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QUEBECKERS SPEAK ABOUT SPENDING PRIORITIES AND THREATS TO THEIR FUTURE

Quebeckers want to travel despite their fear of terrorism. They are afraid their language and culture may be assimilated. They are also the Canadians most concerned about environmental issues.

Montreal, June 14, 2004 – MasterCard Canada has released the results of its annual Priceless Index revealing that Quebeckers focus on the essentials when it comes to spending money and are concerned about Quebec’s future. These are two of the interesting findings in the nationwide survey of Canadians examining their priorities, habits and values.

Spending Habits: The essentials
One quarter (25%) of Quebecers report that when it comes to spending money, food is the most important item, immediately followed by health and well-being (17 %). Housing/home ownership comes in third place with 12%. Health and well-being is a top priority, compared to the rest of Canada - three times as many Quebeckers treat it as an important expenditure, compared to their peers in the other regions of the country (5%).

Repaying debts and saving for retirement are practically at the bottom of Quebeckers priority list – being a top priority for only 3% of them, slightly below their peers of the other provinces at 5%.

“Quebeckers recognize their priorities in life, and when it comes to spending money, they’re able to separate the essentials from the luxuries,” said Kevin Stanton, President, MasterCard Canada. “If you ask them how they really want to spend their paycheques – it’s the enjoyable things in life like travel and entertainment. But Quebeckers also reveal that food and health are the most important costs.”

More Plans for Travel Despite Fear of War and Terrorism
The 2004 Priceless Index reveals that traveling is favourite expenditure for one out of five Quebeckers (21%) compared to 13% for other Canadians. And, when asked “What is the most important thing to spend money on”, traveling was the answer for 8% of Quebeckers. Interestingly, Quebeckers are also the ones showing the greatest fear of war and terrorism in the country (38%) versus the rest of Canada (20%).

Independence and Assimilation Still Perceived as Threats
When asked what the biggest threats are to Quebec’s future, one quarter of Quebeckers (25%) raised independence as the biggest threat to the province. This concern is far greater among English-speaking (42%) than French-speaking Quebeckers (18%).

Almost 20 percent of Quebecers believe that assimilation of the French culture and language (19%) is a concern for Quebec, followed by war and terrorism (16%) and environmental protection (15%).

When asked the same question of Canada’s future, Canadians from all regions across the country most fear war and terrorism, while twice as many Quebeckers do so.

Environmental Issues: A Growing Concern
Quebeckers show a growing concern for the environment, with one quarter (25%) raising environmental issues as the second greatest threat to Canada while their peers from other provinces felt that maintaining independence from the United States is the greatest threat (19%).

When Derek Leebosh of the Environics Research Group, which did the Priceless Index research, was asked for the possible reasons for this difference in priorities, he offered, “It may be due to the questioning, debates and policy statements now taking place in Quebec regarding energy development. One thing is sure, Quebeckers have a heightened level of concern about the environment since this issue is identified as both a national and provincial one.”

Big Canadian Business Must Give Back to Society
When asked what they thought was the most important responsibility of Canadian big business -- making money and profit for shareholders or giving back to Canadian society -- three quarters of Canadians (75%) and a very large majority of Quebeckers (64%) said giving back to society. This response was consistent whatever the respondent’s education, social status and location.

However, of those that held the contrary view, twice as many Quebeckers (28%) as their counterparts in the other provinces (14%) said that the most important responsibility of Canadian big business is to generate profits for their shareholders.

It is also interesting to note that the same percentages apply to French-speaking and English-speaking respondents. Twice as many French-speaking (27%) as English-speaking (14%) respondents said that the most important responsibility of major companies is to generate profits.

About MasterCard International
MasterCard International is a leading global payments solutions company that provides a broad variety of innovative services in support of our global members' credit, deposit access, electronic cash, business-to-business and related payment programs. MasterCard International manages a family of well-known, widely accepted payment cards brands including MasterCard®, Maestro® and Cirrus® and serves financial institutions, consumers and businesses in over 210 countries and territories. The MasterCard award-winning Priceless® advertising campaign is now seen in 96 countries and in 47 languages, giving the MasterCard brand a truly global reach and scope. For more information go to www.mastercardinternational.com

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