Canada has made great progress in its inflation fight, peaking at an annual rate of 8.1 percent in June and slowing to 5.9 percent in January, according to fresh data from Statistics Canada.
The disinflation process has been a welcomed surprise for monetary policymakers as the Bank of Canada (BoC) decided to hit the pause button on its quantitative tightening campaign by leaving the benchmark interest rate at 4.5 percent, up from nearly zero at the beginning of 2022.
But while Ottawa might be celebrating the recent easing in the annual inflation rate, the Canadian people are still struggling to make ends meet. At a time when the cost of living is spiralling out of control, particularly in the major urban centres, nothing can be taken for granted.
In today’s inflationary environment, there is a growing divide in the inflation perception of the Canadian economy between homeowners and renters in 2023, a new report found.
So, how do renters and mortgage holders feel about a multi-decade-high consumer price index?
How Renters Are Feeling About Inflation in 2023
A new RE/MAX-Empathy study, titled “Fight, Flight or Freeze?” assessed how renters and homeowners cope in the current inflationary landscape. The findings were compelling in the sense that these two categories possessed different attitudes regarding rampant price inflation.
The report discovered that renters are more likely to be “angry” and “upset” about inflation than mortgage holders, who were more likely to feel “fearful.”
Here is a breakdown of answers to the question, “what describes how you feel about the current rising costs of living/inflation?”:
- Mortgage Holders: 70 percent
- Renters: 75 percent
- Mortgage Holders: 36 percent
- Renters: 42 percent
- Mortgage Holders: 67 percent
- Renters: 60 percent
- Mortgage Holders: 61 percent
- Renters: 60 percent
- Mortgage Holders: 4 percent
- Renters: 7 percent
Meanwhile, the same study revealed that renters are generally more cost-conscious about essential items like food, groceries, and medical expenses.
For example, 84 percent of renters are more conscious about food and supermarket prices than 74 percent of mortgage holders. Or in another instance, 38 percent of renters are conscious about health care costs, compared to 23 percent of mortgage holders.
That said, homeowners were more concerned about the price of electronics (24 percent) and vacations (43 percent).
Overall, nearly half (49 percent) of renters say they are unable to maintain their current lifestyle due to surging costs. And yet, Canadians are not adapting to this evolving marketplace, as only 35 percent of respondents said they are reducing their overall spending.
Surprisingly, only a smaller percentage of Canadians are doing what is necessary to keep up with the growing cost of living, such as delaying large purchases (ten percent), pursuing alternate sources of income (eight percent), and working harder to earn more (five percent).
Only one percent of homeowners revealed they are considering selling their residential property.
This comes as Statistics Canada revealed that one-quarter of Canadians could not afford a $500 expense. The struggle is mainly seen in young adults and consumers residing in the Maritimes and Prairies.
But optimism is still paramount nationwide.
“Despite higher levels of concern about increasing cost of living, Canadians aged 25 to 34 years reported the highest level of optimism regarding an improvement in their financial situation in one year, with 37% reporting a belief that it will improve,” the statistics agency noted.
Is More Relief on the Way for Renters?
While rents are at or near all-time highs across the Canadian real estate market, inflation is expected to continue to slide.
In fact, according to RSM Canada, a global consultant and auditing firm, the annual inflation rate will decline to three percent by the end of 2023 and slide to two percent in 2024, which is the BoC’s target rate.
The downside risk? A recession.
“With inflation still elevated and demand surging in Canada, we expect the Bank of Canada to continue raising interest rates to cool an overheating economy,” said Joe Brusuelas, chief economist for RSM, in a statement.
“Despite some positive signs, growing headwinds are hurting the Canadian economy to the point where the rising risk of a recession and a larger-than-expected housing contraction cannot be dismissed.”
Should the central bank slam the brakes on rate hikes, life could become slightly more affordable for renters and homeowners.