Unstable Economy Stressing Young Canadians

Sun Life Canadian Health Index™ reveals finances and work life are two of the highest contributors to stress, which affects 90 per cent of young Canadians in today’s economy

Toronto (Nov. 5, 2012) – The instability in today’s economy is contributing to high stress levels in young Canadians, with 90 per cent of 18 to 24 year olds experiencing excessive stress, and 72 per cent of adult Canadians are feeling overwhelmed, according to the third annual Sun Life Canadian Health Index™ compiled by Ipsos Reid.

Finances and work life are cited as two of the biggest sources of anxiety for all Canadians surveyed, according to the index. Other top sources of stress include personal relationships and personal health issues.

“We’re concerned to see the impact of economic instability on young Canadians with nine in 10 feeling excessively stressed,” said Kevin Dougherty, President, Sun Life Financial Canada. “This finding is consistent with what we are seeing is our disability claims business – for Canadians age 30 and under, 40 per cent of their long term disability claims relate to mental health. We will use these insights as we continue to grow our benefits and workplace wellness programs as well as offer financial planning to help curb stress levels.”

The index also found that the employment landscape in Canada is changing with almost 30 per cent of Canadians saying they are underemployed, under-utilized and not able to make full use of their skills and abilities. Underemployment is highest amongst young Canadians – with 39 per cent of 18 to 24 year olds feeling under-utilized.

“These results are consistent with Canada’s national unemployment rate sitting at close to 15 per cent for Canadians under 25, more than twice the Canadian average,” said Louis Theriault, Director, Health Economics at the Conference Board of Canada. “It is more difficult for young Canadians to find permanent full-time jobs that suit their skills and areas of study. Recent job creation has been dominated by part-time work – which is becoming a trend in Canada. This impacts younger workers in particular and contributes to their higher stress level.”

Drivers of stress such as socio-economic factors, financial security and unemployment have a significant impact on the emotional and physical health of Canadians. Seventy-five per cent of Canadians working full-time rate their emotional health as very good or excellent, compared to only two-thirds of part-time workers (67 per cent) and just over half of the unemployed (56 per cent).

“This report endorses the belief that employment has a positive effect on one’s overall health,” said Dr. Ian Arnold, recently retired Chair of the Workforce Advisory Committee for the Mental Health Commission of Canada. “Positive elements that are attributed to having a full-time job do help to keep illnesses at bay and Canadians optimistic while maintaining a healthy lifestyle.”

Eighty per cent of Canadians believe their employers should play a role in helping to manage stress. Not surprisingly, almost half (46 per cent) of unemployed Canadians don’t have the support they need to manage the stress in their lives. Among those 18-24 year olds who are experiencing excessive stress, 37 per cent don’t have the support they need to manage the stress in their lives.

For more key findings and results on the 2012 Sun Life Canadian Health Index TM, visit www.sunlife.ca/CanadianHealthIndex. For more information on tips on health, visit Brighterlife.ca.

About the survey

The Sun Life Canadian Index™ measures the attitudes of Canadians towards healthy lifestyles and reports these in the form of an index.

The third Ipsos Reid/Sun Life Canadian Health Index™ is based on findings of an Ipsos Reid poll conducted between June 29 and July 16, 2012. A sample of 3,113 Canadians from 18 to 80 years of age from the Ipsos Canadian online panel was interviewed online.

Ipsos employed weighting to balance demographics and ensure that the sample’s composition reflected that of the adult population according to the 2011 Census data – and to provide results intended to approximate the sample universe.

A survey with an unweighted probability sample of this size and a 100 per cent response rate would have an estimated margin of error of ± 2 percentage points, 19 times out of 20, of what the results would have been had the entire population of adults in Canada been polled. The margin of error will be larger within regions and for other sub-groupings of the survey population.

About Sun Life Financial

Sun Life Financial is a leading international financial services organization providing a diverse range of protection and wealth accumulation products and services to individuals and corporate customers. Chartered in 1865, Sun Life Financial and its partners today have operations in key markets worldwide, including Canada, the United States, the United Kingdom, Ireland, Hong Kong, the Philippines, Japan, Indonesia, India, China and Bermuda. As of June 30, 2012, the Sun Life Financial group of companies had total assets under management of $496 billion. For more information please visit www.sunlife.com.

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