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

Northern Health saw 14 cases in one day earlier this week, the highest in one day since the beginning of the pandemic. (Image courtesy CDC)
Northern Health sees highest number of new COVID-19 cases in one day

Oct. 27 saw the highest number of new cases in the Health Authority since the start of the pandemic

Members of the Sipekne’katik First Nation load lobster traps on the wharf in Saulnierville, N.S., after launching its own self-regulated fishery on Thursday, Sept. 17, 2020. When Jaime Battiste was in his early 20s, cable news channels were full of images of Mi’kmaq fishermen in New Brunswick battling federal fisheries officers over seized lobster traps. (THE CANADIAN PRESS/Andrew Vaughan)
Nisga’a Lisims Government calls on Prime Minister to act in N.S. fisheries dispute

NLG President: “We are shocked by what’s happening in Nova Scotia”

A nurse prepares a flu shot. The public vaccine for the 2020-2021 flu season is now in pharmacies in Terrace. (AP Photo/David Goldman, File)
Private flu vaccines scarce at Terrace pharmacies

Public flu vaccines still available for those with greatest need

“We have to make a call out to address this now so our people don’t have to feel fearful,” said Tribal Chief Mina Holmes. (Carrier Sekani Tribal Council Facebook photo)
Carrier Sekani Tribal Council seeks Indigenous-led task force in northern B.C. hospitals

Request made in an open letter to federal minister Carolyn Bennett

A woman wears a face mask and plastic gloves while browsing books as a sticker on the floor indicates a one-way direction of travel between shelves of books at the Vancouver Public Library’s central branch, after it and four other branches reopened with limited services, in Vancouver, on Tuesday, July 14, 2020. (THE CANADIAN PRESS/Darryl Dyck)
B.C. reports 234 new COVID cases, 1 death of senior who had attended small birthday party

Roughly 5,700 people are isolating due to being exposed to a confirmed case

Burnaby RCMP responded to a dine-and-dash suspect who fell through a ceiling in March 2020. (RCMP handout)
VIDEO: Suspected dine-and-dasher falls through ceiling of Burnaby restaurant

A woman believed to be dashing on her restaurant bill fell through the kitchen ceiling

A can of Canada Dry Ginger Ale is shown in Toronto on Thursday Oct. 29, 2020. The maker of Canada Dry Ginger Ale has agreed to pay over $200,000 to settle a class-action lawsuit launched by a B.C. man who alleged he was misled by marketing suggesting the soda had medicinal benefits. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Joseph O’Connal
B.C. man’s lawsuit over marketing of Canada Dry ginger ale settled for $200K

Soda’s maker, Canada Dry Mott’s Inc., denied the allegations and any liability

Vancouver Island-based Wilson’s Transportation has expanded to fill some of the routes left unserviced by Greyhound as of Nov. 1, 2018. (Black Press files)
B.C. bus companies say they need help to survive COVID-19

Like airlines, motor coaches have lost most of their revenue

Join Black Press Media and Do Some Good

Pay it Forward program supports local businesses in their community giving

A deer was spotted in October 2020 in Prince Rupert, B.C., with a bright pink yoga ball stuck in its antlers. (Kayla Vickers/Chronicles Of Hammy The Deer Official Page)
Hammy 2.0? Prince Rupert deer spotted with bright pink yoga ball stuck in antlers

The BC Conservation Officer Service is aware of the deer roaming around the city

RCMP. (Phil McLachlan - Black Press Media)
Kelowna Mountie hit with 2nd lawsuit in 2 months for alleged assault

Const. Julius Prommer is accused of breaking a woman’s knee during while responding to a noise complaint

Hirdeypal Batth, 24, has been charged with sexual assault and forcible confinement in relation to an incident in August 2020. (VPD handout)
Man, 24, charged with sex assault after allegedly posing as Uber driver in Vancouver

Investigators believe there could be more victims outside of the Vancouver area

B.C. Premier John Horgan and Washington Gov. Jay Inslee arrive for annual Cascadia conference in Vancouver, Oct. 10, 2018. They have agreed to coordinate the permanent switch to daylight saving time. (B.C. government)
B.C. still awaiting U.S. approval to eliminate daylight saving time

Clocks going back one hour Nov. 1 in Washington too

Most Read