Number of British Columbians who are $200 away from being unable to pay their bills spikes amidst rising rates and affordability struggles

2023-07-10   minute read

Linda Paul

MNP Consumer Debt Index

  • More than half report that they are $200 away or less from not being able to meet all their financial obligations (52%, +8pts), increasing eight points since last quarter — the largest increase amongst the provinces.
  • About half regret the amount of debt they’ve taken on in life (49%, +6pts).
  • About half are concerned about their current level of debt (49%, +2pts).
  • Two-thirds say they’re feeling the effects of interest rate increases (68%, +5pts).
  • Three in five say they’re more concerned about their ability to pay their debts as interest rates rise (60%, +3pts).

Forest in British Columbia

VANCOUVER, BC – July 10, 2023 – With rising interest rates and the cost of living remaining a challenge for B.C. households, the proportion who report being close to insolvency has spiked, according to the latest MNP Consumer Debt Index. More than half (52%) of British Columbians say they are $200 away or less from not being able to meet all their financial obligations at month end, increasing a significant eight points since last quarter — the largest increase amongst the provinces. This includes a third (32%, -1pt) who already don’t make enough to cover their bills and debt payments, making them insolvent.

“As inflation and higher interest rates continue to batter British Columbians, significantly more say they’re just $200 away from not being able to pay their bills and debt obligations at month end,” says Linda Paul, a Licensed Insolvency Trustee with MNP LTD in the Lower Mainland. “The mounting weight of household expenses and food prices has caused British Columbians’ financial anxiety to intensify. That’s further compounded by elevated debt-servicing costs, especially for those who are heavily indebted.”  

As high borrowing costs persist, more British Columbians feel pessimistic about their debt this quarter. About half regret the amount of debt they’ve taken on in life (49%), increasing six points since last quarter. The same proportion are concerned about their current level of debt (49%, +2pts).

“Amid the high cost of living, households are facing a range of financial pressures, leaving minimal wiggle room within their budgets. As a result, they risk falling behind on their payments. That’s when bills like credit cards may go past due. When that happens, late fees and interest accrue quickly, which makes it even harder to catch up on payments,” says Paul.

Compared to the previous quarter, more British Columbians say they’re feeling the effects of interest rate increases (68%, +5pts) and are more concerned about their ability to pay their debts as interest rates rise (60%, +3pts). About three in five (58%, -3pts) say they will be in financial trouble if interest rates go up much further. As a result, the majority of British Columbians (86%, +3pts) say they will be careful with how they spend their money.

Despite the efforts of some to spend more cautiously, the average British Columbian reports an increase of $206 in their weekly expenditure on essential items compared to a year ago. Likely the result of inflation, the vast majority of British Columbians (70%) feel their weekly spending on essentials has increased by at least $100. A quarter (27%) feel it has increased by between $100 and $200.

“While households are trying to curtail discretionary expenses and spend more cautiously, some have exhausted all possibilities of cutting back. They’ve already swapped to the cheapest grocery store items and cut down on their entertainment costs. Despite these measures, they’re still struggling with the essentials like putting food on the table or paying their mortgage or rent,” explains Paul. “That leaves individuals with difficult choices around which bills to prioritize and which they may have to postpone or forgo.”

Paul recommends that anyone who anticipates missing payments first contact their lender to see if they can set up a payment plan that fits within their means.

“Falling behind on payments and failing to establish communication or make arrangements with lenders is a sign borrowers need to ask for help,” says Paul. “In those situations, individuals should also seek out professional help from a Licensed Insolvency Trustee to conduct a confidential review of their financial situation and provide unbiased advice on a range of debt relief options — including budgeting, debt consolidation, and more, depending on their circumstances.”

Licensed Insolvency Trustees are the only federally regulated debt professionals who can assist with all the debt relief options, including Consumer Proposals and Bankruptcy, which can discharge people from debt. MNP provides free consultations across the country to support those in need of financial assistance.


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 240 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. For regular, bite-sized insights about debt and personal finances, subscribe to the MNP 3-Minute Debt Break Podcast.

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.

Now in its twenty-fifth wave, the Index has declined significantly to 83 points, down six points since last quarter. Visit to learn more.

The data was compiled by Ipsos on behalf of MNP LTD between June 1 and June 6, 2023. 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.

National data is available upon request.

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