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Friday, March 13, 2009

"Shaken but Not Suffering – Canadians’ Reaction to the Economic Crisis," POLLARA, January 7, 2009.

Canadians have reached a 25-year low in optimism and confidence toward the Canadian economy, yet are surprisingly more bullish toward their personal financial situations - according to the Annual POLLARA Financial Outlook Survey for the Economic Club of Canada.

TORONTO January 7, 2009 – A majority of Canadians expect 2009 to be a year in which the Canadian economy worsens, employment levels drop substantially, inflation spirals, taxes surge, the national debt balloons, and the value of the Canadian dollar depreciates. But despite this record-high pessimism – the highest recorded in 25 years of polling – Canadians report that their personal financial situation was better than they expected in 2008, and they anticipate personal financial growth in 2009.

These findings are from a new national poll released this morning by Michael Marzolini, Chairman of POLLARA Strategic Insights, at the annual Economic Outlook Conference of the Economic Club of Canada, which was addressed by Mr. Marzolini and the Chief Economists from Canada's five largest chartered banks. The poll has been conducted every year since 1985.

The poll indicates that:

* 91% of Canadians believe Canada is currently in a recession, up from 22% in January 2008.
* 57% believe the Canadian economy will worsen over the next twelve months, compared to 20% who think it will improve.
* 68% believe the U.S. economy will worsen over the next twelve months, compared to 15% who think it will improve.
* 68% of Canadians expect their country’s employment situation to worsen, versus 12% who expect improvement.
* 50% expect inflation to increase, versus 21% who expect the recession to be deflationary.
* 49% expect taxes to increase, compared to 13% who expect tax reductions.
* 80% expect the national debt to increase, compared to 4% who think it will be reduced.
* 59% expect the Canadian dollar to depreciate in value against the U.S. currency, versus 16% who think it will make gains.
* 31% expect that they or a member of their immediate family may lose their job in 2009, an increase from 19% in 2008.

Yet at the same time:

* Some 17% of Canadians report their personal financial situation improved in 2008 (up 1% from 2007), 45% kept pace in 2008 (up 3%), and 36% fell behind in 2008 (down 3%)
* With respect to household income versus the cost of living, 8% of Canadians expect their income will outpace the cost of living in 2009 (unchanged from 2008), 41% will keep pace in 2009 (up 4%) and 48% will fall behind in 2009 (down 2%).

The poll also showed an expectation that the recession will last about 18 months, though 3 in 10 Canadians expect it to endure as long as 2 years.

“There seems to be a perplexing disconnect in current public opinion. While Canadians overwhelmingly feel the economy is in deep crisis, on average many feel unaffected to date, and in fact expect their personal financial situation to be maintained or even improved in 2009. But don’t for a minute think that they are laid-back about the situation – they are truly alarmed for the country as a whole – they just don’t think it will happen to them” said Michael Marzolini.

Marzolini also pointed out that the Canadian public is currently favorable toward almost any step that government could take to boost the economy. “They are firmly interventionist, in a way we haven’t seen since the 1980s. They don’t know the solution to the current crisis, but currently endorse all types of direct government intervention including infrastructure spending, job retraining, tax cuts, and even bailouts and protectionism.”

The national sample of 2,670 Canadians surveyed for this study was randomly selected from the “POLLARA Crisis Watch” Online Panel between December 11th and 15th, 2008. Data was weighted to ensure that the sample's demographics reflect that of the actual adult Canadian population according to Census data. The margin of error on a probability sample of 2,670 adult Canadians is +/-2%, 19 times out of 20, of what they would have been had the entire population been polled. The same survey is conducted every year for presentation and discussion at a session of the Economic Club of Canada featuring Mr. Marzolini and the Chief Economists from Canada's five largest chartered banks.

POLLARA is Canada's largest strategic insights, market research and opinion polling firm, with offices in seven cities across Canada and the United States. POLLARA publishes the “POLLARA Crisis Watch” a frequently updated subscriber-based analysis of what people are doing with their money in reaction to the current economic situation.

The full results to this survey, complete with question wording, can be found at

Report [PDF]
Interview Schedule [PDF]

For further information:
Michael Marzolini, Chairman, POLLARA Inc., (416) 921-0090 x-2230,;
Mark Adler, President, Economic Club of Canada, (416) 306-0899


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