Calgary

More than 40 Albertans went broke every day for the past year on record

More and more Albertans are unable to pay their debts, according to the latest data from Canada's Superintendent of Bankruptcy.

Consumer insolvencies rise 10%, mirroring trends in other oil-producing provinces

While some Albertans are insolvent due to job losses or business failures, others have simply gotten themselves too deep in debt, says a licensed insolvency trustee in Calgary. (Ryan Remiorz/Canadian Press)

More and more Albertans are unable to pay their debts, according to the latest data from Canada's Superintendent of Bankruptcy.

There were 14,696 consumer insolvencies filed in the province over the 12 months ending in January, a figure that includes both bankruptcies and consumer proposals.

That's more than 40 per day.

It's also up 10 per cent from the previous 12-month period.

Donna Carson, a licensed insolvency trustee with MNP in Calgary, says the data is "pretty bang-on" with what she's been seeing at the accounting firm.

Carson said many of the clients she's been working with have become insolvent after a job loss or a business failure. Others, meanwhile, are still employed and have simply gotten themselves into trouble by racking up too much debt.

"That's something that I see really regularly — just a lack of a budgeting," she said.

Carson said increases in interest rates in the past year have put pressure on Albertans who were at or near the limit of being able to service their debts.

In a report released last week, Statistics Canada found Calgary had a debt-to-after-tax-family-income ratio of 189 per cent.

That was the fourth-highest out of all the metropolitan areas in the country, behind Victoria, Vancouver and Toronto.

Edmonton was sixth on the list, with a ratio of 171 per cent.

The rate of insolvencies has also tended to be higher in urban areas, particularly in the eastern half of Calgary.

Zoom, scroll, click on and search this interactive map to see insolvencies in Alberta in 2018, by postal code:

Can't see the map? Click here for a version that should work on your mobile device.


Carson said insolvencies have generally trended upward since the oil-price crash of late 2014 — not just in Alberta but across other oil-producing provinces, as well.

"You can see it in Alberta, Saskatchewan and Newfoundland — that in 2015 insolvencies started to spike again," she said.

There's also been a growing number of insolvencies among seniors, Carson said, not just in oil-producing provinces, but right across the country.

"They would mostly attribute that to the cost of living going up, whereas their pension doesn't go up in a corresponding way," she said. 

"And a lot of them would also say they've been helping out their own family and now they can't do it any more and they've got their own debt to deal with."

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