1 in 4 fear their income won’t cover their basic needs, Salvation Army poll

25 per cent of Canadians are extremely concerned about having enough income to cover their basic needs. Satjawat Boontanataweepol/Getty Images

No doubt about it, these are hard times — and a Salvation Army poll reminds us of that, saying 25 per cent of Canadians are extremely concerned about having enough income to cover their basic needs.

That number bounds to 40 per cent when it comes to single-parents of kids under 18-years-old.

Major Al Hoeft, divisional secretary for Public Relations with the Salvation Army Prairie Division said that stat isn’t surprising for those on the front lines.

“I think for us, they were numbers that we recognize from (the Salvation Army’s) day-to-day operations,” he said, citing an increased number of people attending the organization’s food security, financial counselling and, right now, Christmas programs.

“We’re hearing it from people who are walking in the door and asking for support. You know, people who have never had to come to the Salvation Army or to other organizations looking for help,” he said.

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The report by the Sally Ann, entitled, ‘The Salvation Army’s Annual Canadian Poverty and Socioeconomic Analysis,” said the top three concerns for Canadians included inflation, housing security and food security.

“Prices of food and shelter have seen increases since 2020, driving considerable deterioration to the affordability of living in Canada,” it said. Food increased by 5.9 per cent, and shelter by 6 per cent.

In the prairie provinces, about half of respondents said they were extremely concerned about the rising cost of energy and rising interest rates.

Hoeft said these kinds of price hikes have more than just an impact on people’s wallets.

“Affordability issues really take a toll on the emotional, mental and physical well-being of our communities. I think that’s an important piece that we need to hang on to. When people are struggling, that means individuals, families, communities struggle.”

The report from the Sally Ann said about one in three people are extremely concerned about their mental and physical wellbeing.

It said 17 per cent of Canadians have faced challenges to housing security, with eight per cent moving in with family because they could not afford housing.

When it comes to food, the analysis said 20 per cent of people skipped or cut down on their meals because they couldn’t afford to by groceries, or so their family could eat.

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Again, that number more than doubled for single parents.

“People are really struggling on a day-to-day basis just to get by,” Hoeft said, adding last year, across the country, the Salvation Army saw 13 per cent more people coming to the organization for help over Christmas, and that similar numbers are expected for this year.

Hoeft said that number is significant “when you think about how many Canadians that represents who are on tough times, facing challenges and looking for additional assistance.”

In an attempt to scrape by, one in four Canadians have taken on an additional job, one in three are borrowing or withdrawing money from savings, an half are changing their habits to afford basic needs.

Some of those changes include cutting back on donations. Hoeft said, at a time when people can scarcely spare a penny, the Salvation Organization’s kettle campaign sits at half its $22-million goal, with only one week left in the campaign.

“A lot of communities are really struggling to meet their targets. And those targets don’t just impact the services that they provide at Christmas time. They actually impact the services that we’re able to provide throughout the year as well,” he said.

The report said those donations are needed to support those who are struggling.

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Hoeft said, when it comes down to it, every one can help each other out–it doesn’t always have to be dollars and cents.

“If we can cut each other a little slack and maybe support each other a little but more, we’ll find a way to get through this together,” he said.

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