Quebec Residents Increasingly Pessimistic About Their Consumer Debt — Yet Far Fewer on the Brink of Insolvency

Montreal, QC, January 20, 2020 —More Quebec residents see grey skies on the horizon heading into the new year as fewer expect their debt situation to improve within the next 12 months, according to the latest MNP Consumer Debt Index conducted quarterly by Ipsos. Quebecers’ net confidence in their financial futures a year down the road dropped four points since September. When comparing their current debt situation to five years in the future, net confidence increased just one point.

Montreal skyline during a fall sunset

“Our findings may point to a shift from debt apathy to debt hopelessness among some Quebecers, at least in the shorter term,” says Frederic Lachance, a Montreal-based Licensed Insolvency Trustee with MNP LTD. “When someone feels hopeless about paying down their debts, they may just give up on ever being debt free. Or worse, it might make them ignore the debt as it continues to pile up even higher.”

There is not only increasing pessimism among Quebec residents about their financial futures. Quebecers also feel worse off now compared to the past. In fact, net optimism compared to one year ago now matches the lowest point ever recorded back in December 2017. Nearly one in six (15%, -1%) Quebecers say their debt situation is worse than it was five years ago.

“For the clients I see in my office, many have come to realize there is no straightforward path for them to repay what they have borrowed — no matter the timeframe or interest rate. However, we are seeing fewer on the brink of insolvency,” says Lachance.

The number of Quebecers who say they are already insolvent and cannot meet all their monthly financial obligations dropped five points to 27 percent. Just about half (48%, - 7%) still say they are $200 or less away from being insolvent at month end. Almost half (50%, +1%) aren’t confident they will be able to cover their family and living expenses this year without going into further debt.

“There is still a significant number of people in the province who are using debt to supplement their incomes. Using credit this way is a recipe for financial disaster, because the debtor becomes so vulnerable to any kind of unexpected expenses,” Lachance says.

The index also showed Quebecers are uneasy when it comes to being prepared for the unexpected. For example, about a third (35%) are confident in their ability to cope with a life-changing event such as a serious illness (-4%), loss of employment, change in wage or seasonal work (-1%) without increasing their debt load.

“Breaking the debt cycle requires more than simply paying off what you owe. You also need to change your mindset and behaviours so you can avoid falling into the same cycle of debt in the future,” says Lachance.

While it seems more Quebecers are starting to seek professional help with their debt, one of the biggest behavioural changes still required among those who are severely indebted is shucking the tendency to isolate rather than reach out for guidance. 

“Don’t wait too long to get support. Too often, we have clients who come into our offices after struggling for years to repay their debts. In some cases, decades go by before they are willing to seek help,” he explains. “Once it has reached the point where your debt is causing you stress or impacting your relationships, that is the time to ask for advice.”

MNP Ltd. offers Free Confidential Consultations and their team of Licensed Insolvency Trustees are empowered to help those struggling financially to make the most informed choices to deal with their debt. Licensed Insolvency Trustees are the only federally regulated professionals who can provide regulated insolvency options, such as a Consumer Proposals and Bankruptcies.

About MNP LTD

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 MNPdebt.ca to contact a Licensed Insolvency Trustee or use our free Do it Yourself (DIY) debt assessment tools.  

About the MNP Consumer Debt Index

The MNP Consumer Debt Index measures Canadians’ attitudes toward their consumer debt and gauges their ability to pay 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 MNPdebt.ca/CDI to learn more.

The latest data, representing the eleventh wave of the MNP Consumer Debt Index, was compiled by Ipsos on behalf of MNP LTD between December 4 and December 9, 2019. For this survey, a sample of 2,000 Canadians aged 18 years and over was interviewed. The precision of online polls is measured using a credibility interval. In this case, the results are accurate to within +2.5 percentage points, 19 times out of 20, of what the results would have been 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.