A new report says COVID-19 has widened the gap between the haves and have-nots in Canada, amplifying the economic disparities that existed pre-pandemic. Pandora Avenue where over a hundred homeless people are temporarily living in tents and on the street as the city continues to monitor the COVID-19 pandemic in Victoria, B.C., on Wednesday, March 25, 2020. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Chad Hipolito

Rich get richer, poor poorer: Report says pandemic intensified economic disparities

Many households reported being just hundreds of dollars away from bankruptcy

A pair of new reports say Canada is undergoing a “K-shaped recovery,” with working-class Canadians going deeper into debt while those at the top prosper.

The reports say the uneven recovery is amplifying economic disparities that existed pre-pandemic and widening the gap between the haves and have-nots.

With the second wave of COVID-19 intensifying across the country, the two reports also suggest the divide between the rich and poor in Canada could worsen.

The affordability index by BDO Canada Ltd. found that while one in five Canadians say they are better off, nearly two in five say their personal finances deteriorated during the first wave.

The index, based on polling data by the Angus Reid Group, found that those who are worse off are nearly four times more likely to say their debt load is overwhelming.

Meanwhile, the latest MNP Ltd. consumer debt index says the pandemic recession is putting a spotlight on inequalities between the well-off and those dealing with job losses, debt, eviction and food insecurity.

Grant Bazian, president of MNP, says his firm’s index “highlights the divergent experiences of Canadians during COVID.”

“While some are fortunate enough to be able to continue working in their present jobs, but from home, others continue to struggle with financial uncertainty and not knowing whether their job will still be around after the pandemic,” he says.

The MNP index, based on polling data by Ipsos, found that over half of millennials surveyed say they regret the amount of debt they’ve taken on in life.

Many households reported being just hundreds of dollars away from bankruptcy, a sign they’re living paycheque to paycheque.

MNP says 44 per cent of households earning $40,000 to $60,000 are $200 or less away from insolvency, including 22 per cent who are already insolvent.

Both reports underscore a yawning chasm between Canadians who are losing ground and those whose financial situation has improved during the pandemic or hasn’t changed.

Doug Jones, president of BDO Debt Solutions, says the firm’s affordability index shows Canadians are struggling more and more with the cost of living.

He says COVID-19 has prompted Canadians to cut back on spending and save more, but that people are also finding it more difficult to keep up with debt.

“These factors will likely put long-term stress on families and the economy,” Jones says in a statement. “Now is the time to keep a close eye on household budgets and avoid debt whenever possible.”

The survey found that two-thirds of Canadians with debt cannot keep up with their debt payments or have had to make sacrifices in their budgeting.

While this typically involves foregoing non-essential “nice-to-have” purchases like entertainment or recreation, the survey found that nearly a quarter of Canadians forego essentials like food or clothing.

The survey also showed that residents of British Columbia, Alberta and Ontario were more likely to accrue debt during the pandemic.

Meanwhile, Canadians who are saving more tend to be young, university educated and earn more than $100,000, the survey found.

This cohort tended to shift spending away from non-essentials such as restaurants and travel into savings — reducing concerns about debt.

The Angus Reid online survey, in partnership with BDO Canada, included 2,047 Canadian adults surveyed between Sept. 1 and Sept. 8.

The Ipsos online poll, conducted for MNP between Sept. 1 and Sept. 3, included 2,001 Canadians.

According to the polling industry’s generally accepted standards, online surveys cannot be assigned a margin of error because they do not randomly sample the population.

The Canadian Press


Like us on Facebook and follow us on Twitter.

Want to support local journalism during the pandemic? Make a donation here.

Coronaviruseconomy

Get local stories you won't find anywhere else right to your inbox.
Sign up here

Just Posted

Alberta has 3,651 active cases of COVID-19. (File photo)
432 new COVID cases sets another record Friday

Central zone holds steady at 126 active cases

"We are looking seriously at the spread and determining what our next steps should be," says Alberta’s chief medical officer of health, Dr. Deena Hinshaw, as the daily number of COVID-19 cases continues to climb.
427 new COVID cases is highest in Alberta ever

Central zone has 126 active cases of COVID-19

100 Women Who Care make a donation to Sylvan Lake Food Bank and Bethany Care Centre. Photo By Megan Roth/Sylvan Lake News
100 Women Who Care donate to four Sylvan Lake groups

The Food Bank, Bethany Sylvan Lake, Community Partners and the Library all received a donation

RCMP. (Black Press File Photo)
Calgary man dies in two-vehicle collision near Sylvan Lake

A semi truck collided with a SUV just east of Hwy. 781 on Hwy 11.

