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39 per cent of Canadians have no financial plan once pandemic supports end: survey

Last Updated Nov 1, 2020 at 9:54 pm EST

A new Angus-Reid study says 39 per cent of those polled say they don’t know what they’re going to do when pandemic assistance measures like the Canadian Emergency Response Benefit (CERB) come to an end.

The firm polled 1,500 Canadians and was commissioned by the non-profit credit counselling service, Credit Canada.

“A lot of them said, ‘I’m ok right now and I’ll cross that bridge when I get there,’” said Keith Emery, Co-CEO of Credit Canada. “We really wanted to try and wake Canadians up to say you need to get a plan now.”

Many Canadians receiving assistance might be delaying making a plan because they feel anxious tackling the problem head-on, but Emery suggests the way out is not as scary as it might seem.

“You’re going to feel better once you’ve sat down and you’ve put it down on paper and now you really understand what the challenge is before you,” he said. “Often it might be a little bit less than you think it would be. You’re also going to have some steps to take now because that’s really going to be the key.”

Emery suggests a step that can be taken could be building an emergency fund. Any surplus you might be getting from income supports or from having payments deferred should go towards that fund to allow yourself some padding if the going gets tough.

And when it comes to those mounting debts, Emery says you should be working towards paying them down instead of carrying it as is.

“If you find you don’t have a budget surplus or you do have one but it’s not enough to cover your debt payments or your other obligations, then you need to either look at reducing your expenses or reducing your debt load,” he said. “From there, you may need to get creative with finding new ways of dealing with income.”

According to the survey, one-in-four Canadians said they have used income supports like CERB and EI. One-in-10 said they have used payment deferrals for car loans, mortgage, rent, lines of credit and credit cards during the pandemic.

About half of those receiving income supports or using payment deferrals said they are confident they’ll no longer need financial assistance at all once these supports have ended.

Alternatively, 10 per cent say they’ll turn to traditional borrowing like family loans, bank loans, and credit cards.

Whatever option you choose, Credit Canada says if you’re receiving any kind of support that’s set to run out, you should start planning now and to remember you’re not alone. They suggest either speaking to a trusted friend or family member about a financial plan or using one of the non-profit’s own debt counsellors.