IT appears Canadians will be entering 2013 in a more positive mood about their finances than they were a year ago and Prairie residents are the most confident of all, a poll released Thursday suggests.
The Harris-Decima poll conducted for CIBC found that 75 per cent of people from Manitoba and Saskatchewan surveyed were feeling positive about their current financial situation compared to 70 per cent nationally.
But when it came to the question of confidence in reaching future financial goals, the respondents in the Prairies were quite a bit more comfortable than people in the rest of the country.
Nationally, 74 per cent are confident about meeting future financial goals, compared to 84 per cent in Manitoba and Saskatchewan. That was 20 points ahead of Quebec, the least confident region at 64 per cent.
Economic growth in Manitoba and Saskatchewan has been among the most consistent and strongest for years and those provinces have remained relatively immune to concerns about a housing bubble.
Jeff Dillon, the CIBC’s senior director of retail and business banking, believes superior household debt management has something to do with the stronger levels of confidence in Manitoba and Saskatchewan.
"When we look at research from 2012, people in Manitoba and Saskatchewan are roughly the same as the national average when it comes to people telling us they held debt," Dillon said. "But they saw themselves as above average in terms of taking steps to pay that debt down faster."
Nationally, CIBC found that 40 per cent believe they have gone the extra step in making additional payments toward debt, but 56 per cent in Manitoba and Saskatchewan said they are chipping away at their debt.
Dillon believes another area that boosts confidence on the Prairies is the availability of emergency savings.
During the year CIBC asked Canadians if there is cash they could to draw on if they needed to for some purpose.
"That affects your feelings about your current financial position because that is a measure of whether or not you have money if you needed to get it right now," said Dillon.
What they found was 57 per cent of people in Manitoba and Saskatchewan said they had emergency savings, slightly above the national average. Some provinces were in the low 50s.
"That’s not a big difference but there is something to be said for being slightly more likely to have money on hand — and feeling they are doing a somewhat better job at reducing debt," said Dillon. "That speaks to both sides of the short-term balance sheet."
Nationally, people who were 65 and older formed the most confident age group, at 73 per cent feeling positive about their current situation. Respondents aged 25 to 34 were the least satisfied group at 67 per cent.
The survey also found more people who reported confidence about their ability to reach their future financial goals.
The overall average was two percentage points higher than last year, rising to 74 per cent. There was little variation by age group, with all demographics reporting between 73 and 75 per cent.
Christina Kramer, a CIBC executive vice-president, said the survey suggests Canadians are more confident about reaching their long-term financial goals as they head into 2013.
"The next step is to turn that confidence into action by putting plans in place at the start of the year that will help you make progress towards the things that matter most to you," Kramer said.
There was significant variation depending on the region, both in terms of satisfaction about current finance and confidence and attaining future goals.
Only 65 per cent of respondents in British Columbia and the Atlantic region said they felt positive about their financial situation when the poll was conducted. That was 10 percentage points below respondents in Manitoba and Saskatchewan and nine points below respondents in Ontario.
This year’s telephone survey of about 2,000 adults across Canada was conducted between Oct. 25 and Nov. 4.
A sample of this size is considered to be accurate within 2.2 percentage points, 19 times out of 20, on a national basis.
Regional results and other subsets of the national findings are less accurate because of the smaller sample size.
— with files from The Canadian Press