Shaelynn Decock and her dog Taco, who has been missing since Aug. 26. Photo Submitted
Sylvan Lake woman looking for closure for her stolen dog

Shaelynn Decock says it has been two months since she last saw her dog Taco

B.C. Liberal leader Andrew Wilkinson, B.C. NDP leader John Horgan and B.C. Greens leader Sonia Furstenau. (Black Press Media)
VIDEO: One day until B.C. voters go to the polls in snap election defined by pandemic

NDP Leader John Horgan’s decision to call an election comes more than a year ahead of schedule and during a pandemic

This photo provided by Air Force Reserve shows a sky view of Hurricane Epsilon taken by Air Force Reserve hurricane hunter team over the Atlantic Ocean taken Wednesday, Oct. 21, 2020.   Epsilon’s maximum sustained winds have dropped slightly as it prepares to sideswipe Bermuda on a path over the Atlantic Ocean.  The National Hurricane Center says it should come close enough Thursday, Oct. 22, evening to merit a tropical storm warning for the island.  (Air Force Reserve via AP)
Hurricane Epsilon expected to remain offshore but will push waves at Atlantic Canada

Epsilon is not expected to have any real impact on land

A voter places her absentee ballot in the ballot box, Wednesday, Oct. 7, 2020, at Merrill Auditorium in Portland, Maine. THE CANADIAN PRESS/AP/Robert F. Bukaty
American voters living in Canada increasingly being counted in presidential race

The largest number of Canadian-based American voters cast their ballots in New York and California

A composite image of three photographs shows BC NDP Leader John Horgan, left, in Coquitlam, B.C., on Sept. 25, 2020; BC Green Party Leader Sonia Furstenau, centre, in Victoria on Sept. 24, 2020; and BC Liberal Party Leader Andrew Wilkinson Pitt Meadows, B.C., on Sept. 24, 2020. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Darryl Dyck, Chad Hipolito
British Columbia votes in snap election called during COVID-19 pandemic

NDP Leader John Horgan called the snap election one year before the fixed voting date

Nunavut's provincial flag flies on a flag pole in Ottawa, on Tuesday June 30, 2020. The annual report from Nunavut's representative for children and youth says "complacency and a lack of accountability" in the territory's public service means basic information about young people needing services isn’t tracked. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Adrian Wyld
Nunavut’s young people ‘should be expecting more’ from government services: advocate

‘The majority of information we requested is not tracked or was not provided by departments’

Ryen Williams, 11, with a lost miniature horse at JJ Collett Oct. 23. Photo by Don Williams
UPDATE: Owners found

Father and son found him while out for a walk at JJ Collett

A Le Chateau retail store is shown in Montreal on Wednesday July 13, 2016. Le Chateau Inc. says it is seeking court protection from creditors under the Companies’ Creditors Arrangement Act to allow it to liquidate its assets and wind down its operations.THE CANADIAN PRESS/Ryan Remiorz
Clothing retailer Le Chateau plans to close its doors, files for CCAA protection

Le Chateau said it intends to remain fully operational as it liquidates its 123 stores

U.S. border officers at the Peace Arch crossing arrested two men on California warrants this week. (File photo)
Ottawa predicts system delays, backlogs unless court extends life of refugee pact

Canada and the United States recognize each other as safe places to seek protection

Conservative member of Parliament Michelle Rempel Garner, left to right, Conservative Leader Erin O’Toole and Conservative Deputy Leader Candice Bergen arrive to hold a press conference in Ottawa on Thursday, Oct. 22, 2020. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Sean Kilpatrick
No-confidence showdown over sweeping Tory motion on government handling of pandemic

The Conservative motion is to be put to a vote Monday and has the support of both the Bloc Québécois and NDP

Most Read