Three in ten British Columbians say they cannot pay their bills each month, the most of any province

2020-10-13   minute read

Linda Paul

MNP Consumer Debt Index


Debt concerns in the province grow, employment uncertainty highest in B.C.

VANCOUVER, BC – October 13, 2020 – As the province enters its seventh month of economic disruption, the pandemic is spotlighting issues for those dealing with job loss, debt, eviction, and food insecurity. The latest MNP Consumer Debt Index points to debt trouble in British Columbia, particularly as payment deferrals and government emergency aid programs change or wind down.

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

Three in ten (30%) British Columbians now say they cannot cover their monthly bills and debt repayments, a significant eight-point jump since the last wave in June and the highest proportion of any province. More than four in 10 (44%, +1) say they are $200 or less away from insolvency at month-end. 

“Those who have lost employment or wages are struggling with financial uncertainty. To make matters worse, many aren’t sure whether their job will still be around after the pandemic,” says Linda Paul, a Licensed Insolvency Trustee with MNP LTD in the Lower Mainland. 

There are other signs more trouble could be on the horizon as bills quickly become due. Almost half (49%) of British Columbians are worried they or someone in their household could lose their job, a whopping 11-point increase since June and also the highest proportion compared to the other provinces. Furthermore, regardless of employment status, almost half of British Columbians (45%, +1) say they are worried about their current level of debt, the highest proportion since 2017.

“After months of uncertainty and dwindling personal finances, many are facing a reckoning where they need help to deal with their debt. These individuals need to know help is available. Licensed Insolvency Trustees offer customized guidance to help determine the best path forward and consultations are free,” says Paul.

She says depending on the extent of the debt and the individual’s income, dealing with debt problems may involve some combination of the following:  

  1. Budgeting — Creating a monthly financial plan to help track income and expenses, and potentially free up more cash to pay down debts.

  2. Refinancing — Re-negotiating the term and interest rate on existing credit accounts to reduce the monthly cost of debts and make them easier to repay.

  3. Liquidating — Selling high-value assets such as vehicles, recreational properties, sporting goods, and jewelry to provide the financing needed to pay down debt.

  4. Consolidating — Combining all debts into a single monthly payment with a lower average interest rate to reduce the number of payments and their total cost.

  5. Consumer Proposal — Working with a Licensed Insolvency Trustee to negotiate a legally binding debt settlement with your creditors that will reduce the amount owing, and which can take up to five years to repay.

  6. Bankruptcy — A legal process that provides immediate protection to individuals experiencing financial trouble and can extinguish debts through a combination of asset liquidation and (potentially) monthly payments.

    Bankruptcy may be the right option for those who have (1) had wages garnished, (2) are unable to make credit card and loan payments on time, (3) are receiving past due Notices or calls from debt collectors, or (4) who owe more money than the value of things they own.

“Bankruptcy may be the best option for some, but it’s the last step after exhausting all other avenues. The earlier you can get help, the more options you’ll have. Everyone’s debt situation is different, so a consultation is crtitical to ensure you receive accurate, unbiased advice,” says Paul.

Licensed Insolvency Trustees are the only federally regulated debt professionals who can provide expertise about all of the debt relief options and ensure those struggling financially have access to the complete range of debt relief options available.   

MNP LTD offers free consultations via videoconferencing and by phone. Visit to book an appointment or to start a live chat.


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

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 fourteenth wave, the Index currently stands at 94 points, the second-lowest reading ever, on the heels of having hit record-low in March of this year. Visit to learn more.

The latest data, representing the fourteenth wave of the MNP Consumer Debt Index, was compiled by Ipsos on behalf of MNP LTD between September 1-3, 2020. For this survey, a sample of 2,001 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 some of the national data is available by request.

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