BC insolvency worries rise
Okanagan Edge Staff - Jul 29, 2019 - Biz Releases

Photo: Contributed

The news keeps getting worse when it comes to family finances in B.C.

MNP conducted its latest debt index poll, and it found overall attitudes towards personal financial situations have declined significantly since March. The scariest figure is 44 per cent of people in the province say they are $200 or less away from financial insolvency, which is being unable to pay the amount of money you owe on time. That was the largest increase compared to other provinces.

Making matters even worse is 49 per cent of British Columbians say they would be embarrassed to get help if their financial situation was bad enough to consider bankruptcy, but 85 per cent don’t believe other people should feel that way if they were having major money woes. More than a quarter of respondents are not seeking help because of embarrassment.

“Shame and guilt prevent many people from talking about their debt even when it becomes completely unmanageable,” MNP licensed insolvency trustee Lana Gilbertson said in a press release. “To make matters worse, our results show that those who are most in need of help are the least inclined to ask for it.”

The survey found that 60 per cent of British Columbians call their personal debt situation “bad,” but it also found that they don’t know where to turn to improve it. More than a quarter of respondents (25 per cent) said they don’t know what to do. Another half (50 per cent) don’t trust professional companies to help them.

“The trust issue may be a result of a lack of awareness about debt relief options available,” Gilbertson said. “Many people—particularly young people—don’t know that there is a regulated system in place to help indebted individuals regain financial stability.

“It’s equally important to be aware that licensed insolvency trustees are the only professionals authorized to offer relief options such as consumer proposals and bankruptcies.”

The Office of the Superintendent of Bankruptcy reports that the number of British Columbians who field for bankruptcy in the first quarter of 2019 was up 3.9 per cent over the same quarter last year, but MNP believes the situation is much worse than that.

“While the number of filings is on the rise, these numbers don’t reflect the magnitude of the consumer debt challenges in the province because so many people sweat it out for years before reckoning with their debt,” Gilbertson says. “By the time they speak with a professional, many may be forgoing basic necessities to avoid filing a consumer proposal or bankruptcy.”

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