Financial pressures are impacting Canadians’ ability to seek health care as one in five workers have cut back on health-related expenses due to inflation, according to Telus Health’s latest Mental Health Index.
The study found that seven per cent of the 3,000 workers surveyed have cut back on prescription medication.
People without emergency savings were more than three times as likely to reduce spending on prescription medication and more than twice as likely to decrease other health-related expenses. Parents were also 70 per cent more likely than non-parents to trim expenses related to their health. As a result, those who have made cutbacks have lower metal health scores than the national average.
“The current economic environment is leading many employees to feel pressure to prioritize finances over their health and well-being,” Michael Dingle, Telus Health chief operating officer, said in a press release. “This is an impossible choice as one is not mutually exclusive from the other — in fact, financial well-being is a fundamental contributor to overall health.”
One in five workers also indicated that financial pressure has caused a decline in their marital/partner relationship, with parents being 60 per cent more likely than non-parents to experience that.
A separate poll by the Bank of Nova Scotia revealed similar findings about how rising cost pressures are impacting Canadians. It found that the amount of time Canadians spend worrying about their finances is now equivalent to a part-time job or roughly 31 days a year. That’s 15 hours a week spent worrying about their finances, up from 10 hours from the same period last year.
“Canadians continue to feel the impact of higher prices on their wallets, and this is leading to more time spent worrying,” Kingsley Chak, senior vice-president of retail deposits, savings and investments at Scotiabank, said in a press release. “For most Canadians, their income has not kept pace with the rising costs of what they buy, with groceries and gas continuing to be the biggest drivers of strain for households.”
People spend the most time worrying about paying for day-to-day expenses (44 per cent), paying off debt (39 per cent) and saving for emergencies (38 per cent), according to the poll, which interviewed 1,505 Canadians. It also found that 73 per cent are highly concerned about the rising cost of living and their incomes are not keeping up with inflation (71 per cent). And 72 per cent are looking for ways to stretch their dollars, with 57 per cent giving up the small things they want in order to afford the things they need.
A further one in four Canadians are so stressed about their finances that they are losing sleep over it, with younger generations significantly more stressed than their older counterparts.
The outlook continues to look dreary for 2023, with one in five Canadians expecting their financial situation to get worse in the next six months, but there are things they can do to help, Chak said.
“With so much time spent worrying, Canadians can find peace of mind by speaking with a financial adviser who can help them achieve their financial goals,” he said. “A simple conversation can alleviate worrisome questions about their financial future, and free up a substantial amount of time.”