Canadians are ringing in the new year with optimism after a challenging last 12 months that saw the COVID-19 pandemic continue to take a physical, mental and economic toll on people’s lives.
According to a new poll, conducted by Ipsos exclusively for Global News, 67 per cent are generally feeling positive about 2022 despite concerns about their financial well-being, following a year in which the country’s inflation soared to its highest rate in nearly two decades and the cost of living continued to rise.
As 2021 draws to a close, less than half (46 per cent) of Canadians agree that the past year was better than they thought it would be, while 54 per cent disagreed.
Darrell Bricker, CEO of Ipsos public affairs, said compared to 2020 — which was the first full year of the pandemic — not much progress was made in terms of how Canadians felt this year. But he noted that Canadians were feeling “less emotionally urgent” about COVID-19 than before.
“They’re learning to live with it to a certain extent,” he told Global News. “They’re figuring out that it goes through cycles.”
With greater vaccination coverage and better knowledge about how to control COVID-19, there are some “glimpses of sunshine” going into 2022, Bricker said.
“As we look forward to the next year, people are certainly more optimistic about what 2022 is going to look like,” he added.
Financial well-being is among the main issues top of mind for Canadians going into next year.
While two-thirds rate their current financial situation positively — the same as 2020 — fewer Canadians (14 per cent) are feeling financially secure compared to December 2020.
The finding comes as inflation hit its highest rate since 2003 in October — a whopping 4.7 per cent — driven by high gas prices, soaring housing costs and rising food prices.
The climbing costs have forced consumers of every age, income and political creed to spend more to fill up their tanks and grocery carts.
With that in mind, four in 10 (41 per cent) Canadians say they will make a New Year’s resolution about their finances — with nearly half (48 per cent) of those looking to pay off their debts.
Bricker said the urgency towards debt payment was particularly high among younger Canadians and those with kids at home.
Less than half (45 per cent) of the poll respondents say they want to commit to a budget, while over a third are aiming to save for retirement or invest more in the coming year.
However, a growing number of Canadians acknowledge there are several barriers that stand in the way of them achieving their financial goals — with grocery and food costs cited as the biggest hurdle, followed by housing costs.
New Year’s resolutions
Besides the financial goals, 48 per cent of Canadians say they would make a resolution about their physical health and 37 per cent want to improve their mental health.
The COVID-19 pandemic has had a significant impact on the mental health of Canadians, polling shows.
According to a recent survey by Lifeworks, one in four working Canadians indicated that their personal and work lives have worsened since the pandemic.
In November 2021, LifeWorks’ monthly Mental Health Index remained 10 points below the pre-COVID-19 levels.
An earlier Ipsos poll from May found that 50 per cent of Canadians surveyed were at “high risk” — meaning they’ve experienced some combination of debilitating stress, hopeless depression and consideration of suicide or self-harm.
“The one thing that really seems be emerging specifically around the issue of COVID-19 is the mental health risks,” said Bricker.
Women were more likely to prioritize their mental well-being compared to men when it comes to New Year’s resolutions, the Ipsos poll showed.
In general, younger Canadians — aged 18 to 34 — were more eager to kick off 2022 with fresh resolutions, compared to those aged 35 and above.
Exclusive Global News Ipsos polls are protected by copyright. The information and/or data may only be rebroadcast or republished with full and proper credit and attribution to “Global News Ipsos.” This poll was conducted between Dec. 10 and 15, 2021, with a sample of 1,001 Canadians aged 18-plus interviewed online. The precision of Ipsos online polls is measured using a credibility interval. This poll is accurate to within ± 3.5 percentage points, 19 times out of 20, had all Canadians aged 18-plus been polled.