February 28, 2020 — The results are in for the 25th annual edition of Pollara Strategic Insights’ Economic Outlook Study – Canada’s longest-running study of the public’s perceptions and expectations of the economy and their personal financial situation. And, it reveals somewhat improved – but still negative – sentiment and expectations among Canadians.
Although the Great Recession has long been in Canada’s rear-view mirror, Canadians have not actually felt that the economy was out of recession, except in 2018. Currently, just under half (47%) of Canadians feel that the economy is in recession – a notable decline of 9 points since 2019. However, only 37% (+5) feel we are in a period of growth.
Canada’s economy is often a see-saw tale of regions. During the oil boom of 2010-2014, Albertans were highly positive about the economy, while Ontarians were negative and pessimistic in the face of relatively high unemployment. Currently, Alberta and Saskatchewan stand out amongst the provinces with very negative perspectives on the economy, while Quebecers are displaying high confidence.
Contextually, to the eyes of Canadians, the grass does not appear to be greener elsewhere. Canadians are more likely to have a negative expectation for both the U.S. and global economies than for their own economy. This negative view of the world around them may provide the public with some cold comfort.
The public’s assessment of their own personal financial situation remains stable compared to last year. Overall, half continue to hold their own, while a third (32%) are losing ground. Just 12% say they are getting ahead.
Although job loss concerns are relatively low outside of Alberta and Saskatchewan, the cost of living continues to be an issue across the country. For two years now, a plurality (45%) of Canadians report that their household income is falling behind the cost of living. Four-in-ten (41%) are keeping pace. Just 8% are outpacing it – which is what is needed to contribute to savings, retirement investments, and consumer spending.
See the full details in our report, as well as further perspective via Jason Kirby’s article in Maclean’s.