Albertans most likely to perceive themselves as 'suffering' financially: poll

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Albertans feel less secure about their financial situations than people in any other province according to a new survey from the Angus Reid Institute. (J.P. Moczulski/Reuters - image credit)
Albertans feel less secure about their financial situations than people in any other province according to a new survey from the Angus Reid Institute. (J.P. Moczulski/Reuters - image credit)

Albertans expressed the most despair in a new poll that asked people across the country how they felt about their personal finances.

"Albertans are among the least likely in the country to say that they are financially thriving," said Shachi Kurl, president of the Angus Reid Institute, which conducted the poll.

Nearly half of Albertans — 46 per cent — said they are worse off now than they were at this time last year, which marked the highest rate of any province.

"The worst perceived effects have been felt in Alberta and Saskatchewan … while residents in Quebec are least likely to say this of their own situation," the institute said in a report.

Nationally, 34 per cent of Canadians said they were worse off financially compared to a year ago, before the effects of the COVID-19 pandemic had set in.

Based on responses to that question and several others — including topics such as the fear of job loss, levels of credit card debt and overall financial stress — the Angus Reid Institute classified 24 per cent of Albertans as financially "suffering" on a four-step scale it dubbed the "personal finance index."

Alberta was tied with Saskatchewan for having the highest rate of "suffering" on the index.

Nationally, 18 per cent of Canadians were deemed to be "suffering."

Meanwhile, just 12 per cent of Albertans were "thriving" on the index, which was the second-lowest among provinces. Only Newfoundland and Labrador scored lower, with eight per cent.

Kurl said the results were not particularly surprising, given the economic struggles Alberta has seen long before the pandemic arrived.

"Very few of the other provinces have the same level of sort of cumulative economic trouble, fatigue, and stress that Albertans have had really, depending on where you start the clock, going on the better part of a decade," she said.

Data released earlier this week by Statistics Canada showed Albertans had seen the largest decline in median, after-tax income in recent years, which fell by 5.4 per cent from 2015 to 2019 in inflation-adjusted dollars.

That compares to a 4.5-per-cent increase in median income nationally over the same time.

In spite of that decline, Alberta still had the highest median income of any province in 2019, according to Statistics Canada.