the Eradication of Poverty

October 17, 2023 •  By Cristina Roque
Jeune homme avec sac à dos

Financial anxiety is still affecting Quebeckers with few signs of improvement 

Debt repayment is now the top concern for people with severe or extreme anxiety levels  

Montreal, October 17, 2023 — Economic anxiety among Quebeckers has remained at significant levels since the spring, a trend that shows few signs of improving. The overall financial anxiety index score has stayed steady at 39.1. Currently, 85% of the population is experiencing different degrees of anxiety, with 44% facing significant levels (moderate to extreme). Debt repayment is the main concern of people with severe or extreme anxiety, even ahead of housing and food costs.  

These are the results of Centraide of Greater Montreal’s third financial anxiety index conducted in collaboration with Leger. This survey is carried out twice a year to understand Quebeckers’ concerns about their financial situation and track these concerns over time. The goal is for Centraide to identify the groups of people most affected by financial anxiety to provide them with better support.        

Significant levels of financial anxiety are more common among certain groups, such as racialized people (60%), parents (58%), young people aged 18 to 34 (54%), people with a functional impairment (51%), women (51%), people without post-secondary education (50%), and people living on a low income (49%). 

“Our social fabric is under great strain due to factors such as the housing crisis, increased food costs, and mental distress,” said Claude Pinard, President and Executive Director of Centraide of Greater Montreal. “A significant number of people are experiencing financial anxiety because they are struggling to make ends meet. Greater Montreal is home to a high percentage of Quebeckers in a situation of poverty and vulnerability. They are feeling great stress, while the community sector that helps them is facing enormous challenges.”  

“Although the average score for the financial anxiety index has stayed stable, the situation is still worrying and not getting better over time,” said Christian Bourque, Executive Vice-President at Léger. “More households, or 54%, are expecting an increase in housing costs in the coming months. This is an increase of 10 percentage points since April. Quebeckers’ financial uncertainty is not trending toward optimism either, as one in ten people considers themselves in a bad financial situation. This is like a grey cloud that just won’t go away.” 

Costs for basic needs are a top concern 

The cost of food, housing and child care top Quebeckers’ list of concerns. Furthermore, 7 out of 10 parents said they were worried about costs for the start of the school year. The groups proportionally more likely to be highly concerned about essential expenses include low-income households (65%), parents (60%), and immigrants (58%). 

Another fear of not being able to buy a home is shared by 61% of young people aged 18 to 34. As a whole, Quebeckers are also afraid of having to deal with unexpected expenses (46%), running out of money during retirement (44%), or losing their job in the next six months (20%).  

Solutions to cope with financial anxiety 

Centraide’s support for community agencies is crucial to maintaining an essential social safety net for people on a low income and individuals experiencing various degrees of financial anxiety. 

These agencies provide services in mental health (listening, assistance and referrals), financial literacy (workshops on budgeting, spending habits, debt, credit), housing (rights advocacy and support), and food security (food donations, collective gardens, group purchases, community grocery stores, collective kitchens). 

Centraide’s financial anxiety index 

The index is based on a survey conducted online using the LEO platform between August 21 and September 1, 2023 among a sample of 2,003 Quebeckers aged 18 and over. The maximum margin of error for a sample of the same size is +/-2.19%, 19 times out of 20.  

Members of the public can download the report at 

About Centraide of Greater Montreal    

A true agent of change, Centraide of Greater Montreal is a public foundation whose mission is to bring people together and take action for an inclusive and poverty-free Greater Montreal. To achieve this goal, it supports a network of 375 community agencies and projects in Laval, in Montreal and on the South Shore that improve the living conditions of vulnerable people. Centraide works with the Greater Montreal population and with communities, businesses, institutions and philanthropic organizations. Its history dates back 50 years, when five charities merged into one entity. This year, Centraide invested $61.8 million in the community, which represents over 86% of the money raised from its annual campaign. Every year, nearly 800,000 people benefit from the help of the agencies that it supports.