Financial Resilience Institute

Jan 29 · 5 mins

Index Reveals Critical Financial Vulnerability Among Low-Income Canadians, Calls for Targeted Support


Financial Resilience Institute publishes new Intelligence Memo showing 28% of Canadians report living with low incomes, with 66% ‘Extremely Vulnerable’ or ‘Financially Vulnerable’ as of June 2023. Those gaining access to financial help are more likely to be financially resilient.


Vancouver, B.C. Jan 29, 2024 – Financial Resilience Institute, the leading authority on financial resilience and well-being in Canada, releases a new Intelligence memo, ‘Financial Vulnerability Challenges for Low-Income Canadians’ based on trended data and its June 2023 Seymour Financial Resilience Index ®.  This report, commissioned by Prosper Canada, provides a call to action for policy makers to support low-income Canadians facing challenges due to the high cost of living and other systemic barriers. The report and other deep-dive reports can be accessed at

“Building Canadians’ financial well-being is critical to building a more resilient, equitable and inclusive Canada,” states Eloise Duncan, CEO and Founder of the Financial Resilience Institute and report author. “Helping to empower and support people to maintain or improve their financial resilience and financial well-being is vital. There is a need for policymakers, financial institutions and others to support more financially vulnerable populations, including low-income Canadians specifically, many of whom are facing significant challenges due to high cost of living and other systemic barriers.”

Based the Institute’s peer-reviewed Seymour Financial Resilience Index ® and June 2023 Financial Well-Being Study [1,2] with a sample size of 5736 adult Canadians including 1592 low-income Canadians, the report focuses on the 28% of Canadians (approximately 6.93 million) who are low-income. These are
defined as adults living in households with incomes under $25,000 and households of more than one individual with household incomes under $50,000, but excluding single person households with a household income between $25,000 and $50,000 [3].


Key Findings:

While financial vulnerability is a mainstream issue affecting 76% of Canadians as of June 2023, for Canadians living with low incomes:

  • 66% are ‘Extremely Vulnerable’ (35%) or ‘Financially Vulnerable’ (31%) compared to 45% of Canadians overall, and only 8% of Canadians with low incomes are ‘Financially Resilient’ compared to 24% of Canadians overall based on the Institute’s Financial Resilience Index model [1].
  • 41% are unable to meet their essential expenses, 61% are experiencing significant financial hardship and 27% are unable to get or afford the food they need.
  • 76% are facing barriers impacting their ability to earn money compared to 56% of Canadians overall.
  • 61% have a negative or zero household savings rate versus 37% of Canadians overall and 41% have a liquid savings buffer of 3 weeks or less versus 24% of Canadians overall.
  • Unmanageable debt is a growing concern for households with low incomes. 42.6% low-income Canadians somewhat or completely agree that they have increased their borrowing to help pay for everyday expenses versus one third of Canadians overall. 49% somewhat or completely agree that, as a result of the increased cost of living, their household has drawn down on savings to service their debt.
  • Low-income Canadians are less able to access financial help programs and services, and those able to access this support are more likely to be financially resilient.
  • 13% (approximately 800,000 people with low incomes) report they could not access financial help programs or services over the past 12 months (e.g., provided by non-profit organizations supporting people facing barriers or hardship), compared to 8% of Canadians overall.
  • 8% (approximately 526,000 people) could not access tax filing help or support to receive government benefits they were entitled to over the past 12 months compared to 2% of Canadians overall.
  • The mean financial resilience score of low-income Canadians who were able to access financial help programs or services in June 2023 was 42.06, compared to 27.53 for those unable to access this financial help. Similarly, the financial resilience score of low-income Canadians who were able to access tax filing help was 41.16 compared to 28.08 for those unable to access this help.


“These findings speak to the extraordinary financial pressure on low-income households and the urgent need to expand their access to trustworthy and affordable financial help,” commented Elizabeth Mulholland, CEO of Prosper Canada. “This degree of hardship is untenable and people with low incomes need on the ground help now to access all of the income available to them and to tackle affordability and money challenges.”

“The Institute’s Index and study spotlights improved financial resilience outcomes for low-income people able to access financial help, with this in turn having positive impacts on their health and well-being and other social outcomes.” concludes Duncan.



For further information on the Intelligence memo or an interview please contact:

Eloise Duncan, CEO and Founder:
Vesselina Davenport, PR Manager:


About Financial Resilience Institute

Financial Resilience Institute is a non-profit organization dedicated to improving the financial resilience and well-being of Canadians and global citizens. It is the leading independent authority on financial resilience and financial well-being in Canada. The Institute partners with financial institutions, business leaders and policymakers to development and implement solutions that improve financial resilience, health and well-being for all.


About Prosper Canada

Prosper Canada is a national charity dedicated to expanding economic opportunity for Canadians living in poverty through program and policy innovation. Prosper Canada works with government, business, and community partners to develop and promote financial policies, programs and resources that remove barriers and help more Canadians to prosper.

[1] The Financial Well-Being study is Canada’s most robust national independent study on the financial well-being of Canadians. It is an online survey conducted by the Institute launched in 2017 and conducted three times a year. The June 2023 study has a sample size of 5736 adult Canadians aged 18 to 70 years from a representative sample of the population by province, age, gender and household income, including a boost sample of 1592 low-Income Canadians. Ecosystem reports are available at

[2] The Seymour Financial Resilience Index ® measures household financial resilience, defined as the ability to get through financial hardship, stressors and shocks as a result of unplanned life events across nine behavioural, sentiment and resilience indicators. The peer-reviewed Index is based on the nuances of the Canadian consumer and ecosystem and has a pre-pandemic baseline of February 2020. It measures household financial resilience at the national and provincial levels, for key segments such as low- income Canadians and at the individual household level. ‘Extremely Vulnerable’ households have a financial resilience score of 0 to 30; ‘Financially Vulnerable’ a score of 30.01 to 50; ‘Approaching Resilience’ a score of 50.01 and ‘Financially Resilient’ a score of 70.01 to 100. Information on the Index development methodology and indicators are available at

[3] Reported household incomes are defined as total household income from all sources in 2022 before taxes and deductions. Sources of income can include wages or salaries from employer(s), self-employment earnings, government and private pensions, spousal or child support payments received and other sources of income.


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