The survey released Wednesday by the Canadian Payroll Association found that 48 per cent of respondents said they rely on each payday to cover their bills, with 40 per cent admitting they spend an amount equal to all or more of their net pay each week.
A quarter of those polled also said they wouldn't be able to scrounge up $2,000 if an emergency situation happened within the next month.
The CPA said the survey highlights the growing number of Canadians who are living paycheque to paycheque, and unable to put away savings due to mounting debt and a weak economy.
Debt an overwhelming worry
Half of those polled said they are able to save five per cent or less from their earnings, with 39 per cent saying they're "overwhelmed'' by their debt.
The most common type of debt cited by respondents was a mortgage (26 per cent), followed by credit-card debt (18 per cent), car loans (17 per cent) and a line of credit (16 per cent).
Of those surveyed, 11 per cent believe they'll never be debt-free, with 22 per cent specifying that their credit-card balance is the most difficult debt for them to pay down.
"A significant percentage of working Canadians carry debt, have a gloomy view of their local economy and are fearful of rising interest rates, inflation and costs of living,'' said Patrick Culhane, CPA president and chief executive, in a release.
More than a third of those surveyed said they don't expect the economy to ever improve in the town or city they reside in.
Retirement expected to cost $1 million
Half of the survey respondents expect to need a nest egg of at least $1 million, with two-thirds saying they won't be able to retire until they're at least 60 years old.
Even with finances being at the forefront for many working Canadians, only 28 per cent of those polled said a higher salary is their top priority compared with 48 per cent who said they value a better work-life balance and healthy work environment more.
"A significant percentage of working Canadians carry debt, have a gloomy view of their local economy and are fearful of rising interest rates, inflation and costs of living.''
The 40-question survey was conducted online by Framework Partners between June 27 and Aug. 5. There was a total of 5,629 employees who responded from a number of sectors including forestry, manufacturing, government, oil and retail.
The polling industry's professional body, the Marketing Research and Intelligence Association, says online surveys cannot be assigned a margin of error because they do not randomly sample the population.
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