More British Columbians report being in a position to cover an unexpected expense of $500 than their fellow Canadians, according to a Statistics Canada poll released Feb. 13.
In B.C., nearly one in five residents report they would have difficulty meeting such a payment, whereas the rate is about one in four (26 per cent) across Canada, reaching as high as one in three in Atlantic provinces and 28 per cent in Alberta.
There is a slightly larger percentage of women (29 per cent) reporting this difficulty than men (24 per cent) and younger people are more vulnerable to such a shock, as 35 per cent of people aged 35 to 44 years said that they would be unable to cover the expense, compared to 30 per cent of people aged 45 to 54.
Among racialized groups, 51 per cent of Black Canadians reported they would have trouble covering the $500 expense. The rate drops to 14 per cent among Chinese Canadians.
The Canadian Social Survey also polled respondents on housing prices and high price inflation on goods and services experienced in 2022.
Nearly half of British Columbians (46 per cent) reported being concerned about their ability to afford housing or rent, compared to 39 per cent in the Atlantic and Prairie provinces.
The poll found more concern among younger people and some racialized groups, although not all.
When asked if they were concerned about their ability to afford housing or rent, 58 per cent of people aged 15 to 24 years reported being “very concerned,” followed by 56 per cent of those aged 25 to 34 years and just 27 per cent of those aged 65+.
Black Canadians were most concerned about housing prices, at 74 per cent, followed by 65 per cent of South Asians, 48 per cent of Chinese and 38 per cent of “non-racialized, non-Indigenous” people.
The poll, published online, notes Canada saw the largest increase in the Consumer Price Index (CPI) since 1982 (10.9 per cent), with an increase of 6.8 per cent since 2021. Prices rose for all eight major components of the CPI, with the largest increases in transportation (10.6 per cent), food (8.9 per cent) and shelter (6.9 per cent).