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Affluence increasingly important to Canadians amid high inflation, says poll

What's important in life?

Every year, Research Co. and Glacier Media ask Canadians about the importance of six aspects in their lives. 

We usually see the country’s residents heavily invested in family and friends, and significantly detached from affluence and religion. 

This trend continues, with at least nine in ten Canadians mentioning family (93 per cent, down two points since our previous survey in 2022) and friends (90 per cent, down four points) as “very important” or “moderately important” for them personally.

Majorities of Canadians also consider three other aspects as “very important” or “moderately important”: country (86 per cent, down one point), career (73 per cent, down one point) and affluence (58 per cent, up three points). Once again, religion is at the bottom of the list (48 per cent, unchanged).

While there is little change in our nationwide feelings about country, the regional disparities are worth a second look. Albertans, in spite of a year that featured many opportunities to be upset at Ottawa and the federal system, are more likely to say that this aspect is personally important (94 per cent). Quebec is at the other end of the spectrum, at 81 per cent.

There is only one item that shows growth since 2022: affluence. Its rise comes primarily from men (62 per cent) and Canadians aged 18 to 34 (63 per cent). 

Religion is stagnant, but with some notable regional nuances. 

Only in Ontario (54 per cent, up one point) and Atlantic Canada (51 per cent, up seven points) do we find majorities of residents who say religion is important to them personally. 

The proportions are lower in Alberta (47 per cent, down two points) and Saskatchewan and Manitoba (46 per cent, down 10 points). 

The lowest ranking is observed in British Columbia (43 per cent, up three points) and Quebec (42 per cent, down one point).

Those who may have expected a renewed role for religion after the COVID-19 pandemic may be disappointed with these numbers. 

At the same time, the proportion of Canadians who describe themselves as “very spiritual” or “moderately spiritual” increased by two points to 55 per cent. 

On the political front, centre-left voters are more likely to compartmentalize their feelings. 

Majorities of Canadians who voted for the New Democratic Party (NDP) and the Liberal Party in the 2021 federal election (56 per cent and 53 per cent respectively) say they are “spiritual”, but significantly fewer (44 per cent and 47 per cent respectively) acknowledge that religion is personally important to them.

Among Conservative Party voters, the difference is negligible: 58 per cent claim to be spiritual and 56 per cent say religion is important.

We still see about half of Canadians (49 per cent, down one point) identifying as Christian, while 37 per cent (unchanged) have no religion or claim to be atheist or agnostic. 

Once again, British Columbia leads in this group (41 per cent), followed by Alberta (40 per cent), Saskatchewan and Manitoba (38 per cent) and Quebec (36 per cent). 

The effect of British Columbians “losing their religion” can be felt in political circles as well. 

Campaigns in the Fraser Valley will be very different next year than 12 years ago, when candidates routinely appeared on Christian talk shows. 

At the national level, the proportion of Canadians who say they never attend religious gatherings fell from 32 per cent to 30 per cent. British Columbia was the clear outlier, with more than two in five residents (44 per cent) always staying away from churches, temples or synagogues – by far the highest proportion in the country.

Weekly attendance to religious gatherings increased by six points to 16 per cent across the country. In addition, a third of Canadians (33 per cent, down seven points) only attend special events, such as weddings, funerals or baptisms. 

Our annual look at religion and spirituality in Canada confirms previous trends. 

Residents of British Columbia and Quebec remain disinterested in religion, while Ontarians and Atlantic Canadians are placing more emphasis on it as part of their lives. 

Still, the biggest surprise of the survey was the increase in the proportion of Canadians who value affluence. At a time of inflationary concerns, and with housing, homelessness and poverty becoming the most important issue for Canadians, being able to live comfortably has undoubtedly overtaken faith.

Mario Canseco is president of Research Co.

Results are based on an online survey conducted from December 1 to December 3, 2023, among 1,000 adults in Canada. The data has been statistically weighted according to Canadian census figures for age, gender and region. The margin of error – which measures sample variability – is +/- 3.1 percentage points, 19 times out of 20.



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