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

BC Ferries’ Northern Expedition holding in Port Hardy while technicians repair the S-radar. The sailing was delayed by two days, leaving passengers stranded. (Zoe Ducklow photo)
Northern Expedition rescheduled to sail for Bella Bella, Prince Rupert after mechanical issues

The S-radar malfunctioned twice, causing a two-day delay in Port Hardy

The River Forecast Centre is maintaining a flood watch for the area, including the Bella Coola River and tributaries, Kingcome River, Owikeeno-Rivers Inlet, and surrounding areas.
Wuikinuxv under evacuation order, more rain in forecast

Bella Coola’s Hill has re-opened but road conditions are muddy and wet

One person was killed in a two-vehicle crash south of Williams Lake on Highway 97 Wednesday, Oct. 28, 2020. (Photo submitted)
Highway 97 crash south of Williams Lake claims one life

Road conditions at the time were slippery and covered with slush: RCMP

Highway 20 is closed from the top Avalanche gate to the bottom Avalanche gate as of 19:30 on Tuesday October 27, 2020 (WL Tribune photo)
Rockslide closes the Hill as rain pours down in Bella Coola

Bad weather has resulted in rockfall on the Hill on Highway 20

The River Forecast Centre is issuing a Flood Watch for the Central Coast including Bella Coola River (file photo)
Flood watch issued for Bella Coola River

The River Forecast Centre is issuing a Flood Watch for the Bella Coola River

Over the years, Janice Blackie-Goodine’s home in Summerland has featured elaborate Halloween displays and decorations each October. (File photo)
QUIZ: How much do you really know about Halloween?

Oct. 31 is a night of frights. How much do you know about Halloween customs and traditions?

FILE - In this Jan. 23, 1987 file photo, actor Sean Connery holds a rose in his hand as he talks about his new movie “The Name of the Rose” at a news conference in London. Scottish actor Sean Connery, considered by many to have been the best James Bond, has died aged 90, according to an announcement from his family. (AP Photo/Gerald Penny, File)
Actor Sean Connery, the ‘original’ James Bond, dies at 90

Oscar-winner was knighted by Queen Elizabeth II in 2000

This house at 414 Royal Ave. became notorious for its residents’ and visitors’ penchant for attracting police. It was also the site of a gruesome torture in August 2018. It was demolished in 2019. KTW
6-year sentence for Kamloops man who helped carve ‘rat’ into flesh of fellow gang member

Ricky Dennis was one of three men involved in the August 2018 attack

Cpl. Nathan Berze, media officer for the Mission RCMP, giving an update on the investigation at 11:30 a.m., Oct. 30. Patrick Penner photo.
VIDEO: Prisoner convicted of first-degree murder still at large from Mission Institution

When 10 p.m. count was conducted, staff discovered Roderick Muchikekwanape had disappeared

Is it time to start thinking about greener ways to package cannabis?

Packaging suppliers are still figuring eco-friendly and affordable packaging options that fit the mandates of Cannabis Regulations

Join Black Press Media and Do Some Good

Pay it Forward program supports local businesses in their community giving

BC Ferries lower car deck. (Zoe Ducklow photo)
Northern Expedition ferry holding in Port Hardy

Radar issues caused the ferry to turn around

Among the pumpkin carvings created this year by Rick Chong of Abbotsford is this tribute to fallen officer Cont. Allan Young.
Abbotsford pumpkin carver’s creations include fallen police officer

Rick Chong carves and displays 30 pumpkins every year

An online fundraising campaign in support of the six-year-old boy, Edgar Colby, who was hit by a car on Range Road Oct. 25 has raised more than $62,000 in a day. (Submitted)
$62K raised in 1 day for boy in coma at BC Children’s after being hit by vehicle in Yukon

The boy’s aunt says the family is “very grateful” for the support they’ve received from the community

Most Read