Laid Off Due to the Coronavirus – Should I File a Bankruptcy or Consumer Proposal NowPosted on: April 21, 2020
The financial impact of the coronavirus is upon us with layoffs across a wide range of sectors leaving nearly half of Canadians now on the brink of insolvency. If you’re one of the millions laid off because of the coronavirus outbreak, you may be wondering if you should file a bankruptcy or consumer proposal and if it will help your monthly cash-flow.
A survey released by the MNP Consumer Debt Index found that about half of Canadians (49%) are $200 or less away from not being able to meet their debt obligations each month. Many of those surveyed are not confident they can cope financially if they lose their job without going further into debt.
Losing your job due to a layoff means an income interruption which means there’s less money to pay your bills. This is most devastating for people who already have a large amount of debt as it will seriously impair their ability to meet their financial obligations.
If you are struggling with debt and your household income has dropped due to the recent health crisis and you feel you can no longer manage your debt, it might make sense to file a bankruptcy or consumer proposal to help get you back on your feet financially.
After all a bankruptcy and consumer proposal has the ability to “wipe out” debt, or at the very least, give you more time to pay. Both can give you a sense of control as it eliminates credit card debts, medical bills, and other debts – the same types of debts that most likely are falling into arrears due to the coronavirus crisis.
But hold on. Don’t assume that just because you have no employment income right now that you necessarily need to do a bankruptcy or proposal. There are many things to consider.
Is Filing for Bankruptcy or a Consumer Proposal the Best Course Right Now?
One big thing right now, with all the Covid-19 government and creditor assistance plans is that you may “creditor proof.” Thatès just a cute way of saying that there may be no immediate reason to do anything because the creditors either canèt or wonèt pursue you for payment during this Covid scare.
When a person files for bankruptcy or makes a proposal in Canada it is often for the purpose to protect their wages and assets from collection actions. However, when you have been laid off and are not earning money, you have no income to garnishee (seize). Unemployment benefits or pension income cannot be garnisheed. Also, if they don’t own anything of value, they have nothing to seize. Therefore, filing for insolvency may not be necessary at this time. It does mean there may be no urgency to file. On the other hand if you see your situation as being insolvent with little or no hope of improving even if the Covid crisis ended tomorrow, you might file.
There is another facet of this question. Being creditor proof does not really mean that you are entirely protected from creditors.
- It won’t stop collection calls. Your creditors can and probably will continue to call you if you are in arrears with payments. If you are getting collection calls, the best advice is to explain that you have been laid off and no longer have the money to pay them. They may not like it, but the truth is always the best way.
- Also, it doesn’t mean that you can’t be sued. However since you don’t have any income to garnishee or assets to seize, the creditor may not want to spend the money to sue you.
Dealing With Debts You Owe the Banks and the Canada Revenue Agency
If you have debts with banks and the CRA, and you cannot keep up with payments due to COVID-19, a bankruptcy or a consumer proposal might be the only sure way to stop collection action immediately.
- If you have tax debts owed to CRA, the agency does not need to go to court to take collection actions. It can seize income, even benefit payments such as EI. It also has the right to seize your tax refunds and HST cheques until the tax debt is paid in full.
- If you have bank loans and credit card debt and you have savings deposited in the same bank you owe the debt to, the bank has the legal right of offset and can seize payments directly from your bank account.
In these cases, any income you receive will not be safe and it may be necessary to file a bankruptcy or consumer proposal to protect yourself. In these instances, it is best to start by speaking with us so we can assess your situation and explain and discuss ALL your options with you, including the non-bankruptcy and non-proposal ones.
Get Advice from a Licensed Insolvency Trustee
If the coronavirus pandemic has left you in this situation right now, struggling with debt, out of work with no income and being harassed by collector calls, it is important to seek immediate help from a Licensed Insolvency Trustee. A LIT, by law, must review your financial situation and provide you with a clear and impartial assessment of your situation and your solution options. A LIT will not tell you what to do. That’s your job – to decide for yourself. The LIT is there to arm you with the best information you can get, so the decision you make will be a proper and correct one for yourself and for your family.
What You Can Do Right Now
Right now, the priority for you is to take care of your own health and safety and that of your family. Stay home – stay safe. Follow the recommendations set by Health Canada and Health Ontario to minimize the chances of contracting Covid-19. While we don’t know how long this pandemic will last, let’s remain optimistic and know that this is temporary. IN due course this p[andemic will end, and life will eventually get going again.
But, if you are one of perhaps hundreds of thousands Canadians who have been put behind the eight ball by Covid-19 and either know you are in financial trouble or believe you soon will be, you need to talk to someone like us at Richard Killen & Associates Ltd.
Contact us by phone at 1-888-545-5365, or by email at firstname.lastname@example.org or email@example.com or just visit or website at www.rkillen.ca. At Richard Killen & Associates we remain committed to helping you as much as possible during this crisis situation.