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35% of Canadians Fear Interest Rate Hikes Will Plunge Them Into Bankruptcy

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Over half of Canadians are biting their nails in anticipation of the Bank of Canada’s next interest rate hike, widely believed to be next month.

An Ipsos poll conducted for bankruptcy advisory firm MNP LTD demonstrated that 55% of Canadians aren’t confident they can withstand interest rate hikes, while 54% are more concerned they might have trouble repaying debts than they used to be. Thirty-five percent of Canadians fear rising interest rates could plunge them into bankruptcy.

 “As we approach what is likely to be the first of several interest rate increases in the coming year, more Canadians are concerned about how they would cope,” Grant Bazian, President of MNP LTD., said in a press release. “The most vulnerable are those who have taken on credit to get by and aren’t able to pay down the debt. The added debt servicing costs are coming at a time when many Canadians are already finding it less affordable to feed their families or pay for things like housing.”

Read: Borrowers Could Be Hit with a Tougher Mortgage Stress Test This Year

Sixty-one percent of Canadians due for mortgage renewal in the next 12 months expressed trepidation about looming rate hikes, and 75% of respondents who have borrowed money they weren’t able to repay quickly, or who only pay minimum balances on credit cards and personal loans, think they will be in trouble. Perhaps unsurprisingly, 80% of respondents who described their personal financial situation as ‘poor’ are most likely to believe they will be imperilled by interest rate increases.

Variable Debt Holders Most Vulnerable

Talk of a string of rate hikes this year will make life difficult for variable-rate mortgage holders, Bazian says, and it might impel households to adjust their budgets for what he says are hundreds or thousands of dollars more in mortgage-related costs. He added that even Canadians who have taken out HELOCs will be similarly affected.

Young Canadians will also feel the brunt of higher rates, according to the Ipsos poll. Forty-nine percent of Canadians 18-34 said higher interest rates could move them closer to bankruptcy, while 41% of people 35-54 responded in kind. Moreover, Canadians below the age of 55 are more likely to report they’re feeling the effects of rate hikes, including 56% of the 18-34 cohort and 57% of the 35-54 group.

Inflation has also made life more expensive for Canadians in the last year, with 47% stating that feeding their families is harder, 44% having trouble putting money away, 40% having trouble purchasing closing and other household necessities, 36% having trouble with transportation needs, 35% having difficulty with housing expenditures, and 31% finding debt payments difficult.

Read: Inflation Hit 5.1% in January, Highest Since September 1991

A whopping 81% of respondents said they will be careful how they spend their money, including 74% of Canadians who consider their financial situations excellent.

A quarter of respondents are unsure of how interest rate hikes will affect their financial situations, and 20% of Canadians are concerned about their ability to absorb a percentage point rate hike. Of Canadians who described their financial situations as ‘poor,’ 67% aren’t prepared for rate hikes, while 51% of Canadians who will have trouble repaying debts do not believe they can absorb a one-point hike.

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