Calgary

Insolvencies in Alberta spike 15 per cent over last year

Alberta's volume of insolvency filings continues to surpass the numbers seen during the global financial crisis a decade ago, as people and businesses still suffer the effects of the latest recession.

'I've never seen volumes ... like this and such consistent, higher numbers'

2019 was a financially difficult year for many Albertans, with a 15% increase in insolvencies during the 12 months ending in October. (CBC)

Alberta's volume of insolvency filings continues to surpass the numbers seen during the global financial crisis a decade ago, as people and businesses still suffer the effects of the latest recession.

The latest report from the Office of the Superintendent of Bankruptcy Canada says there were 15 per cent more consumer insolvencies in Alberta during the 12 months ending in October 2019, compared to a year earlier.

The report says 16,315 Albertans filed for insolvency during that time, compared with 14,192 the previous year.

Donna Carson, a licensed insolvency trustee, says people in her profession are being kept busy.

"Alberta is seeing numbers that are about 20 per cent higher than they were even back then [in 2008]," she said.

"I've been working in insolvency for 28 years now and I've never seen volumes, if you will, like this and such consistent, higher numbers."

Carson says there are ways people can re-structure their debt, rather than declaring bankruptcy. But she says that means knowing what your true budget is.

"Try to sit down and figure out your budget early, try to sit down and look at what your options are early before garnishees happen, before creditors start taking things away, before it gets to that stage," she said.

Business insolvencies rise too

During the same 12-month period, the report says 111 individual businesses became insolvent in Alberta, compared to 101 the previous year.

The report says 118 corporations filed for insolvency during the same period, up from 101 the year earlier.

Carson said many of her most recent clients are actually business owners who leveraged their own personal assets in order to try to keep their businesses operating.

"If the business was one of the unfortunate ones that didn't survive — they've been trying to deal with their personal exposure from it and unfortunately, for more people now, time has run out," she said.

Carson said many of her clients have drained protected funds such as RRSPs to stay afloat.

But she recommends doing that only if it will actually clear the debt. Otherwise, she suggests leaving the money where it is, since it can't be touched even if bank accounts are frozen or wages are subject to garnishment.

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