Canadians are feeling somewhat better about their financial situation heading into a new year and decade, according to exclusive polling conducted by Ipsos for Global News.
“Two in three Canadians say their financial situation is good,” said Sean Simpson, vice president of Ipsos.
According to the poll data, 65 per cent of Canadians said they felt very good or somewhat good, a figure up four percentage points from one year ago.
The greatest barrier to the feeling of financial security is housing costs and debt, respondents said.
According to the new poll, 16 per cent of those polled said paying their mortgage or rent is the most significant obstacle to financial security. Servicing debt was identified by 14 per cent of respondents.
In the debt category, credit card debt (13 per cent) was the greatest challenge, followed by student debt (one per cent).
But those living in Atlantic Canada identified credit card debt (21 per cent) as a much more significant obstacle.
More men (53 per cent) said they faced no barriers to financial security compared to women (47 per cent) who responded to the poll question.
Educated Canadians and men over 54 said they did not face barriers.
Higher-income Canadians with an average household income of $83,000 per year felt the most comfortable compared to households with an annual income of $60,000.
Albertans are more likely than other Canadians to describe their financial situation as very or somewhat “bad.”
According to the poll, 49 per cent of Albertans described their financial situation negatively, 14 points higher than the national average.
Forty per cent of those living in Saskatchewan and Manitoba felt financially squeezed compared to 37 per cent in Ontario, 30 per cent in British Columbia and 29 per cent in Quebec.
The most financially contented Canadians are in Atlantic Canada at 23 per cent.
“Roughly eight in 10 Canadians say they’re in a good place,” Simpson said in an interview.
A majority of Canadians (57 per cent) told Ipsos they faced some financial challenges in 2019.
The poll revealed 38 per cent of Canadians reduced non-essential spending, like travel or entertainment. Another 28 per cent said they had reduced spending on essential items, including food or clothing.
Albertans (38 per cent) claimed to have cut essential spending in 2019.
Nationally, 43 per cent of respondents said they did not cut spending in any way.
While many Canadians are feeling better about their financial security, it may be at the expense of their romantic life.
“It’s interesting to note an inverse relationship between one’s financial situation and one’s sex life,” said Simpson.
The Ipsos poll found that 59 per cent of Canadians rate their sex or romantic life as good. That’s a three percentage point decline over the last year.
Those who live in Ontario are the least satisfied (51 per cent) compared to Canadians living in Atlantic Canada (65 per cent) and B.C. (66 per cent).
Canadians most satisfied with their romantic life are in Quebec (67 per cent).
Simpson suggests there may be a correlation between financial satisfaction and declining romantic happiness.
“Maybe people are reining in their spending, maybe they’re not going out for that romantic dinner, buying the box of chocolates or bouquet of flowers and their sex life is suffering as a result.”
This Ipsos poll, conducted on behalf of Global News, was an online survey of 1,002 Canadians conducted between Dec. 3 and 5, 2019. The results were weighted to better reflect the composition of the adult Canadian population, according to census data. The precision of Ipsos online polls is measured using a credibility interval. In this case, the poll is considered accurate to within plus or minus 3.5 percentage points, 19 times out of 20.
© 2019 Global News, a division of Corus Entertainment Inc.
What you need to know about the coronavirus right now
Here’s what you need to know about the coronavirus right now:
Indian variant spreads around globe
India’s tally of coronavirus infections climbed past 24 million on Friday, amid reports flowed that the highly transmissible variant first detected there was spreading around the globe.
The Indian B.1.617 variant has been found in eight nations in the Americas, including Canada and the United States, said Jairo Mendez, an infectious diseases expert with the World Health Organization.
Britain will adapt its vaccine rollout to protect people more quickly in areas where the Indian variant has emerged, the vaccine minister said on Friday.
Nearly half the 150 passengers booked on Australia’s first repatriation flight from India were barred from boarding on Friday, after they or their close contacts tested positive.
Lab leak theory cannot be ruled out
The origin of the novel coronavirus is still unclear and the theory that it was caused by a laboratory leak needs to be taken seriously until there is a rigorous data-led investigation that proves it wrong, a group of leading scientists said.
“More investigation is still needed to determine the origin of the pandemic,” said the 18 scientists, including Ravindra Gupta, a clinical microbiologist at the University of Cambridge, and Jesse Bloom, who studies the evolution of viruses at the Fred Hutchinson Cancer Research Center.
“Theories of accidental release from a lab and zoonotic spillover both remain viable,” the scientists said in a letter to the journal Science.
Singapore brings in strictest curbs since lockdown
Singapore announced on Friday the strictest curbs on social gatherings and public activities since easing a lockdown last year, amid a rise in locally acquired infections and with new coronavirus clusters forming in recent weeks.
The new measures announced by the health ministry, which will be in force from Sunday to mid June, include limiting social gatherings to two people and ceasing dining in at restaurants.
“This is clearly a setback in our fight against COVID-19,” said Lawrence Wong, the minister for education who co-chairs Singapore’s coronavirus taskforce.
Japan adds 3 prefectures to state of emergency
Japan said on Friday it would declare a state of emergency in three more prefectures hit hard by the pandemic, in a surprise move reflecting growing concerns about the virus’s spread.
The latest state of emergency declarations would come as Japan grapples with a surge of a more infectious strain of COVID-19 just 10 weeks before the Tokyo Olympics are due to start.
Hokkaido, Okayama and Hiroshima will join Tokyo, Osaka and four other prefectures on Sunday under a state of emergency until May 31.
