Against the backdrop of a global pandemic, British Columbians are more concerned about their finances than ever before

2020-03-30   minute read

MNP Consumer Debt Index


Four in ten in the province say they are worried about their debt, a 9 point jump since December

Vancouver, BC, March 30, 2020 - The global crisis surrounding COVID-19 has delivered an unprecedented financial shock to British Columbians at a time when personal finances are already a source of stress for many. The latest MNP Consumer Debt Index compiled earlier this month shows British Columbians are more worried about their consumer debt than ever. Four in 10 (43%) say they are concerned about their current debt levels, a whopping nine-point jump from the previous wave in December and the highest percentage recorded since tracking began in 2017.

Night view of Vancouver port, downtown lighting up the streets and water

“Our results underscore how vulnerable Canadian households are to income interruption. Over the next few months we’ll likely see an unfolding of two crises: the global pandemic and the bursting of the Canadian consumer debt bubble,” says Grant Bazian, President at MNP LTD.

The company has been tracking Canadians’ attitudes about their consumer debt and perception of their ability to meet their monthly payment obligations since June 2017. Now in its twelfth wave, the MNP Consumer Debt Index currently sits at 93 points (-3pts) reaching the lowest point ever recorded.

Against the backdrop of a global pandemic, nearly 3 in 10 British Columbians (28%) are worried either they or someone in their household could lose their job, an increase of six points since December. One quarter (25%, -2pts) say they are not confident in their ability to cope financially with the loss of employment, change in wages or seasonal work without going further into debt.

“Virtually everyone in the province is experiencing some sort of financial disruption whether in their stock portfolios or on their paycheques, but those who were already saddled with a lot of debt are heading into economic survival mode,” Lana Gilbertson, a Vancouver-based debt expert with MNP LTD.

Four in 10 (40%, -6pts) British Columbians are teetering on the brink of insolvency indicating they are $200 or less away from not being able to pay all their bills each month. This includes nearly one in five (18%) who say they are already unable to meet all their debt obligations every month.

Although it’s hoped lower interest rates, monetary policy interventions and flexibility on the part of lenders will help British Columbians manage through this crisis, many will require extra support.  

“When it comes to personal finances, those who were already deeply indebted and have now suddenly lost their jobs need to go through the right channels for support,” says Gilbertson.  “One of the worst things households can do right now is panic and run up credit cards or take out payday loans. Those who are in danger of missing any payments should communicate with their creditors right away and seek debt advice from a licensed professional.”

Licensed Insolvency Trustees can guarantee legal protection from creditors as they guide individuals through the Consumer Proposal or Bankruptcy process. As the only government-regulated debt relief professionals, they are empowered to help debtors reorganize their financial affairs and, where appropriate, can even help them avoid Bankruptcy by negotiating an agreement with their creditors.


MNP LTD, a division of the national accounting firm MNP LLP, is the largest insolvency practice in Canada. For more than 50 years, our experienced team of Licensed Insolvency Trustees and advisors have been working with individuals to help them recover from times of financial distress and regain control of their finances. With more than 230 offices from coast-to-coast, MNP helps thousands of Canadians each year who are struggling with an overwhelming amount of debt. Visit to contact a Licensed Insolvency Trustee or use our free Do it Yourself (DIY) debt assessment tools

In light of the social distancing measures currently in place, MNP LTD is currently offering Free Confidential Consultations via videoconferencing (Skype, Messenger, Zoom, FaceTime, etc.) and by phone. Our team of Licensed Insolvency Trustees are empowered to help those struggling financially to make the most informed choices to deal with their debt during this time.

Visit to book an appointment or to start a live chat.

About the MNP Consumer Debt Index

The MNP Consumer Debt Index measures Canadians’ attitudes toward their consumer debt and gauges their ability to pay their bills, endure unexpected expenses, and absorb interest-rate fluctuations without approaching insolvency. Conducted by Ipsos and updated quarterly, the Index is an industry-leading barometer of financial pressure or relief among Canadians. Visit to learn more.

The latest data, representing the twelfth wave of the MNP Consumer Debt Index, was compiled by Ipsos on behalf of MNP LTD between March 2 and March 5, 2020. For this survey, a sample of 2,000 Canadians aged 18 years and over was interviewed. Weighting was then employed to balance demographics to ensure that the sample's composition reflects that of the adult population according to Census data and to provide results intended to approximate the sample universe. The precision of Ipsos online polls is measured using a credibility interval. In this case, the poll is accurate to within ±2.5 percentage points, 19 times out of 20, had all Canadian adults been polled. The credibility interval will be wider among subsets of the population. All sample surveys and polls may be subject to other sources of error, including, but not limited to, coverage error and measurement error.

A summary of the national data is available by request.

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