Financial Consumer Agency of Canada seeks to understand the impact of COVID-19 on Canadian Financial Consumers

The Financial Consumer Agency of Canada (FCAC) is conducting two surveys to gain a better understanding of Canadians' use of bank products and services during the pandemic and to gauge the impact of the pandemic on their overall financial wellness. The information gleaned from the research will serve to inform FCAC's supervision and consumer education programs, as well as to inform policy discussions. The surveys will run until spring 2021, following which the final data and reports will be published.

Use of Bank Products and Services (UBPS)

The UBPS survey is intended to track how Canadians are consuming financial products during the pandemic and whether and to what extent they are availing themselves of the COVID-19-related financial assistance being offered by the banks. Areas of focus will include:

  • The impact of branch closures on banking behaviour

  • The impact of the pandemic on accessing banking services

  • The impact of branch closures/physical access restrictions on accessing funds

  • Consumer awareness of COVID-19-related bank financial assistance programs

  • The level of consumer take-up of COVID-19-related bank financial assistance programs

  • Consumer experience with COVID-19-related bank financial assistance programs

Financial Well-Being (FWB)

The FWB survey is designed to collect monthly information about the day-to-day financial management and financial well-being of Canadians during the pandemic. The survey questions are said to be based on FCAC data emanating from various sources, including the 2019 Canadian Financial Capability Survey and will allow for a comparison of the financial state of Canadians immediately prior to and during the pandemic. This research seeks to understand the:

  • Changes to financial well-being brought on by changes in employment, income, investments and debt load and caused by the pandemic

  • Level of consumer uptake of COVID-19-related financial support offered by government and regulated entities to help manage finances.

  • Methods Canadians use to manage finances during the pandemic, including: access to and use of emergency funds and other savings; managing credit and debt; and keeping up with bill payments

  • Impact on debt loads, longer-term and retirement savings

  • Extent of financial information and financial advice sought by Canadians to make financial decisions

  • Risk of fraud and perpetration of financial scams against Canadians

Target population

In general, the surveys target Canadians over the age of 18, but allow for the occasional oversampling of more vulnerable populations where appropriate.

The FCAC is hoping the surveys will help it monitor the interactions between consumers and regulated entities during the pandemic. The research should also serve to provide an accurate picture of how Canadians are managing their finances and the pandemic is affecting, if at all, their overall financial well-being. The FCAC intends to use the research results to develop more targeted and timely educational material for Canadians who are dealing with the financial impacts of the COVID-19 crisis. The survey reports should be available in the spring of 2021.

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