Number of insolvent Ontarians who are unable to cover their bills and debt obligations reaches an all-time high

2023-07-10  3 minute read

Caryl Newbery-Mitchell

MNP Consumer Debt Index

  • Proportion who report being insolvent hits record high, with a third indicating they can’t cover their bills and debt payments (38%, +8pts).
  • More than half report that they are $200 away or less from not being able to meet all their financial obligations (54%, +6pts), more than any other province.
  • Half regret the amount of debt they’ve taken on in life (51%, +7pts).
  • More than half are concerned about their current level of debt (52%, +3pts), more than any other province.
  • More than two-thirds are more concerned about their ability to pay their debts as interest rates rise (71%,+9pts).
  • Two-thirds say they will be in financial trouble if interest rates go up much further (69%, +14pts), more than any other province.

Two Adirondack chairs on a dock facing the sunset.

TORONTO, ON – July 10, 2023 – Amid rising interest rates and a challenging cost of living, the proportion of Ontarians who report being insolvent has reached an all-time high, according to the latest MNP Consumer Debt Index. More than half (54%) of Ontarians report that they are $200 away or less from not being able to meet all their financial obligations — increasing six points since last quarter and the highest proportion amongst the provinces. This includes two in five (38%, +8pts) who already don’t make enough to cover their bills and debt payments, making them insolvent, the highest proportion since the Index began five years ago.

“Worn down by inflation and higher interest rates, we’re seeing a record number of Ontarians who can’t pay their bills and debt obligations each month,” says Caryl Newbery-Mitchell, a Licensed Insolvency Trustee with MNP LTD in Toronto. “The growing burden of household bills and food prices has worsened the financial anxiety, and increased debt-servicing costs only add more pressure for those who are severely indebted.”

As high borrowing costs persist, significantly more Ontarians feel pessimistic about their debt; half (51%) regret the amount of debt they’ve taken on in life, jumping seven points since last quarter. Compared to the other provinces, Ontarians are the most likely (52%, +3pts) to be concerned about their current level of debt.

“The current financial pressures and dramatic increase in the cost of living have eliminated any budgetary wiggle room, and households in Ontario risk falling into arrears as a result. When bills like credit cards are past due, late fees and interest accrue rapidly, which makes it challenging to catch up on payments,” says Newbery-Mitchell.

Significantly more Ontarians say they’re feeling the effects of interest rate increases (73%, +8pts) compared to last quarter and are more concerned about their ability to pay their debts as interest rates rise (71%, +9pts). Jumping a staggering 14 points since the last quarter, Ontarians are more likely than any other province (69%) to say they will be in financial trouble if interest rates go up much further. As a result, the vast majority (88%, +6pts) say they will be careful with how they spend their money.

Despite the efforts of some to spend more cautiously, the average Ontarian reports an increase of $230 in their weekly expenditure on essential items compared to a year ago. Likely the result of inflation, most Ontarians (74%) feel their weekly spending on essentials has increased by at least $100. Three in 10 (29%) feel it has increased by between $100 and $200.

“Even though households are exercising restraint with their discretionary spending, the reality is that some have no room for further cutbacks. Many have already restricted their entertainment costs and switched to the cheapest grocery store items, and are still finding they are still struggling to put food on the table or pay for other essentials like their rent or mortgage,” says Newbery-Mitchell. “Some households will have to make tough decisions about which bills to prioritize and which to delay or not pay at all.”

Newbery-Mitchell recommends that those who anticipate missing payments first contact their lender to see if they can set up a payment plan that fits within their means.

“Falling behind on their payments without making prior arrangements with their lenders, that is a red flag that borrowers are in need of financial help,” says Newbery-Mitchell. “Reaching out to your lenders is a good first step. Individuals who are struggling with their debts should also seek advice from a Licensed Insolvency Trustee who can provide a confidential financial review and offer impartial advice on the best debt relief options, such as budgeting and debt consolidation, among others.”

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 Canadian 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.

Consultation icon