New Brunswick senior insolvency spike far outpacing population growth

New statistics show a growing a number of New Brunswick seniors can no longer pay their bills, so much so that the province has become one of the provinces with the highest percentage of seniors declaring insolvency.

Between 2011 and 2014, the number of seniors filing for bankruptcy grew 37 per cent

Rob Johnson says there are a number of reasons behind the spike in seniors declaring bankruptcy. (CBC)

New statistics show a growing a number of New Brunswick seniors can no longer pay their bills, so much so that the province has become one of the provinces with the highest percentage of seniors declaring insolvency.

Between 2011 and 2014, the senior population in New Brunswick increased by 11 per cent, while the number of seniors filing for bankruptcy shot up 37 per cent, from 329 to 452.

Rob Johnson is a trustee and bankruptcy specialist with Allen Marshall and Associates in Fredericton. He says one out of every two or three of his clients is over 65.

The seniors he sees are bringing a lot of debt with them into their retirements, such as mortgages, lines of credit and credit cards.

"A lot of people are slow to adjust their spending habits," he said.

Johnson says many clients are trying to maintain a certain lifestyle, which is impossible to do given their income, so they try to make up the difference by using credit cards.

There are a number of reasons behind the increased numbers, including poor returns on investments, unexpected illness, the death of a spouse and the rising cost of daily staples.

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