Housing prices buffet confidence

In B.C. and Ontario, many higher-income earners worry about paying bills

A leading researcher of Canadian cultural trends says extravagant prices for homes in Vancouver and Toronto could be a reason why a poll found a quarter of Canadians who earn more than $100,000 a year worry about meeting their financial obligations.

The survey for the Association for Canadian Studies found 22.8 per cent of respondents in the income category were at least somewhat worried about their ability to pay monthly bills.

"Initially, I was kind of like, 'Really? Jeez, that's surprising,'" said Jack Jedwab, executive director of the association. "But then when I looked at the geographic data, it occurred to me that the people worried most about paying their monthly bills are in Ontario and British Columbia."

Indeed, 51.5 per cent of the Ontario respondents were at least somewhat worried about paying their bills. This was true for 50.5 per cent of the B.C. respondent. When you've got places such as Vancouver and Toronto "where the price of housing is, on average, the highest in the country - that's probably causing a fair share of your perceived financial challenges," Jedwab said.

According to the Real Estate Board of Greater Vancouver, the benchmark price for homes in March was $679,000, up 5.3 per cent from a year earlier. The Toronto Real Estate Board said the average price in the Greater Toronto Area in early April was $506,954.

Nationally, 44.2 per cent of respondents expressed some concern about meeting their expenses. Concern was lowest in Saskatchewan and Manitoba at 28.3 per cent, while the concerns affected 32.5 per cent of respondents in Alberta, 39.5 per cent in Quebec and 41 per cent in the Atlantic provinces.

The data was based on surveys by Leger Marketing between March 16 and 18 of about 1,500 Canadians from an online panel. A random phone survey of this size would accurately represent the population within 2.9 percentage points, 19 times out of 20.


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