A new study from research firm Angus Reid found most people in Saskatchewan live in financial comfort, though there’s a perception that poverty is on the rise.
The national survey asked more than 2,500 Canadians about their lived experiences, as opposed to comparing income levels. Saskatchewan is home to 218 of the respondents.
Following an extensive list of questions, respondents were grouped into four categories: struggling, on the edge, recently comfortable and always comfortable.
“People who are experiencing a lot of economic hardship, people who are in the groups we’re calling “struggling” and “on the edge”, those people are pretty overwhelmingly pessimistic,” Angus Reid research associate Ian Holliday said.
“They say that their lives had turned out much worse than their parents had by this point.”
That mindset appears to be gaining steam. According to the survey, a growing number of people believe upcoming generations will be financially worse off than their parents. This is in contrast to 47 per cent who believe they are better off than older generations.
This is a conversation 27-year-old Regina resident Mike Graham had with his mother not long ago.
“You can see in our generation, a lot of people are working two jobs, maybe three jobs just to get by. So when it comes down to the financial situation will we be as comfortable as our parents? Probably not,” Graham said.
Graham’s outlook extended to kids in Generation Z, whose oldest members are just now entering the workforce.
Holliday said that there appears to be a growing perception that the post-World War mentality of perpetual growth and prosperity is tapering off.
“They’re not necessarily going to get better for the average person, because we’ve seen over the last couple of decades that that hasn’t really been the case. Things have stagnated; wages have stagnated,” Holliday said.
Among the most common reasons listed for feeling financially insecure in the survey are the price of housing and wages. Both figures were referenced by 40 per cent of respondents.
Seventy-nine per cent of Saskatchewan respondents also agreed with the statement that it is becoming more difficult to sustain a middle class existence.
Danielle Deneve, Conexus Credit Union Sherwood Place branch manager, read the report. She said while they don’t track customers by generation, common themes arise in financial questions. This includes what retirement will look like, if retirement is possible and managing debt.
In response to rising cost of living, Deneve said a good financial plan is essential.
“Planning is really the key for those unexpected expenses. So many times people feel they are not able to participate or they’re not able to serve some of those financial needs. It’s about getting that plan in place ahead of time so they can be successful,” she said.
Denve added there has been a growing demand for financial literacy, and Conexus has been shifting services in that direction.
Aside from some minor deviations of a few percentage points, the Saskatchewan figures found in the Angus Reid report are consistent with findings from across Canada. The full report can be found on their website.