Taz Rajan, community engagement partner at Bromwich+Smith, is photographed at her office in Calgary, Alta., Wednesday, Oct. 7, 2020.THE CANADIAN PRESS/Jeff McIntosh

Taz Rajan, community engagement partner at Bromwich+Smith, is photographed at her office in Calgary, Alta., Wednesday, Oct. 7, 2020.THE CANADIAN PRESS/Jeff McIntosh

Seek help early if you are struggling with debt as deferrals end, experts say

Many don’t know where to look for help if they are struggling with debt

As payment deferrals offered during the height of the pandemic come to an end and many Canadians remain out of work or underemployed, experts say if you think you need financial help, the sooner you seek it the better.

The Canada Emergency Response Benefit, which came to an end at the end of September, helped almost nine million Canadians weather the pandemic and Ottawa has announced the new Canada Recovery Benefit for the self-employed who won’t qualify for employment insurance.

But the government aid programs only go so far and only if you qualify, so as payment deferrals on mortgages, car loans and credit cards expire, the bills will start piling up.

Taz Rajan, community engagement partner at insolvency trustees Bromwich+Smith in Calgary, says if you find yourself ignoring or minimizing your situation that can be an early warning sign that you need to take action before it becomes a real problem.

“There’s been deferrals for a while so you haven’t really necessarily had to service all of your debt,” she said.

Other warning signs to watch for, she says, is if your anxiety is interfering your sleep or you are feeling distracted at work

“If you’re finding there’s more month than money or all of the money that comes into your account is going to service your debt, that is definitely a sign you want to reach out for help,” Rajan said.

While many Canadians have adjusted to working from home or returned to work since the lockdowns of the spring have eased, many people remain out of work or working fewer hours due to the pandemic.

Bankruptcy filings dropped in the spring as government aid programs kicked in and lenders offered deferral programs to help struggling Canadians, but as the crisis has continued, those deferral programs are now coming to an end and payments will need to resume.

Credit Counselling Canada is offering free financial health checkups to help Canadians assess where they stand.

“CERB helped many people stay afloat hoping for better times and the shift to EI and other programs like the CRB will be helpful, but the fact is a lot of Canadians are going to see less funds coming from those sources,” said Michelle Pommells, the association’s chief executive.

She said while many Canadians know what the financial warning signs are, many don’t know where to look for help if they are struggling with debt.

An online survey done for the association at the end of August found that 37 per cent had no idea where to turn when facing financial difficulty, while 23 per cent would pretend the problem doesn’t exist.

“Rather like compound interest, unfortunately debt just compounds and gets worse unless you deal with it, so burying your head in the sand is not the answer,” she said.

Pommells said non-profit credit counselling organizations can offer unbiased advice for those seeking help.

“A non-profit credit counsellor will sit down with you and explain all the options that are available to you,” she said.

Pommells suggested that as the crisis has dragged on, those helped by Ottawa’s aid programs have also likely been burning through savings and others sources of cash to help carry themselves through the summer and now those funds may be running out.

“Now is the time to reach out and recognize that the warning signs of debt are important, but they can only be addressed if people take action,” she said.

Rajan says there can be a lot of shame and stigma associated with debt, but being able to talk about it is important.

“It is about that normalizing the conversation, we haven’t gotten there yet, but that’s what we’re hoping to do,” she said.

Craig Wong, The Canadian Press


Like us on Facebook and follow us on Twitter.

Want to support local journalism during the pandemic? Make a donation here.

CoronavirusDebt

Get local stories you won't find anywhere else right to your inbox.
Sign up here

Just Posted

The Quesnel RCMP Detachment is one of seven northern police buildings which can now connect directly to Prince George for daily bail hearings. (Observer File Photo)
Bail hearings going virtual in B.C.’s north

A court pilot project will see virtual courtroom cameras set up in seven RCMP detatchments

FILE – Wet’suwet’en hereditary chiefs have agreed to sign a memorandum on rights and title with B.C. and Ottawa, but elected chiefs are demanding it be called off over lack of consultation. (Thom Barker photo)
Wet’suwet’en hereditary chiefs, Lake Babine Nation get provincial funding for land, title rights

Government says it’s a new, flexible model for future agreements between Canada, B.C. and First Nations.

