As British Columbia prepares to enter phase-three of the COVID-19 re-opening plan, a new Coast Capital Savings poll hosted on the Angus Reid Forum confirms the pandemic has had a significant impact on the employment and personal finances of many British Columbians.

The results also highlight that, while it continues to be a challenging time for a lot of people, most appear to be weathering the storm through a combination of savings, tightening their budgets and government support.

The online survey hosted on the Angus Reid Forum was conducted between June 17th and June 21st among 802 Lower Mainland and Vancouver Island residents.

The poll found the COVID-19 pandemic has impacted the employment of 38 per cent of working British Columbians in the last three months, while 37 per cent say their personal finances have worsened and 23 per cent say their debt levels have increased over the same period of time.

One-quarter (28 per cent) of respondents who make monthly rent or mortgage payments, say they have missed or provided partial payment on their rent or mortgage. At the same time, provincial and federal supports appear to have been valuable to 25 per cent of those who are employed or are students, who accessed a top-up or income replacement.

Not surprisingly, the past three months have presented challenges related to budgeting and saving. One in four (27 per cent) respondents suggest their ability to set and stick to budgets got worse, 39 per cent say it’s negatively impacted their ability to contribute to short term savings, while (42 per cent) say they have relied on savings to make ends meet.

“This is an incredibly stressful time for many individuals and families,” said Matt Atkinson, Director, Strategic Initiatives, Coast Capital Savings. “The impact was swift, wide-reaching and significant for those who haven’t accumulated savings or rainy-day fund to help provide a cushion.”

The poll does offer some positive news with three-quarters of respondents saying there has been no change in their ability to meet rent or mortgage obligations, almost three-quarters (72 per cent) say the pandemic hasn’t impacted their ability to set and stick to their budget, and 55 per cent of those who already had a budget, say they are being more diligent with budgeting in response to the COVID-19 implications.

“It won’t necessarily be a worldwide pandemic that presents the next financial challenge for your family,” continues Atkinson. “It might be a surprise roof leak or the need for expensive car repairs, but it is inevitable that there will be something that you hadn’t budgeted for. Use the motivation and momentum from lessons learned during COVID to reassess your readiness for the unexpected. There are lots of resources, there is no need to figure it out on your own. A great place to start is by having a conversation with your trusted financial advisor.”