The number of Canadians who say they are finding it “very difficult” to make their monthly mortgage payment has grown in recent months, nearly doubling since March, according to a new poll published Monday.

The online Angus Reid survey, which polled 1,878 Canadians this month, found that 15 per cent of the mortgage holders surveyed are finding it “very difficult” to make their payments, up from eight per cent in March.

Among Ontario residents the percentage of mortgage holders who are finding it “very difficult” to meet their obligations is even higher at 16 per cent.

The percentage of respondents who find their mortgage payments “tough” was also higher among Ontario residents – 37 per cent compared to 30 per cent nationwide.

According to the survey, the current mortgage rates have four in five Canadian mortgage holders “worried” (40 per cent) or “very worried” (39 per cent) that their payments will increase when it comes time to renew with their bank.

For those set to renew in the next 12 months, the majority (57 per cent) are “very worried” that their monthly payments will rise significantly.

“Overall, Canadians are more down than usual on their financial situation and prospects,” the analysis accompanying the survey read.

Nearly half of respondents said they are in a worse financial position than they were last year, while 35 per cent said they expect to be in a worse position a year from now.

“While the expectation from economists reading the macroeconomic tea leaves is that the (Bank of Canada) will hold rates steady this week, that does little to quell the concerns many mortgage holders are facing,” the analysis continued.

After 10 successive rate hikes, the Bank of Canada held its key interest rate at five per cent during its last rate announcement in September. At the time, the central bank noted that it would not rule out future rate hikes.

The annual inflation rate rose in both July and August but in September, it fell back to 3.8 per cent, resuming an earlier downward trend.

According to the survey, 64 per cent feel the rising cost of living is the top issue facing the country today, with the second most chosen concern as health care, at a distant 46 per cent.

The survey found that while climate change and housing affordability were “neck and neck” as a concern for Canadians last September, that has shifted significantly just one year later.

About 32 per cent now say they find housing affordability to be a top issue while just 23 per cent flagged climate change as the most urgent issue facing Canadians. The report noted that this change comes despite the record summer wildfires across the country that “drew renewed attention to the climate crisis.”

According to the survey, more than half, about 54 per cent, say it is difficult to feed their household given the cost of food currently.

The online survey was conducted from Oct. 9 to Oct. 13 and included a representative randomized sample of Canadian adults who are members of Angus Reid Forum.

It should be noted that online surveys do not have margins of error.