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  • Being in debt akin to toxic relationship: new survey

    (TORONTO, ON – August 13, 2018) – A new national survey from Credit Canada paints a picture of the dysfunctional relationship Canadians have with their debt and shows it can create negative thoughts and actions similar to being in a toxic personal relationship. The Dysfunctional Debt Survey – a Leger poll of 1,517 Canadians sponsored by non-profit credit counselling agency, Credit Canada, found that half of those with debt (47%) believe it has a negative impact on their lives.

    When asked “how has debt impacted your life,” a quarter of Canadians with debt (27%) suggested it “prevents them from going out,” while one-in-five (19%) said it leads to “loss of sleep.” Other significant results include:

    • 15 per cent said they “avoid social gatherings” due to their debt
    • Similarly, 15 per cent said their debt “makes them unmotivated to pursue goals”
    • Eight per cent of respondents avoid relationships altogether because of their debt

    When asked “how does your current debt level make you feel,” more than half (53%) of respondents with debt had negative feelings. One quarter (25%) responded debt makes them frustrated and one-in-five (20%) feel like they are “never moving forward.” Some of the negative feelings that debt provoked include the following:

    • My debt makes me feel depressed (17%)
    • Embarrassed/Ashamed (12%)
    • Guilty (10%)
    • Like a failure (9%)
    • Hopeless (9%)
    • Worthless (4%)

    Like a bad romantic partner, debt can impact other areas of life

    “As Canada’s longest-standing credit counselling agency, we’ve seen time and time again the negative impact debt can have on people’s lives and their relationships,” said Laurie Campbell, Credit Canada CEO. “It can lead to isolation, depression, frustration, and loss of overall morale, which can ultimately affect mental health. But the takeaway here is that there is hope. If you develop a plan to tackle debt, you can realize your financial potential. And you don’t have to do it alone. There are professional resources available, like free debt counselling through non-profit credit counselling agencies.”

    Millennials and parents are most impacted by debt

    Parents (54%) and millennials (50%) have particularly negative feelings towards their debt, while, millennials (61%) experience the greatest negative impact of debt on their lives, followed by lower income earners (60%), parents (59%) and those living in urban areas (53%).

    “Millennials are carrying the highest amount of unsecured debt compared to any other age group, so it’s no surprise they are most impacted by bad or toxic debt,” said Campbell. “Add high interest rates, low cashflow, poor credit and unstable employment to the mix, and it becomes clear why we’re seeing the fallout of bad debt most visibly among millennials.”

    One-in-five Canadians have ended a relationship due to financial issues

    The survey found that 20 per cent of all Canadians (not just those in debt) have ended a relationship due to a financial issue, including poor spending habits or money management, lack of financial honesty (including hidden debt or purchases) and overall debt or insufficient income of one or both partners. These financial relationship deal breakers are most likely to occur among parents (28%), millennials (26%), lower income earners (24%) and men (19%).

    Leave the toxic relationship: Break up with debt

    This month, Credit Canada launched a campaign to encourage Canadians to break up with their debt. The campaign includes a website with resources including free debt counselling sessions to provide initial relief and ongoing wellness. Credit Canada’s message is threefold: you are not alone, you can overcome this, and don’t let your debt define you.

    “If you’re willing to end a relationship due to finances, why not end your relationship with debt instead? Because you really do deserve better,” added Campbell. “There’s definitely a strong therapeutic aspect when clients come in for their first appointment. They always leave feeling relieved and like a giant weight has been lifted off their shoulders. And it’s because they get a clear, simple plan to become debt-free with a specific end date.”

    The full results of the Dysfunctional Debt Survey can be found here.

    About the Dysfunctional Debt Survey 

    Leger conducted a survey of 1,517 Canadians between July 27 and July 31, 2018 using its online panel, LegerWeb. A probability sample of the same size would yield a margin of error of +/-2.5%, 19 times out of 20. Leger’s online panel has approximately 475,000 members nationally – with between 10,000 and 20,000 new members added each month, and has a retention rate of 90%.

    Credit Canada

    Credit Canada is a non-profit and charitable organization providing free and confidential credit counselling, personal debt consolidation and resolutions, as well as preventative counselling, educational seminars, and tips and tools in the areas of budgeting, money management, and financial goal-setting. Credit Canada is Canada’s longest-standing credit counselling agency, helping Canadians manage their debt since 1966. Please visit for more information.


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