With five of the emergency benefits programs introduced by the federal government to support individuals and businesses during the COVID-19 pandemic scheduled to end on Oct. 23, the Trudeau government will be weighing the voices of those advocating for more extensions and those who are ready to see such benefits end – either immediately or in the near term.
A new study from the non-profit Angus Reid Institute finds that two-in-five Canadians (41 per cent) say now is the time for such programs to come to an end – including almost three-in-10 (29 per cent) who received benefits themselves.
A further 16 per cent say the end of the year represents an ideal period to ease off emergency benefits.
Overall, two-thirds of Canadians say the programs should not be extended past June of 2022 – more than two years after the pandemic began. The remaining one-third are split between keeping benefits in place until the crisis is deemed to be over (25 per cent) and maintaining them for an additional year, post-pandemic (nine per cent).
What’s driving these opinions? Canadians have inflation on the mind.
Nine-in-10 (87 per cent) say looking ahead, the rising cost of living concerns them more than the prospect of losing their job or income (13 per cent).
Indeed, 45 per cent of Canadians report they currently find it either difficult or very difficult to feed their household – a number which rises to nine-in-10 (92 per cent) of the most economically vulnerable.
This study dives deep into the financial realities that different groups of Canadians are facing, utilizing an Economic Vulnerability Index, based on a number of responses to questions about economic comfort and security among individuals. While one-in-five Canadians appear financially secure (21 per cent), the other four-in-five face varying levels of exposure to ongoing economic challenges. This culminates with another similarly sized group (19 per cent) who are considered to be in dire straits.
More key findings
- Canadians report that their experiences with rising prices are not being offset by increases in income. When asked specifically about their expenditures on groceries, four-in-five (80 per cent) of all Canadians say that their earnings have not kept pace with the rising cost of living – including 42 per cent who say that their salary gains don’t even come close.
- Half of those in Ontario would keep pandemic benefits in place until at least next year, while a majority (60 per cent) of Quebecers would end them immediately.
- Half (52 per cent) of all Canadians view large deficits as something that makes their life worse. Despite this, the number of Canadians who report government spending as one their top three concerns has fallen as the deficit has ballooned over the last year and a half.