Canada housing market
New condominium towers are seen under various stages of construction in the Yaletown district of downtown Vancouver, British Columbia, CanadaREUTERS/Chris Helgren

A new survey suggests nearly half of Canadian homeowners would be ill prepared for a personal financial dilemma such as job loss.

The poll released by Manulife Bank finds that 24% of those surveyed don't know how much is in their emergency fund, 14% have not put away any funds and 9% have access to $1,000 or less.

The remainder of those surveyed have up to $10,000 saved, with the average amount being $5,000.

Manulife says among those polled, homeowners had an average of $174,000 in mortgage debt, with an average of 28% of their net income going toward paying off their home each month.

About half (46%) of those polled say they would have difficulty making their monthly mortgage payments in less than six months if their household's primary income earner lost his or her job.

Sixteen per cent say they would have financial difficulty if interest rates cause their mortgage payments to increase.

According to the Financial Post, earlier this month, Canadian Finance Minister Bill Morneau announced that stress tests will be required for all insured mortgages to ensure that borrowers would still be able to make their mortgage payments if interest rates rise or their financial situations change.

Last year, Ottawa raised the minimum down payment on the portion of a home worth over $500,000 to 10%.

The poll by Environics Research was conducted online with 2,372 Canadian homeowners from June 28 and July 8 of this year. Survey participants were between the ages of 20 to 69 with household income of $50,000 or more.

"It's undoubtedly stressful living paycheque-to-paycheque," Rick Lunny, President and Chief Executive Officer, Manulife Bank of Canada, told the Edmonton Journal.

"If you don't have extra cash at the end of the month, it's very difficult to build a rainy-day account. For those who find themselves in this situation – a good place to start is working with an advisor to create a budget. Many people are surprised at how much of their money is going toward things that they don't consider that important."

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