‘Tsunami of stress’: Canadians worry about finances more than health, survey finds

CALGARY (CityNews) — Even in a public-health crisis, personal health isn’t the top source of stress for most Canadians. It’s money.

The 2021 Canada Financial Stress Index reveals 2-in-5 Canadians say money is their No. 1 source of stress in life, more than personal health, work or relationships.

The online survey of 1,510 Canadians was completed between April 30 and May 2.

“I am seeing a lot of folks who are really anxious, really stressed out, really worried,” said psychologist Dr. Brent Macdonald. “They have lost health care coverage, they have lost employment

“Money is immediate. When we get that invoice or bill in our mailbox or online, as soon as we open that, we are stressed. Health on the other hand is more of a long-term gain. In which we exercise, we get good sleep, we eat well. If we do all those healthy things, we see long-term benefits. But short-term benefits isn’t as powerful as opening up that credit card statement.”

Economist Moshe Lander of Montreal’s Concordia University says the way governments have dealt with the pandemic has made people stress more about money than health.

“The whole thing of the last eighteen months has been this constant trade-off between health of the economy and health of the people,” said Lander. “So what we have seen in the various waves is to varying degrees that the provinces have all approached differently but when they start to push to try and protect the health of Canadians, it comes at the expense of the health of the economy.

“So when they realize that they pushed the pendulum too far, the moment the COVID numbers start coming down, the moment hospitalizations start coming down, then the pendulum starts pushing back the other way.”

The survey further reveals that women (54%) are more likely than men (47%) to say they’ve lost sleep because of financial worries.

That means financial stress is directly impacting people’s health and sleep patterns.

“If we are not sleeping, we have trouble with concentrating, we are more irritable, that has an impact on our relationships,” said Macdonald. “Then we are stressed about relationships so this creates an ongoing almost tsunami of stress and worry and leading the chart for a lot of folks is that financial stress.”

The recent survey marks the fourth time in a row that money has been cited as the biggest cause of stress for Canadians.
Lander says he’s not at all surprised.

“It’s kind of interesting when these results come out that we realize we are maybe a little more capitalist, free market sort of Americans than we like to think,” said Lander.

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