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Over two thirds (69%) of British Columbians have had their RRSPS/savings negatively impacted, and a large minority have seen a negative impact on their ability to pay household expenses (31%), put food on the table (21%), property values (34%), and their ability to pay their rent (41%) or mortgage (29%).

Vancouver, BC —After two months of social isolation, BC residents are feeling the financial impact of COVID-19, as the majority has been negatively impacted on a number of different fronts in their household, resulting in a significant minority who are having trouble paying their rent, mortgage or other expenses.

The majority (54%) of British Columbians say they have been negatively impacted by the COVID-19 pandemic, including 11% who say it has had a ‘major negative impact’ and a higher proportion (43%) who say it has had a ‘moderate negative impact’. There is a large group (40%) for whom there has been no negative financial impact, and a fortunate few (6%) who are financially better off than before the crisis. As our previous polls have uncovered, the negative financial impact is felt more acutely among younger residents of our province (60% of 18-34’s negatively impacted versus 49% of those 55+).

The pandemic has had an interesting positive effect among some however, as 26% of British Columbians are actually saving more money than usual. It’s interesting to note that there is a larger proportion of 18-34 year-olds who are the savers (40%) versus any other age group (28% of 35-54’s, and 18% of 55+). A further 31% indicate there has been no impact on savings one way or the other, and 35% are saving less than usual. A relatively small proportion (13%) of BC residents are going into debt to cover their expenses in the short term, and at the extreme end of the spectrum, 6% are likely to declare personal bankruptcy as a result of the pandemic.

The financial devastation has been multifaceted, impacting a number of different aspects of individuals’ wealth. A large number of BC residents (69%) have noticed a negative impact on their savings or RRSP’s, and 40% of business owners have seen a negative impact on the financial health of their business. At a day-to-day level, 31% indicate the ability to pay their regular household bills has been negatively affected, and 21% that the crisis has had a negative impact on their ability to put food on the table. Fully one-third (34%) of property owners believe it has already negatively impacted the value of the property they own.

Of the renters in the province, 41% say this pandemic has had a negative impact on their ability to pay their monthly rent, and while 85% of renters have managed to pay their rent since the crisis began, the remaining 15% have taken a number of actions including asked their landlord to reduce rent (5%) or a deferral (6%), taken part in the province’s rental subsidy program (7%), or simply not paid rent altogether (2%).

A smaller number (29%) of homeowners say the pandemic has had a negative impact on their ability to pay their mortgage, and most (87%) have been able to stay up to date with their payments. Of those who haven’t, only a sliver (1%) have defaulted, while the 12% of homeowners have made deferral arrangements with their lender.

While it is difficult to gauge the final economic tally of the pandemic in dollar terms to the economy, our survey did try to begin to quantify the damage caused—and we found that three-quarters (76%) of British Columbians able to estimate say the pandemic has so far cost them a quantifiable negative amount of money. At the fringe of the curve are 5% of residents who have lost over $100K, and 7% between $50K and just under $100K. More than a third (38%) of residents have lost between $5K and just under $50K, and 26% less than $5K. Our provincial economy is worth $295B annually, and from calculations using the mid-point values of the categories residents choose, the economic tally thus far is approximately $50B, or approximately 17% of our provincial economy.

“The vast economic toll has yet to be fully felt in British Columbia” says Steve Mossop, president of Insights West. “We have only begun to measure the impact economically on individuals; the leading indicators are lagging and have not yet fully baked in the economic impact of the virus on the economy in BC yet. Our survey gives a glimpse into the homes of BC residents and the result shows that the economic pain is deep given the percentage of British Columbians who say they have been impacted.”


About Insights West:

Insights West is a full-service marketing research firm based in Western Canada. Since 2012, the company has conducted over one million surveys, executed 2,000 studies, and issued over 350 press releases on a variety of topics, correctly predicting the outcomes of 24 out of 25 elections and plebiscites. Insights West is a team of passionate, truth-seeking researchers who question everything to uncover the truth and what is emerging for a diverse set of clients. With an understanding of shifting markets, consumer and societal trends, and commitment to uncovering truths through a proprietary toolkit and innovative research approaches, Insights West helps organizations make better decisions.

About this Release:

Results are based on an online study conducted from May 6, 2020 to May 7, 2020 among a sample of 747 BC residents. The margin of error—which measures sample variability—is +/- 3.6 percentage points, 19 times out of 20. Discrepancies between totals are due to rounding. Click HERE to view the detailed data tabulations.

For further information, please contact:

Steve Mossop
Insights West