April 26, 1999
Personal Security Index 1999
How confident are Canadians
about their economic and physical well-being?
Are Canadians worried about losing their jobs? How confident are they about the health care system? Do they feel safe at home and on the street? These and other questions are answered in the Personal Security Index 1999. Based on extensive analysis of national data and custom polling, this new annual measure from the Canadian Council on Social Development (CCSD) charts changes in Canadians' economic and physical well-being. In this first edition of the PSI, changes that have occurred between 1980 and 1998 are reviewed. In coming years, the PSI will report on changes that have taken place since 1999.
Overall, Canadians' economic security has weakened over the last two decades, while their physical well-being has improved.
Although the unemployment rate has been dropping very slowly throughout most of the 1990s, 30 per cent of Canadians believe that they are likely to lose their jobs within the next few years. Furthermore, 40 per cent of Canadians are not confident that they could find equivalent employment within six months if they lost their current job.
For the first time in a decade, Canadians saw a small improvement in their disposable income in 1998. More than 56 per cent of Canadians consider their income to be adequate for their family's basic needs, while 13 per cent feel that their income is wholly inadequate. Despite the economic recovery, the proportion of individuals living in poverty was as high in 1996 as it was during the recession years of the early 1990s.
Canadians' savings rate has fallen to nearly zero, and their average household debt levels are at a record high of more than 100 per cent of annual disposable income. Polling for the PSI found that 30 per cent of Canadians believe that their savings would sustain them for no more than one month if they lost their job.
Income security programs
Only one Canadian in four is confident that government income support programs would sustain them while they look for new employment. This opinion mirrors the decreasing number of Canadians who are covered by the Employment Insurance program.
More than three-quarters of Canadians consider themselves to be very healthy, and the rate of premature death due to accidents or disease is dropping. This is largely the result of fewer deaths from cardiovascular disease and from motor vehicle accidents. However, the number of deaths due to cancer is rising and suicide remains a major social problem.
Canadians are paying a greater share of health care costs out of their own pockets. Private spending on health care increased from 2.7 per cent of disposable income in 1981, to 4.5 per cent in 1998. About 60 per cent of Canadians remain confident that they will have access to emergency care should the need arise.
Safety from injury
The number of workplace and traffic-related injuries has decreased in recent years. However, one Canadian in four considers their life to be extremely stressful, which can have negative long-term health consequences.
Safety from crime
Canadians generally report feeling safe in their communities, with men and women having similar views regarding the safety of their neighbourhoods. Three Canadians in four feel safe from violent crime, while two in three feel safe from property crime. However, 14 per cent of young Canadians consider their neighbourhoods unsafe compared to only 8 per cent of senior citizens. This result relates specifically to the perception of safety of neighbourhoods with respect to property crimes rather than to overall personal perceptions of crime or fear of crime.
Personal Security Index 1999 - Related Material
The Personal Security Index 1999 is produced with the support of Health Canada, the National Crime Prevention Centre and the Insurance Bureau of Canada.
Canadian Council on Social Development,
309 Cooper Street, 5th Floor,
Ottawa, Ontario, K2P 0G5
Tel: (613) 236-8977, Fax: (613) 236-2750, Web: www.ccsd.ca, Email: firstname.lastname@example.org