Nearly four out of five Canadians are either worried or very worried about rising inflation, a new Ipsos poll conducted exclusively for Global News found.
As Canada’s annual inflation rate hit 4.7 per cent in October, the fastest pace in nearly 19 years, soaring living costs have become a top concern for 78 per cent of Canadians the poll found. Only six per cent said they weren’t at all worried about rising prices.
Among those most likely to fret about inflation are parents, the Ipsos survey shows. Six out of 10 respondents with kids under 18 said they concerned they might not have enough money to feed their family, compared to four in 10 who said the same overall.
“The people who are going to be really slapped around by what’s going on with inflation and rising cost of living are those very precarious members of the younger population who are trying to break into more stable jobs,” says Darrell Bricker, CEO of Ipsos Public Affairs.
“They’re having difficulty paying for very expensive real estate in our major cities and are also struggling with even starting and raising families, things that people used to take for granted.”
Canada’s national average home price reached $716,585 in October 2021, up nearly 33 per cent since the start of the pandemic, according to data from the Canadian Real Estate Association.
At a grocery story in Saskatoon, Amanda Dyck says the food bill for her family of five is now around $200 per month more than what it used to be not long ago.
“Fruits and vegetables are the worst,” she says. “They’re really hard to afford these days, but when you have kids, then they need them. What can you do?”
To keep a lid on costs, Dyck says she’s relying more on frozen meals, stocking up on produce when it’s on sale and freezing or canning it, and shopping for meat from local farmers.
Read more: How to protect your savings from inflation
Supply chain snarls and extreme weather are both contributing to rising food prices in Canada and around the world. Globally, food prices have risen by more than 30 per cent over the past year, the United Nations Food and Agriculture Organization said in early November.
Food inflation stood at 3.8 per cent in October, but as the growing season ends in Canada and parts of U.S., experts warn Canadians may be in for more sticker shock at the grocery store.
Beef prices for the month were already 14 per cent higher than a year earlier, an increase that reflects, in part, the impact of the severe drought that has plagued Western Canada and the Western U.S. and forced many ranchers to liquidate a larger than usual share of their herds.
Flooding in B.C. is also having significant repercussions on Canada’s food supply chain. The devastating deluge has hit both local farm production and temporarily cut off the Port of Vancouver, an important gateway for both food imports and Canadian agricultural commodities heading abroad.
Across the country, survey respondents in Alberta were the most likely to express concern about their ability to feed their family, according to the Ipsos poll.
Fifty-four per cent of Albertans said they were worried about putting food on the table, compared to 49 per cent in Quebec, 48 per cent in Atlantic Canada, 44 per cent in Saskatchewan and Manitoba, 40 per cent in Ontario and 38 per cent in B.C. The survey, however, was conducted in part before the start of flooding in B.C.
“Alberta was in a very economically precarious position well before anything that’s happening right now. So people are already attuned to be fearful of things changing in the economy,” Bricker says.
In general, concerns about inflation reflect the psychologically destabilizing impact of rapidly-rising prices, Bricker says.
“What (inflation) does is it it shakes up their sense of stability. And when we shake up somebody’s sense of stability, regardless of what the objective aspects are of their financial situation, they start to feel more imperiled than they did the day before.”
The Ipsos poll was conducted between Nov. 12 and 15, 2021, on behalf of Global News. For this survey, a sample of 1,001 Canadians aged 18+ was interviewed. Quotas and weighting were employed to ensure that the sample’s composition reflects that of the Canadian population according to census parameters. The precision of Ipsos online polls is measured using a credibility interval. In this case, the poll is accurate to within ± 3.5 percentage points, 19 times out of 20, had all Canadians aged 18+ been polled. The credibility interval will be wider among subsets of the population. All sample surveys and polls may be subject to other sources of error, including, but not limited to coverage error and measurement error.