The property on which a residential school (pictured) that was torn down years ago in Lower Post is to be the location of a cultural centre. (Indian Residential School History and Dialogue Centre photo)
Lower Post residential school building to be demolished, replaced with cultural centre

Project to be funded by federal and provincial governments, Daylu Dena Council

Photo collage of loved ones lost to substance use and overdose. (Photo courtesy Moms Stop The Harm)
B.C. overdose deaths still rising 5 years after public health emergency declared

Moms Stop the Harm calls on B.C. to provide safe supply in response to deadly illicit drug use

Angelique Houlihan gets her COVID-19 vaccine jab last week at the community-wide clinic. (Angelique Houlihan photo)
Vaccine clinic continues this week

Plenty of booking spots available

Vancouver resident Beryl Pye was witness to a “concerning,” spontaneous dance party that spread throughout social groups at Kitsilano Beach on April 16. (Screen grab/Beryl Pye)
VIDEO: Dance party erupts at Vancouver’s Kitsilano Beach to the dismay of onlookers

‘It was a complete disregard for current COVID-19 public health orders,’ says Vancouver resident Beryl Pye

Lord Tweedsmuir’s Tremmel States-Jones jumps a player and the goal line to score a touchdown against the Kelowna Owls in 2019. The face of high school football, along with a majority of other high school sports, could significantly change if a new governance proposal is passed at the B.C. School Sports AGM May 1. (Malin Jordan)
Power struggle: New governance model proposed for B.C. high school sports

Most commissions are against the new model, but B.C. School Sports (BCSS) and its board is in favour

Pall Bearers carrying the coffin of the Duke of Edinburgh, followed by the Prince of Wales, left and Princess Anne, right, into St George’s Chapel for his funeral, at Windsor Castle, in Windsor, England, Saturday April 17, 2021. (Danny Lawson/Pool via AP)
Trudeau announces $200K donation to Duke of Edinburgh award as Prince Philip laid to rest

A tribute to the late prince’s ‘remarkable life and his selfless service,’ the Prime Minister said Saturday

B.C. homeowners are being urged to take steps to prepare for the possibility of a flood by moving equipment and other assets to higher ground. (J.R. Rardon)
‘Entire province faces risk’: B.C. citizens urged to prepare for above-average spring flooding

Larger-than-normal melting snowpack poses a threat to the province as warmer weather touches down

Vancouver-based Doubleview Gold Corp. is developing claims in an area north of Telegraph Creek that occupies an important place in Tahltan oral histories, said Chad Norman Day, president of the Tahltan Central Government. (THE CANADIAN PRESS/HO)
B.C. Indigenous nation opposes mineral exploration in culturally sensitive area

There’s “no way” the Tahltan would ever support a mine there, says Chad Norman Day, president of its central government

Stz’uminus Elder George Harris, Ladysmith Mayor Aaron Stone, and Stz’uminus Chief Roxanne Harris opened the ceremony. (Cole Schisler photo)
Symbolic red dresses rehung along B.C. highway after vandals tore them down

Leaders from Stz’uminus First Nation and the Town of Ladysmith hung new dresses on Sat. April 17

A Western toadlet crosses the centre line of Elk View Road in Chilliwack on Aug. 26, 2010. A tunnel underneath the road has since been installed to help them migrate cross the road. Saturday, April 24 is Save the Frogs Day. (Jenna Hauck/ Progress File)
Unofficial holidays: Here’s what people are celebrating for the week of April 18 to 24

Save the Frogs Day, Love Your Thighs Day and Scream Day are all coming up this week

Local carpenter Tyler Bohn embarked on a quest to create the East Sooke Treehouse, after seeing people build similar structures on a Discovery Channel show. (East Sooke Treehouse Facebook photo)
PHOTOS: B.C. carpenter builds fort inspired by TV’s ‘Treehouse Masters’

The whimsical structure features a wooden walking path, a loft, kitchen – and is now listed on Airbnb

The Attorney General’s Ministry says certain disputes may now be resolved through either a tribunal or the court system, pending its appeal of a B.C. Supreme Court decision that reduced the tribunal’s jurisdiction. (AP Photo/Mark J. Terrill)
Court of Appeal grants partial stay in ruling on B.C. auto injuries

B.C. trial lawyers challenged legislation brought in to cap minor injury awards and move smaller court disputes to the Civil Resolution Tribunal

Most Read