Taiwan community transmissions spread
Taiwan reported a record rise in domestic COVID-19 cases on Friday with 29 new infections, as community transmissions in part of central Taipei spread and the government called for people to be tested.
While Taiwan has reported just 1,291 cases, mostly imported from abroad, a recent small rise in domestic infections has spooked a population long used to the island’s relative safety.
Health Minister Chen Shih-chung told a news conference that of the 29 new domestic infections many were connected with an outbreak in Taipei’s Wanhua district, an often gritty area of old temples, trendy shops and hostess bars.
(Compiled by Linda Noakes; Editing by Giles Elgood)
Hong Kong freezes listed shares of media tycoon Lai under security law
Hong Kong authorities on Friday froze assets belonging to jailed media tycoon Jimmy Lai, including all shares in his company, Next Digital – the first time a listed firm has been targeted by national security laws in the financial hub.
Also among assets targeted were the local bank accounts of three companies owned by him, Hong Kong’s Secretary for Security John Lee said in a government statement.
The statement, issued after the market close, said Lee had issued notices “in writing to freeze all the shares of Next Digital Limited held by (Jimmy) Lai Chee-ying, and the property in the local bank accounts of three companies owned by him”.
Lai was sentenced to 14 months in prison for taking part in unauthorised assemblies during pro-democracy protests in 2019.
He faces three alleged charges under a sweeping new national security law imposed by Beijing, including collusion with a foreign country.
The move against his assets was also made under the security law, which criminalises acts including subversion, sedition, collusion with foreign forces and secession with possible life imprisonment.
The decision by authorities to use the law’s powers for the first time to target a Hong Kong listed company could have repercussions for investor sentiment.
There have been signs of capital flight since the law was imposed last June, to foreign countries including Canada, according to government agencies, bankers and lawyers.
Beijing said it imposed the law on the former British colony to restore order after months of pro-democracy, anti-China protests in 2019.
However, critics say the law has been used by China‘s Communist leaders to suppress freedoms and pro-democracy campaigners – scores of whom have been arrested and jailed, or have fled into exile.
The chief executive officer of Next Digital, Cheung Kim-hung, told the Apple Daily that Lai’s frozen assets had nothing to do with the bank accounts of Next Digital, and that their operations and finances would not be affected.
The firm’s employees pledged to continue to “uphold their duty and keep reporting”, in a statement posted on the Facebook page of Next Digital’s trade union.
Under Hong Kong stock exchange filings, Lai is Next Digital’s major shareholder and holds 71.26 percent of shares that were worth around HK$350 million ($45 million) based on Friday’s closing share price.
The value of the other “property” assets frozen by the authorities was not immediately clear.
Next Digital runs the Apple Daily, Hong Kong’s most influential pro-democracy newspaper that has long been a thorn in the side of Hong Kong and Chinese authorities.
Senior Hong Kong officials have recently warned Apple Daily about its coverage and have spoken of the possible introduction of a “fake news” law. Critics say this is all part of an ongoing crackdown on the city’s media.
The Taiwan arm of Apple Daily said on Friday it would stop publishing its print version, blaming declining advertising revenue and more difficult business conditions in Hong Kong linked to politics.
($1 = 7.7658 Hong Kong dollars)
(Reporting by Twinnie Siu, Jessie Pang and James Pomfret; Writing by James Pomfret; Editing by Andrew Heavens and Gareth Jones)
Wall St sees chance of higher bid for Kansas City Southern from Canadian Pacific
Wall Street is expecting Canadian Pacific to raise its offer for Kansas City Southern even at the cost of more debt to win the bidding war with larger Canadian railroad rival Canadian National.
In the latest twist to the takeover saga, the U.S. railroad operator on Thursday accepted Canadian National’s $33.6 billion offer, leaving Canadian Pacific just five business days to make a new offer.
Analysts said Canadian Pacific was unlikely to let go a chance to be the first railway spanning the United States, Mexico and Canada easily even though it had said it would not leverage its books to outbid Canadian National.
“If CP is willing to compromise a bit more on the leverage ratio, it could…match or potentially beat CNR’s latest offer,” Scotiabank analyst Konark Gupta wrote in a note.
It all started in March when Canadian Pacific agreed to buy Kansas City Southern in a $25 billion cash-and-stock deal, but Canadian National topped the offer in April.
Canadian Pacific’s shares have added about 3% since its March 21 offer, while Canadian National has fallen about 9% from its April 20 bid.
This gives Canadian Pacific room to cut down the size of any potential debt that it would need to outbid its rival. As of Thursday’s close, the implied value of its offer rose to $286 per share from $275 per share, according to Gupta.
That is just $39 per share below Canadian National’s offer of $325 per share. To match it, Canadian Pacific would need to stretch its leverage ratio to as much as five times, from about four times currently.
It had a long-term debt of about C$8 billion ($6.61 billion) as of March 31, while it was C$13 billion for Canadian National.
A final outcome for either combination would still hinge on a regulatory approval by the U.S. Surface Transportation Board (STB), which oversees freight rail.
“The true power in this saga remains where it always has been…with the STB,” Cowen analyst Jason Seidl wrote in a note.
Shares of Kansas City Southern were down 1% and Canadian National 3.5%, while Canadian Pacific was up about 1% in early trading on Friday.
($1 = 1.2096 Canadian dollars)
(Reporting by Ankit Ajmera in Bengaluru; Editing by Arun Koyyur)
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