Nearly half of British Columbians within $200 of insolvency

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What happened: MNP Ltd.’s latest consumer debt index shows more British Columbians are closer to insolvency now than in March.

Why it matters: The index reflects the number of British Columbians struggling with debt at a time when both the province’s economy and labour market have been strong.

More British Columbians have inched closer to insolvency.

The latest MNP Consumer Debt Index – compiled from the survey results of more than 2,100 Canadians polled by Ipsos in June – suggests 44% of British Columbians are $200 or less away from insolvency at the end of each month, up five percentage points from MNP Ltd.’s last index in March.

That sharp increase stands in contrast to other parts of Canada, where more Canadians registered greater financial wiggle room between surveys.

For example, 44% of Canadians in Alberta and Ontario noted they were a couple hundred dollars away from insolvency, but that figure was down four percentage points in each jurisdiction. In Quebec, the number is 43% – down eight percentage points – and it’s 46% in Atlantic Canada, down nine percentage points. B.C.’s figure is in line with the national average, which decreased four points to 44%.

The most recent data from Canada’s Office of the Superintendent of Bankruptcy shows that B.C. consumer bankruptcies rose 11.9% month-to-month in May, while consumer proposals – an offer to creditors to settle debts – rose 3 %. Year-over-year, bankruptcies fell 5.3% and consumer proposals were up 10.6%.

At present, six in 10 British Columbians rate their debt situation as bad. The survey also revealed that half of British Columbians have a difficult time trusting companies to help them decrease their debt.

“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. By the time they speak with a professional many may be forgoing basic necessities to avoid filing a consumer proposal or bankruptcy,” commented Lana Gilbertson, a licensed insolvency trustee with MNP in Vancouver, in a release.

“Our index consistently tells us that many people in the province are on the brink of not being able to meet their debt repayment obligations.”

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