Unemployment worries keeping Canadians up at night: Ipsos poll

A new Ipsos poll finds Canadians remain anxious about unemployment.
A new Ipsos poll finds Canadians remain anxious about unemployment. AP Photo/Charles Krupa

Unemployment tops the list when it comes to issues worrying Canadians, according to new Ipsos poll results exclusive to Global News.

Of survey respondents, 41 per cent said unemployment was the most worrying issue in the country, followed by health care (33 per cent) and taxes (32 per cent).

These concerns outpace global trends; the same survey found the global average among 25 countries to be lower in each of these three areas of concern.

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Canada has been weathering an economic storm in recent years, with the crash in oil prices leaving tens of thousands unemployed in Alberta and other oil-dependent provinces.

The unemployment rate in Canada has hovered around 7 per cent in recent months. The rate sits around 8.5 per cent in Alberta.

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READ MORE: Alberta’s unemployment rate hits levels not seen since 1990s

Recent national jobs numbers have shown promise — Statistics Canada data released last week indicated the creation of 67,000 new jobs. However, much of the increase has been due to part-time work or self-employment.

And an increase in self-employment doesn’t necessarily mean a rise in entrepreneurship — people are resorting to freelance or contract work because that’s what’s available.

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Wages have also largely fallen flat. Recent data revealed that average Canadian weekly earnings rose by just 0.1 per cent between July 2015 and July 2016.

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And while incomes aren’t growing, debt is: rock-bottom interest rates intended to spur growth have resulted in record-high debt. All combined, Canadian households owed $1.94 trillion in the second quarter of 2016, up 5.1 per cent from the same period in 2015. About 70 per cent of that is mortgage debt.

READ MORE: Bank of Canada head Stephen Poloz confounded by sluggish exports

The lower rates have also prompted Bank of Canada Governor Stephen Poloz to urge Canadians to rejig their retirements plans to account for lower return on investments.

Canadians still hold optimistic view on country’s direction

While the poll reveals insecurities, a majority of Canadians — 54 per cent — said Canada is on the right track overall.

More than 10,000 adults were surveyed in 25 countries for the poll, and Canada ranked in the top five for optimism on the country’s overall state of affairs. The global average among respondents from all countries came in at 38 per cent.

China led the pack with 90 per cent of respondents agreeing their country was headed in the right direction, while France fell to last place with a measly 12 per cent of respondents agreeing.

South of the border, 36 per cent of U.S. poll respondents held an optimistic opinion their country was on the right path.

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The Ipsos poll was conducted between August 26 and September 9, 2016. For this survey, a sample of 1,000 Canadian adults aged 18-64 was interviewed online. Weighting was then employed to balance demographics to ensure that the sample’s composition reflects that of the adult population according to Census data and to provide results intended to approximate the sample universe. The poll is accurate to within +/ – 3.5 percentage points, 19 times out of 20, had all Canadian adults aged 18-64 been polled. 

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