Video: Canadians more worried over high prices than their health or relationships, study finds

CTV News reports: Canadians more worried over high prices than their health or relationships, study finds

A new study has found that a lot of Canadians — four in 10 — are feeling a lot of stress right now about the same thing: the price of, well, almost everything.

“If you pay $7 for a pound of butter, how could you live?” said one Montrealer, Julie Beaudoin, about the search for reasonably priced groceries. The difference from a year ago, she says, is “unbelievable.”

As most people have noticed, most food has gotten pricier, from produce to bread to milk, and especially meat. The new study by the group Option Consommateurs found that Canadians are more stressed about prices than about their health, work or relationships.

“Yes, of course I’m stressed about money, because I have to pay many bills,” said Beaudoin.

What makes this inflation cycle so hard, the group says, is that the inflation extends to just about all products, making it very hard to find savings or workarounds. For people who were living before without much of a financial cushion, this creates hard choices. On top of that, pandemic adjustments have ended, for the most part, even though the economy has not returned to normal.

“During the pandemic, there were subsidies that were provided to consumers to help them going through the pandemic, but a lot of those have stopped,” said Sylvie de Bellefeuille of Option Consommateurs.

Grocery store manager Jacques Lecavalier said that as a retailer, he’s seen his customers’ behaviour clearly changing, but that his hands are also more tied than they were. Almost everyone who comes into the store is trying to buy items on sale, he said.

“Chicken now is $20 a kilo. Last year it was about 14 and we could make specials — now we can’t make specials,” he said.

The spinoff effects, however, will take longer to be seen. Higher prices coupled with rising interest rates lead bankruptcy trustees to believe they’ll soon see an increase in insolvencies, they say.

“You’ve got to pay off your debts and you’ve got to focus on that, but you have to put money aside because if something should happen, you do need that emergency fund,” said Ronald Gagnon of BDO Canada. Financial planners agree that right now, more than ever, people need to make a budget and stick to it.

“No one wants to be told what the can spend their money on — I’m not going to say you can’t have that coffee or that dinner,” said financial planner Kelly Ho.

But she does encourage her clients to set aside money for the essential bills, such as rent, hydro and food. And, at least right now, try to act wisely with the rest.

“Instead of dictating what they can spend their money on, it’s ‘Here’s what you have to spend. You decide what’s most important to you,'” she explained.

“What I’ve found is when Canadians feel they have that choice and they can control what they spend their money on, definitely the stress level goes down.”

Finding a way simply to manage the worries is important, though, since the prices are not likely to come down anytime soon.

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Rob Lurie – CTV News Montreal Videojournalist