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Winnipeg’s wealthiest carry more debt, less risk of bankruptcy: report

WINNIPEG — For years financial experts have been saying Canadians are carrying too much debt. Now a study out of the University of Winnipeg shows where people with the highest debt levels live in this city.

The Institute of Urban Studies report, Living in the Red, mapped data from TransUnion, a credit rating agency, using postal codes.

READ MORE: Household debt hits record levels, says Statistics Canada

It showed Winnipeg’s wealthiest neighbourhoods, including along Wellington Crescent and Tuxedo, are carrying the highest amount of non-mortgage consumer debt. The lowest amount of debt was in lower-income communities, including the West End and North End.

It factored in credit cards, car loans, line of credits and consumer product financing. It did not include student loans, mortgages and household refinancing.

READ MORE: Survey shows income disparity in Winnipeg neighbourhoods

While wealthier people were more likely to carry significant debt, the study found they aren’t at a greater risk of bankruptcy. That distinction falls on lower income earners.

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“It’s a cascading impact if we saw a widespread economic downturn,” said Jino Distasio, with the University of Winnipeg’s Institute of Urban Studies. “Right now we don’t think we are there but again more and more evidence is pointing to something has to give when we have historically high rates of non-mortgage debt.”

Sandra Fry helps those struggling with debt at the Credit Counseling Society.

She recommends consolidating debt if possible. If not it is best to strategically tackle it.

“We call it a debt snowball where you pay the minimum payments on all the other debts and anything extra you have goes towards the highest interest debt first,” said Fry.

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