Nfld. & Labrador

Newfoundlanders and Labradorians borrowing beyond their means

A debt counselling company says the number of people in Newfoundland and Labrador who can't make their payments on time is up significantly.
Debt counsellors say people are much more comfortable with living on credit than they were a generation or two ago. (CBC)

A debt counselling company says the number of people in Newfoundland and Labrador who can't make their payments on time is up significantly.

Ian Penney, a chartered accountant with Janes Noseworthy, a group of debt experts with offices around the province, said he's been seeing more and more people across the province having financial trouble — regardless of employment status.

"The most striking thing is that after four or five years of steady declines in insolvency in Newfoundland, in the last six months we have seen an 11 per cent increase in filings in Newfoundland and Labrador," he said.

"It runs the gamut. People are just generally overextended. They've got big vehicles and there are big bills that go along with keeping those vehicles on the road, and people are a lot less adverse to credit than they were a generation ago."

Chartered Accountant Ian Penney leads Janes Noseworthy, the province's largest group of debt advisors. (CBC)

Penney also cited the costs of heating and running a large suburban house as examples of how people are living beyond their means.

He also said that unlike with previous generations, today's seniors are coming into his office more and more with credit problems.

"Times are changing," he said.

"People are not afraid of credit and maybe don't fully understand the risks of credit."

According to Penney, many people are buying vehicles that are bigger and more expensive than they can actually afford. (Associated Press)

Penney said the downturn in mining in western Labrador has hit people there especially hard, but he said debt problems are affecting people across the province these days, including the St. John's area. 

"Rural Newfoundland and Labrador has historically, for the last 10 or 15 years, had a disproportionate share of the insolvencies, but now it's very much an Avalon phenomenon — it's very much a St. John's phenomenon," he said.

"People generally have a lot of debt, and it's not going to take much of a bump in the road for them to really get in some trouble."


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