Risky Financial Behaviours Keeping Quebecers In Debt

2020-03-02   minute read

Jean-Francois Cliche

MNP Consumer Debt Index

One in 10 (12%) say they will never be out of debt; require just under 7 years to be debt free on average.

Montreal, QC, March 2, 2020 — A survey conducted by Ipsos on behalf of MNP LTD helps identify some of Quebecers’ costly money mistakes which could be contributing to the mounting consumer debt challenges across the province. From making only minimum payments to borrowing money they can’t afford to repay, the survey found more than half of Quebec residents (54%) admit to engaging in what debt experts consider risky financial behaviours over the past year.

Montreal skyline during a fall sunset

“Risky behaviours like only making minimum payments, succumbing to impulse buys and taking on debt you can’t afford can cause you to get stuck in an endless cycle of debt that can take years to break free from,” says Jean-François Cliche, a debt expert with MNP LTD, the country’s largest insolvency firm.

Making only the minimum credit card payment was the most common risky behaviour among Quebecers last year, with one in five (19%) admitting to doing so.

“Some people are making reckless and impulsive financial decisions. But others are simply engaging in these behaviours out of desperation. They are struggling with their finances and are making questionable choices to try and manage their debts,” says Cliche.

Being lured in by deals and special offers (19%) and making only the minimum payment on a line of credit (12%) were among the other common financial mistakes among Quebecers. About 1 in 10 said they spent money they shouldn’t have in order to 'keep up with the Joneses' (9%), made a major purchase on credit without paying it off right away (10%) or bought something on credit that requires no payments for a while (8%).

Cash-strapped, already saddled with debt and struggling to navigate, 1 in 10 (10%) also admitted to borrowing money that they know they can’t afford to pay back.

“These risky behaviours could be the result of a lack of financial illiteracy. For instance, people may not be considering the long-term consequences of seeking out fast money, whether they are using it to live beyond their means or simply using it to try to manage their debts,” says Cliche.

While about 3 in 10 (31%) Quebecers are fortunate enough to say that they are currently living without debt obligations, it seems that about 1 in 10 (12%) are suffering the consequences of their money mistakes and have lost hope; they say that they will never be debt-free.

“A lot of people who are in debt feel like they’re in it alone. They often experience feelings of hopelessness and are too embarrassed to ask for help. But delaying getting help only worsens the situation,” explains Cliche.

Many Quebecers believe they can be debt free one day but will still be struggling for years to come. Of the remaining 57 percent who aren’t debt free or haven’t lost hope of becoming debt free, they estimate it will take approximately 6 years and 10 months to pay off their debts.

“Becoming debt free is an attainable goal, regardless of how badly you are struggling financially. Licenced Insolvency Trustees can help anyone, even those who are severely indebted. They can advise you on how to effectively get your debts under control by making more informed financial choices,” says Cliche.  

MNP LTD has an experienced team of Licensed Insolvency Trustees who provide federally regulated debt-relief options, such as Consumer Proposals and Bankruptcies. They offer free consultations in more than 230 offices across the county.  


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 Survey

This survey was conducted by Ipsos on behalf of MNP LTD between December 4 and December 9, 2019. 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.

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