January 4, 2016 10:34 am
Updated: January 4, 2016 9:50 pm

Albertans least confident about finances, but most Canadians still upbeat

WATCH ABOVE: A new survey shows Calgarians are nervous about our financial future. The CIBC says while confidence is down right across Canada, Albertans are the most pessimistic. Global’s Gary Bobrovitz reports.

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A majority of Canadians remain confident about their finances heading into 2016, but the percentage holding a positive view is down from a year ago, according to a new poll from one of the country’s big banks.

The CIBC poll found that more than two thirds of Canadians, or 69 per cent, felt positive about their finances going into the new year. Still, that was down five percentage points from a year ago, with the drop centred mainly in Alberta, Ontario and Quebec.

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In fact, the survey found that Alberta, hard hit by trouble in the oilpatch, now is the least positive region in the country. Just 62 per cent of Albertans surveyed felt confident about their finances, down 21 percentage points from a year ago.

The somber mood of Alberta consumers is reflected in declining home sales for December, according to the Calgary Real Estate Board (CREB).

Home sales are down 18 per cent since last year at this time, and well below the five and 10-year averages. Home prices also dipped to an average prices of $448,800, which is a 0.42 per cent decline over the previous month, and 2.33 per cent year over year.

CREB chief economist Ann-Marie Lurie noted December followed a pattern established early on in 2015, which was characterized by slower housing demand.

“Economic uncertainty, followed by weak economic conditions and job losses, contributed to slowing housing demand throughout the year,” she said.

CREB’s 2015 year-end numbers and 2016 price and sales forecast are due out next week.

MORE: 2016 could be year Canadians actually shrink debt loads — or not

Financial confidence was also lower in Ontario at 68 per cent, down from 73 per cent going into 2015, and in Quebec at 71 per cent, down from 78 per cent. Sentiment in British Columbia declined marginally to 71 per cent from 72 per cent.

Confidence improved sharply in Manitoba and Saskatchewan, up seven percentage points at 78 per cent, while those surveyed in Atlantic Canada were slightly more positive, up two percentage points at 67 per cent.

Confidence drops

While Canadians 55 and older remain the most positive about their finances, they also saw the biggest decline in this year’s survey, falling from 82 per cent a year ago to 74 per cent this year.

That compared with confidence levels of 69 per cent (down from 70 per cent) for those in the 18-to-34 age group; and 65 per cent, down from 70 per cent, for those between 35 and 54.

“While many Canadians remain positive about their financial situation, some are feeling less optimistic than they were at this time last year,” CIBC executive vice-president Christina Kramer said of the survey results.

“Whether you feel positive or have concerns about your finances, the new year is an ideal time to make changes so you feel prepared for the year ahead,” she said.

The poll was conducted Dec. 7-8 among 1,508 Canadian adults who are Angus Reid Forum panellists. The polling industry’s professional body, the Marketing Research and Intelligence Association, says online surveys cannot be assigned a margin of error because they so not randomly sample the population.

WATCH: Global’s Gary Bobrovitz reports on the emotional toll that tough economic times can take on Albertans following the release of the province’s fiscal update.

With files from Global’s Gary Bobrovitz

© 2016 The Canadian Press

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