MNP Consumer Debt Index Dips To Second-Lowest Level in Last 5 Years, Canadians’ Current Debt Perception Reaches All-Time Low

  • Growing concern and regret about debt: 63% (+1pt) are concerned about their ability to repay their debts, 47% (+2pts) regret the amount of debt they’ve taken on, 47% (+1pt) are concerned about their current level of debt.
  • Finances taking a toll on mental health: Canadians say their financial situation causes them anxiety (60%), stress (59%), isolation (48%) or embarrassment (40%).
  • Struggling with debt repayment: More making only minimum payments on credit cards (26%, +5 pts from 2021), minimum payments on line of credit (19%, +8pts compared to 2021), one in five (18%) say they took from savings, home equity, RSP, or alternative methods to pay debt or day-to-day expenses in the last year.

CALGARY, Alberta, Jan. 08, 2024 (GLOBE NEWSWIRE) -- The MNP Consumer Debt Index, conducted quarterly by Ipsos, has dropped to 83 points, a decrease of three points from the last quarter, reaching the second-lowest level in five years. Most notably, Canadians’ current debt perception has reached an all-time low, with the impact of inflation and higher interest rates leaving them feeling the most pessimistic about their current debt situation. More this quarter perceive their current debt situation as much worse (22%, +2pts) and fewer rated it better (22%, -2pts) compared to a year ago. Looking back to five years ago, a rising proportion (28%, +3pts) say their debt situation has worsened, and nearly three in ten (27%, -1pt) say it has improved.

“Spending on credit has served as a relief mechanism for many to keep up with increasing costs – especially for lower-income Canadians – and we see from the data that the burden of repaying that debt is exacerbating the growing financial strain for many households, particularly amid higher interest rates,” says Grant Bazian, president of MNP LTD, the country’s largest insolvency firm. “Put simply, most things cost more, debt repayment costs more and that leaves more feeling pessimistic about paying off debts, making ends meet and about their financial futures on the whole.”

Compared to last quarter, more Canadians say they regret the amount of debt they’ve taken on in life (47%, +2pts), and nearly half are concerned about their current level of debt (47%, +1pt). All told, three in five agree they are concerned about their ability to repay their debts (63%, +1pt). Interest rates likely contribute to the concern as Canadians continue to feel negatively about their ability to absorb interest rate increases. When asked about their ability to absorb an interest rate increase of one percentage point, nearly three in ten (27%, -1pt) say their ability to deal with this increase has worsened, while one in five (22%, -1pt) say they are better equipped to absorb this increase. When the one percent was phrased as an extra $130 in debt repayment costs, over a third (36%, -1pt) say their ability to absorb this increase is much worse, while one in five (19%, unchanged) say it has improved.

“With the cost of living on the rise, those households who were already overextended may feel they have to take on more debt just to afford basic necessities. The results can be disastrous because they end up trying to fill a hole by digging another one,” says Bazian.

One in five (18%) Canadians say that in the past year, they needed to take money from savings, home equity, RSP, or alternative methods to pay debt or day-to-day expenses. At the same time, the number of Canadians opting to make only the minimum payments on their debts has jumped over the past two years. A quarter (26%) say they have done so towards the balance on their credit card (+5pts compared to 2021), and one in five (19%) on their line of credit (+8pts compared to 2021). About one in five (18%) indicate they borrowed money they can’t afford to pay back quickly (+7pts compared to 2021).

“The added pressure of holiday bills coming due, mortgage renewals approaching, costs continuing to increase, and you can see how many Canadians could be approaching a crisis point both mentally and financially,” says Bazian.

The survey underscores the impact of finances on Canadians’ mental health, with three in five indicating that their financial situation causes them anxiety (60%) and stresses them out (59%). As more Canadians pile on debt, half say that their financial situation causes them to feel a greater sense of isolation (48%), and two in five state they are embarrassed by the amount of debt they owe (40%). One in three (35%) admit to hiding their credit card debt from friends and family.

“At some point, many realize that there is no clear path to repay what they have borrowed, no matter the time horizon or interest rate. This can often be an extremely isolating, stressful and sometimes embarrassing experience,” explains Bazian.

He says that the shame and guilt associated with unmanageable debt often cause people to delay getting help. They draw out the situation using credit to stay afloat. Some may face aggressive collections activity, or debt-relief scams, resulting in more stress and sleepless nights.

“Financial comfort and preparedness are key aspects of an individual’s overall well-being, so just as anyone experiencing a health crisis would seek help, the same is true for those in financial distress,” explains Bazian.

To help severely indebted Canadians get unbiased debt advice, understand their rights and determine the best path forward, MNP’s national team of Licensed Insolvency Trustees offers free consultations across the country. As the only government-regulated debt professionals, Licensed Insolvency Trustees are empowered to offer guidance on all of the debt-relief options available, including consumer proposals, bankruptcies, and informal debt settlements.

“Often by the time clients arrive in our offices for help, they have been needlessly struggling with debt for years – even decades,” he explains. “A consumer proposal or bankruptcy may be a necessary step for some, but others simply need reputable advice to develop a budget and a plan to deal with their debt. Everyone’s situation is different, which is why it is so important to get customized, unbiased advice from a licensed professional.”


MNP LTD, a division of the national accounting firm MNP LLP, is the largest insolvency practice in Canada. For more than 50 years, our experienced team of Licensed Insolvency Trustees and advisors have been working with individuals to help them recover from times of financial distress and regain control of their finances. With more than 240 Canadian offices from coast-to-coast, MNP helps thousands of Canadians each year who are struggling with an overwhelming amount of debt. Visit to contact a Licensed Insolvency Trustee or use our free Do it Yourself (DIY) debt assessment tools. For regular, bite-sized insights about debt and personal finances, subscribe to the MNP 3 Minute Debt Break Podcast.

About the MNP Consumer Debt Index

The MNP Consumer Debt Index measures Canadians’ attitudes toward their consumer debt and gauges their ability to pay their bills, endure unexpected expenses, and absorb interest-rate fluctuations without approaching insolvency. Conducted by Ipsos and updated quarterly, the Index is an industry-leading barometer of financial pressure or relief among Canadians.

Now in its 27th wave, the Index decreased to 83 points, down three points since last quarter. Visit to learn more.

The data was compiled by Ipsos on behalf of MNP LTD between November 28-December 4, 2023. For this survey, a sample of 2,000 Canadians aged 18 years and over was interviewed. Weighting was then employed to balance demographics to ensure that the sample’s composition reflects that of the adult population according to Census data and to provide results intended to approximate the sample universe. The precision of Ipsos online polls is measured using a credibility interval. In this case, the poll is accurate to within ±2.5 percentage points, 19 times out of 20, had all Canadian adults been polled. The credibility interval will be wider among subsets of the population. All sample surveys and polls may be subject to other sources of error, including, but not limited to coverage error, and measurement error.

Provincial data is available upon request.


Angela Joyce, Media Relations

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A photo accompanying this announcement is available at:

MNP Consumer Debt Index - January 2024 - Infographic