Financial stress levels have risen across the board in Canada since the onset of the COVID-19 pandemic.
This is according to a report from Manulife Investment Management, which found that 27% of Canadian workers are reporting high levels of financial stress, up from 11% before the pandemic. Further, while only 44% of respondents reported experiencing some financial stress prior to the pandemic, the number grew to 67% following the outbreak.
More than half of the 1,026 employees surveyed (51%) said they are dipping into their emergency savings or increasing credit card balances since the beginning of the pandemic, while only one-third of survey respondents feel their situations will improve in the coming year.
“This year has challenged employers and employees alike to do business and work in novel ways,” said Brett Marchand, head of Canada retirement at Manulife Investment Management. “Employers are in a unique position to support their employees, including alleviating financial stress and offering advice and guidance, which employers can provide through a holistic financial wellness offering."
The survey notes that employers can step in for their employees and offer guidance. Three-quarters (75%) of respondents claim that an employer-sponsored financial wellness program would positively impact their financial stress. And 80% said that simply setting financial goals would be helpful.
About 90% of respondents said they feel it is important for employers to offer financial wellness programs, and 30% claim their employer offers a fairly or very extensive financial wellness program. However, nearly one in five said they are unsure if their employer offers a program at all.
“Given the upheaval experienced in 2020 to-date, it’s no surprise that retirement savers are more stressed today than they were pre-COVID,” said Sue Reibel, global head of retirement at Manulife Investment Management. “The silver lining in this year’s data is that people are more open to financial advice than in years past. In this environment, when faced with managing multiple pressures, stress is high and responsibilities are piling up, and retirement investors are looking for a trusted source of advice when it comes to navigating their finances.”