Tackling debt remains Canadians’ number one financial priority for 11th year in a row: CIBC poll


Keeping up with bills and just getting by also top of mind as Canadians manage through the pandemic

TORONTO,¬†Dec. 29, 2020¬†/CNW/ –¬†Despite a global pandemic and financial uncertainties, a new CIBC study finds that for the 11th¬†straight year, paying down debt remains the number one financial priority for Canadians heading into the new year (20 per cent), followed closely by keeping up with bills/getting by at¬†18 per cent. ¬†Optimism for the year ahead has declined, as fewer Canadians believe their financial situation will improve in 2021, significantly lower than a year ago (24 per cent¬†versus¬†32 per cent¬†in 2019).

CIBC-Tackling debt remains Canadians- number one financial prior
CIBC Poll: Financial Priorities Poll December 2020 (CNW Group/CIBC)

Pessimism about the year ahead is driven by concerns about a possible economic downturn (78 per cent, up from 55 per cent in 2019). Top concerns for many over the next twelve months include inflation and the rising costs of goods (60 per cent) and slow overall economic growth (34 per cent). The uncertainty of the current environment is also making it difficult to plan ahead, say most survey respondents (71 per cent).


“Canadians have faced so many challenges this year, it’s understandable they are concerned about the economy in 2021. ¬†If this year has taught us anything, it’s that we don’t always know what’s coming next¬†and the best buffer for the unexpected is to be prepared with a plan and be open to adjusting it when circumstances change,” said¬†Carissa Lucreziano, Vice-President, CIBC Financial and Investment Advice.

Close to half (43 per cent) say their personal finances have been negatively impacted by the pandemic. Of those impacted, half (52 per cent) say they don’t have the advice and information they need to get their finances on track, and almost half (46 per cent) believe it will take more than 12 months to get back on track. Almost three-quarters (74 per cent) of respondents say they held back from borrowing more in 2020.

“With the uncertainties we’ve experienced this year, over half of Canadians say they need to get a better handle on their finances next year and many say they could use expert planning advice. An advisor can act as a guide to help with priorities such as balancing debt with savings, creating a solid plan to weather difficult times and keeping you on track to meet your financial ambitions,” added Ms. Lucreziano.

Ms. Lucreziano suggests the following tips for financial management during uncertain times:

  • Cash-flow planning: keep track of all your income, whether through paycheques, government benefits, rental properties, investments or others. Then, track your spending, including any automatic payments out of credit cards or debit accounts, to get a realistic picture of where your money is going, where you can cut back, and how best to redistribute funds.

  • Consider consolidation and credit-planning: there are several ways to improve your credit . An advisor can help with looking at overall debt loads, interest rates and costs associated with each. Next, the best steps to repayment can be considered, including combining multiple debts into one loan, which can make it easier to manage payments and may lower overall interest costs.

  • Stay focused and flexible: no matter what challenges the external environment may pose, to the best of your ability, keep focused on your financial goals and remain open to revising your plan to meet your ambitions.

Ms. Lucreziano shares more insights in a video here.

Key poll findings:

  • Top reasons for taking on more debt this year was day-to-day expenses beyond their monthly income (39 per cent) and loss of income (27 per cent)

  • Top dream bucket list items include: travelling (43 per cent, down 22 per cent from 2019) and reaching a personal fitness goal or starting a creative hobby (17 per cent)

  • Fewer Canadians believe that their financial situation will improve, significantly lower vs. a year ago (24 per cent vs. 32 per cent in 2019)

To help clients  stay on track with their ambitions for the long-term, CIBC recently launched the CIBC GoalPlanner, an innovative new platform that takes the complexity out of goal setting.  Available now to CIBC Imperial Service clients, the CIBC GoalPlanner modernizes and simplifies the goal setting experience, enabling clients to digitally kick start their planning through CIBC Online Banking. Clients then work with their advisor to get the expert advice and insights needed to build their long-term plans, and can use the CIBC GoalPlanner to track their progress anytime. CIBC GoalPlanner also gives clients a full view of their finances and highlights opportunities, shortfalls and surpluses in areas such as cash flow, so that they have a clear understanding of opportunities to further their progress and know what it takes to achieve their goals.

Additionally, on January 28, 2021, CIBC is hosting free English and French webinars featuring a panel of CIBC experts sharing insights and tips to help Canadians build financial confidence and set goals heading into the new year.


From November 26th to November 29th 2020 an online survey of 3,028 randomly selected Canadian adults who are Maru Voice Canada panelists was executed by Maru/Blue. For comparison purposes, a probability sample of this size has an estimated margin of error (which measures sampling variability) of +/- 2.5%, 19 times out of 20. The results have been weighted by education, age, gender and region (and in Quebec, language) to match the population, according to Census data. This is to ensure the sample is representative of the entire adult population of Canada. Discrepancies in or between totals are due to rounding.

Cover Picture: Photo by Michelle Spollen on Unsplash