Ottawa distress center seeing increase in calls about finances, inflation

The Distress Center of Ottawa and Region has seen an increase in calls about financial stress in the last year, as inflation reaches levels not seen in decades.

With costs rising, more residents are turning to the distress line for help, says communications manager Leslie Scott.

“We don’t blame people suffering with their mental health with this inflation because it is stressful,” Scott told CTV Morning Live. “It’s stressful seeing the prices go up and up; we’re not getting paid more, we’re not seeing a break in any other areas, and it’s a lot of stress for people.”

A new Angus Reid Institute survey released Friday showed that nearly half of Canadians say they’re doing worse financially now than they were at this time last year.

Statistics Canada reported that the country’s year-over-year rate of inflation hit 7.7 per cent in May, the highest it has been since 1983.

Scott said for younger adults, this is an unknown world.

“Unless you’re over 40, you’ve never seen an inflation happen like this before. The younger generations don’t know how to prepare themselves for this,” she said.

Scott said calls about housing and food were up to 12 per cent this year, compared to seven per cent last year, and calls about financial concerns made up 12 per cent of distress center calls, up from eight per cent in 2021.

“Lots of concern over food, gas, worries about their children and how they’re going to provide for them,” Scott said. “I don’t see it getting any slower, in terms of these conversations, for quite some time.”

The Angus Reid Institute’s Economic Stress Index, which measures financial pressures and respondents’ feelings about them, showed a three-point increase in the number of Canadians who said they were “struggling” with their financial situation in May, and a six-point drop in the number of Canadians who said they were “thriving.” The index measures responses as struggling, uncomfortable, comfortable, or thriving. The number of Canadians who said they were “comfortable” rose three points in May to 29 per cent.

Scott says reaching out to the Ottawa Distress Center is not just about letting off some steam. Its team of volunteers can also direct people to ways to get help.

“Having the conversation with us could help lead you to a community resource. We have over 4,000 community resources at our fingertips,” she said. “We may be able to connect you with something that makes sense for your situation, such as a food bank or a support group.”

The Distress Center of Ottawa and Region can be reached by calling 613-238-3311. You can also converse via text message at 343-306-5550. Its website is

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