Insolvency filing spike in Nova Scotia ‘alarming’: expert

WATCH ABOVE: A Halifax-based licensed insolvency trustee says the increase in consumer insolvencies in the province is "a bit alarming."

The slumping oil market is taking a heavy toll on Nova Scotians, according to one expert who says the number of insolvency filings in the province are up this year.

According to new numbers from the Office of the Superintendent of Bankruptcy Canada, there was a 38.4 per cent spike in the number of consumer insolvencies filed in the province between May 2015 and May 2016.

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That means while 414 people filed for consumer insolvency in May 2015 , 573 filed in the same month this year.

“I would say it’s a bit alarming. In my experience I haven’t seen such a large spike in that particular period of time,” said Derek Cramm, senior vice president and licensed insolvency trustee at MNP Ltd.

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“But having said that, they tend to go in cycles. Obviously if you go back through the statistics for many years you’ll probably see spikes and valleys.”

Cramm says he believes the number of bankruptcies and proposals increased because many people are being forced to leave their jobs out west and return home.

“Mainly I think the layoffs from the oil patch. You have individuals working out there, a lot of them from Nova Scotia and Newfoundland and Labrador obviously losing their jobs and ending up coming back and either not finding jobs or getting jobs at a much lower rate. Obviously they bring back with them significant debts in some cases,” he said.

Cramm says Nova Scotia’s ageing population is likely another contributing factor in the spike.

“A lot of individuals are finding themselves after they retire with a fixed income with the inability to be able to maintain the debts they bring with them after they retire,” he said.

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Alberta (37.1 per cent), Manitoba(31.1 per cent), Saskatchewan (34.8 per cent) and Newfoundland and Labrador (51.3 per cent) all saw an increase in personal insolvencies.

There were much lower increases in provinces like New Brunswick (3.3 per cent), Ontario (6.4 per cent) and Quebec (5.5 per cent).

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Across the country, personal insolvencies rose by 11 per cent in May compared to the same month last year.

Cramm says although dealing with personal debt can be a stressful experience, the best option is to consult with a licensed professional to explore your options.