82 percent of Canadians believe country is in recession: survey

A new poll suggests a majority of Canadians are pessimistic about the outlook for the economy in 2024, as well as their own finances.

The online survey, conducted by Pollara Strategic Insights, found that 52 per cent of respondents believe the Canadian economy will get worse this year, while 24 per cent said they expect the economy to stay the same and 15 per cent believe upgrade to. Pessimism about the state of the Canadian economy was highest in Quebec and lowest in Ontario.

Additionally, 82 per cent of respondents nationally said they believe Canada is in a recession. Pollara says this is the third-highest total since polling on this issue began in 2001.

While Canada has yet to experience two negative quarters of GDP growth, which has been a working definition of a technical recession often used in the media, some economists say Canada is already in a recession per capita, as immigration has driven much of Canada’s positive economic growth.

Nearly half (46 percent) also said they expect to fall behind financially in 2024, while 38 percent expect to keep pace and eight percent believe they will more than make it.

Food prices also remain the top financial concern for Canadians, with 44 per cent identifying food costs as a major source of stress, followed by housing costs, gas prices and heating bills. Gas cost stress has eased since last year, as gas prices have fallen sharply since peaking in June 2022, topping $2 per liter in most cities.

The cost of food in grocery stores is a top concern across all regions and age groups. However, people in Atlantic Canada were more likely than other regions to worry about home heating bills, and 37 per cent of Atlantic residents said this is a major source of stress. In Atlantic Canada, almost a third of households rely on heating oil, which is rare in other parts of Canada and is more expensive than other types of home heating systems.

Younger Canadians were also more likely to identify housing expenses as a major stressor. Of respondents ages 18 to 34, 45 percent said this was a major source of stress, while only 19 percent of those ages 65 and older said the same.

When asked what words describe their feelings about their personal financial situation, “confident” and “calm” were the two most common words among homeowners with paid mortgages. Meanwhile, renters and homeowners paying mortgages said they were feeling “worried” and “upset.”

Nineteen percent of respondents said they believe they or a family member could lose their job in the next 12 months, reflecting a downward trend from 2021, when 35 percent reported being worried about a possible Job’s lose. Fear of losing a job was most common among those working in blue-collar jobs, with 34 percent answering “yes” to this question.


Pollara conducted an online survey of a randomly selected sample of 1,503 Canadian adults from December 6 to 11, 2023. The margin of error is +/- 2.6 percent, 19 out of 20 times, and the data has been weighted according to gender. Population data by age and region from the last Canadian census.

With files from BNNBloomberg.ca

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