Nearly half of Albertans say they're $200 away from not being able to pay their bills, survey suggests

Recent interest hikes have Albertans increasingly worried they won’t be able to cover their monthly expenses, according to a survey by the national insolvency firm MNP Ltd.

'The results highlight just how financially vulnerable Albertans are'

A survey by the national personal insolvency firm MNP Ltd. found that 46 per cent of Albertans report being within $200 of not being able to pay their bills. (Andrey Popov/Shutterstock)

Recent interest hikes have Albertans increasingly worried they won't be able to cover their monthly expenses, according to a survey by the national personal insolvency firm MNP Ltd.

The consumer debt index conducted by Ipsos for MNP found that 31 per cent of Albertans are unable to afford their monthly bills and debt obligations — an increase of seven points since the September index.

On average, Albertans say they have $741 left after bills and debt repayments, a decrease from last quarter when the average was $751, and down 27 per cent since June's figure of $1,013.

The survey also found that 46 per cent of Albertans report being within $200 of not being able to pay their bills, up three points since September.

"The results highlight just how financially vulnerable Albertans are. Small interest rate increases result in escalating financial strain and anxiety across the province," says Donna Carson, a licensed insolvency trustee with MNP, in a release.

On Friday, three of Canada's biggest banks hiked the rate on their benchmark five-year mortgage, and more are expected to follow suit.

More than four in 10 Albertans say that if interest rates go up much more, they are concerned they could be in financial trouble.

The MNP survey suggests 48 per cent of Albertans expect they will have to go further into debt to cover their expenses in the coming year, even though 80 per cent say they intend to be more careful about spending in view of higher interest rates.

"While Albertans say they are heeding rate increase warnings, they are still reliant on credit to make their household budgets work. This could result in a dangerous debt trap for many," Carson said. 

Nationally, the MNP survey found that one in three Canadians say they are unable to cover their monthly bills and debt repayments — up eight points since the September results.

One in three Canadians say they are concerned about their current level of debt, and nearly four in 10 regret how much debt they've taken on in their life.

The quarterly survey gauges Canadians' perceived ability to pay their bills, cope with unexpected expenses, and manage interest-rate upticks without risking insolvency.

The latest Index data was compiled Dec. 8-13. Online interviews were conducted with 2,001 Canadians.