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Canadians with unpredictable income flows are more likely to experience financial challenges and stress today and to lack confidence in their financial future.

TORONTO – Almost forty percent (37 percent) of adult Canadians say they have experienced moderate to high levels of income volatility over the past year according to a survey conducted on behalf of TD Bank Group. This equates to an estimated 10 million Canadians who experience income volatility, including approximately 3.3 million whose monthly income can fluctuate by 25 percent or more.

Income volatility describes income which is inconsistent (not received on a regular and predictable basis), unstable (amount varies each time it is received), and that fluctuates month to month by a significant percentage.

TD’s report, Pervasive and Profound: Impact of Income Volatility on Canadians, has found that Canadians experiencing income volatility are more likely to report feelings of financial stress and lower overall financial health. They are also significantly more likely to see themselves falling behind financially and much less likely to feel confidence in their financial future.

"Our aim was to take an emerging issue – income volatility – and to shed light on how it’s affecting the day to day lives of Canadians," said Bharat Masrani, Chief Executive Officer and Group President of TD Bank Group. "Our findings suggest the impact is both pervasive and profound – making it hard for many people to live the life they want today, let alone plan for and feel confident about their future. It’s a subject worthy of closer examination."

The survey findings show that income volatility is more likely to be experienced by part-time, self-employed, seasonal workers and the unemployed. Young adult Canadians – particularly young women, as well as by men aged 45-54, are also more susceptible, as are lower income Canadians. Respondents ranked irregular hourly pay (28 percent), multiple sources of variable income (19 percent) and self-employment (18 percent) as the three top causes of fluctuation in their month-to-month income.

The TD report uses Canadians’ reported behaviours and perceptions in the areas of saving, spending, borrowing and planning to gauge their overall financial health. In all four categories, those with higher income volatility show significantly lower financial health.

This contrast is most acute in the area of saving and financial planning. In terms of savings, 44 percent of Canadians with high levels of volatility show low financial health versus 28 percent of those with low levels of income volatility. In terms of financial planning, Canadians with high levels of income volatility are almost twice as likely to show low financial health, than those with low levels of income volatility (34 percent versus 18 percent).

Respondents experiencing moderate to high levels of income volatility also indicated they were more likely to delay buying groceries, paying down a minimum amount on a credit card, or paying off monthly bills. Additionally, those with high levels of income volatility were twice as likely to "often" feel stressed about their personal finances than those with low amounts of income volatility. Finally, findings show that Canadians with lower incomes are both at higher risk for income volatility than those with higher incomes, and more likely to experience negative and more severe impacts as a consequence of volatility.

"This confirms what many community organizations have suspected for some time – that there has been a sea change in the financial lives of Canadian households. Rising income volatility appears to be making it far more challenging for households at all income levels to manage financially, but Canadians with lower incomes are really feeling this most sharply,” said Elizabeth Mulholland, CEO of national charity, Prosper Canada. “We need to broaden our focus to address, not just income poverty and inequality, but income volatility as well, if Canadians are to truly prosper.”

"Income volatility can erode people's confidence in creating a future they want for themselves and their families," said Mr. Masrani. "Everyone deserves to look forward with a sense of certainty and purpose. It is important for us as individuals but also, more broadly, as a country. TD will continue to look for ways to support an informed national discussion on an issue that impacts millions of Canadians."


Ipsos Canada conducted the online survey among a representative, national sample of 3,000 Canadians, 18 years or older. The fieldwork was conducted from April 13 – 23, 2017. Weighting was employed on region, age and gender to ensure that the sample’s composition reflects the overall adult population of Canada according to census information. The "credibility interval" for this sample size is +/-2.0 percent, 95 percent of the time. In generalizing results, 1 percent = 280,000 adults; 5 percent = 1.4 million adults; 10 percent = 2.8 million adults.

About TD Bank Group

The Toronto-Dominion Bank and its subsidiaries are collectively known as TD Bank Group ("TD" or the "Bank"). TD is the sixth largest bank in North America by branches and serves 25 million customers in three key businesses operating in a number of locations in financial centres around the globe: Canadian Retail, including TD Canada Trust, TD Auto Finance Canada, TD Wealth (Canada), TD Direct Investing, and TD Insurance; U.S. Retail, including TD Bank, America's Most Convenient Bank, TD Auto Finance U.S., TD Wealth (U.S.), and an investment in TD Ameritrade; and Wholesale Banking, including TD Securities. TD also ranks among the world's leading online financial services firms, with over 11 million active online and mobile customers. TD had CDN$1.2 trillion in assets on January 31, 2017. The Toronto-Dominion Bank trades under the symbol "TD" on the Toronto and New York Stock Exchanges.

SOURCE TD Bank Group

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