Most people in Ontario don’t have high hopes for Canada’s economy in 2024, according to a new survey which also shows respondents aren’t feeling great about their personal finances either.

“The negativity is lingering,” said Dan Arnold, chief strategy officer Pollara Strategic Insights, which conducted the online survey in December.

Driven by “post-COVID economic malaise,” high interest rates, and inflation, 83 per cent of Ontarians surveyed feel the county is in a recession and only 10 per cent feel the country is in a period of growth.

Although Canada is not currently in a technical recession, which economists define as two consecutive quarters of negative growth, the numbers show Ontarians are feeling the pinch.

“People don’t expect things to get any better next year. And Canadians are looking ahead with the expectation that we’re going to be in a period of high inflation and high economic turbulence for a while,” Arnold said.

The research also shows Ontarians don’t feel optimistic about their own personal finances in the next 12 months.

At least 46 per cent of all Ontarians surveyed feel they will fall behind financially in 2024, while only eight per cent believe they will more than keep pace with rising prices.

According to Pollara, Canadians’ financial outlook for 2024 is among the most pessimistic the company has seen in its 29 years of conducting the poll.

The last time confidence levels in the national economy were this low, Arnold said, was following the recession of 2008.

“Even at that point, within a year, people were still not feeling great, but at least things were getting better. And two years later, by the 2011 survey, we were back to normal numbers right across the board,” he explained.

As well, the survey shows a number of “pressure points” that are impacting Canadians’ wallets by region.

In Ontario, the cost of food and groceries is causing stress to 44 per cent of respondents. Housing expenses are a concern for 36 per cent of those surveyed as is the cost of gas at 27 per cent.


Right now, Canada’s inflation rate is at 3.1 per cent and its key interest rate is set at 5 per cent. If either one of those numbers dips in 2024, that could mean a big morale boost for Canadians and their economic hopes for the new year, Arnold said.

“The combination of: high housing prices and high interest rates. That’s having an impact right now. I think if interest rates went down, at least for people who are renewing their mortgage in the near future or have a variable interest rate mortgage, that would certainly lessen their economic anxiety to a large extent,” Arnold said.

To that end, a decrease in gas, food, or housing expensese prices would also go a long way in lowering the stress of cost-of-living pressures, he said.

“Which should make them feel better overall about the economy and their personal financial situation.”


Pollara conducted an online survey of a randomly selected sample of 1,503 adult Canadians from Dec. 6 to 11, 2023. The margin of error is +/- 2.6 per cent, 19 times out of 20, and the data has been weighted using gender, age and region population data from the latest Canadian census.