Will Bankruptcies Increase as Economy ImprovesAs the outlook gets rosier for the Canadian economy, those in deep dept may pay the price with bankruptcy.

With the U.S. economy expected to undergo a widespread recovery next year, Canada will likely fall suit, with rising interest rates as well. Normally this would be good news. However, Canadians are going into the biggest shopping season of the year staggering under the load of a record $1.51 trillion in debt.

Our debt levels significantly outstrip those of American consumers. Excluding mortgages, our average debt has increased 2.7 per cent to $20,891, a recent article in the Globe and Mail points out.

On the tipping point
Lulled by five years of rock-bottom interest rates, we have taken on mountains of debt. While an improvement in the economy would normally be accompanied by a fall in the number of bankruptcies, our financial situations are so precarious that a small rise in interest rates could have disastrous consequences.

“We might see bankruptcies rising alongside interest rates,” affirms CIBC economist Benjamin Tal in a Huffington Post article.

Holiday hangover
With a frenzied beginning to the holiday buying season – seen in the Canadian embrace of America’s Black Friday madness – all indications are that household debt will go even higher, as December’s credit card bills become due in January.

Homes and cars
Many Canadians have been lured into the housing market with low interest rates, even though house prices have soared in key markets. In Vancouver, for example, the average price of a single-family detached home is now close to, gulp!, $1 million.

Overall there has been a marked increase in mortgage debt that puts many at risk if we see an increase in interest rates.

Auto loans and installment loans have been responsible most of the debt increases, up 6.8 per cent and 5.8 per cent respectively, Equifax Canada points out. Installment loans are loans with fixed monthly payments, which can include loans us for cars, furniture or home renovations.

Not all bad news
While our debt levels have come up, delinquencies and bankruptcies have actually gone down in recent quarters. Perhaps people are more determined to live within their means, or they have become aware of how precarious their situation is.

If after the turkey leftovers are gone, and the bill statement begin to fill your mailbox and email inbox, you feel that your debt situation is getting out of hand, call us at Richard Killen & Associates.

As one of Toronto’s friendliest and most respected Licensed Insolvency Trustees, we’ll sit down with you for a free assessment. We will lay out your options, whether it is taking an amalgamation loan, negotiating with creditors, offering a consumer proposal or going into bankruptcy and starting again with a clean slate.

Let it be a very Happy New Year for everyone.