Study finds embarrassment keeping Manitobans from seeking help for debt

Click to play video: 'A poll finds Manitobans are wary to ask for help with their debt.' A poll finds Manitobans are wary to ask for help with their debt.
A new poll finds 45 per cent of people in Manitoba and Saskatchewan are too embarrassed to ask for help with their debt. As Amber McGuckin reports, help is out there for those brave enough to ask – Jul 29, 2019

A new poll says Manitobans struggling to get out of debt may be making things even harder for themselves by not reaching out for help.

The survey, conducted for insolvency firm MNP Ltd., found 45 per cent of respondents in Manitoba and Saskatchewan would be too embarrassed to get help if their financial situation was bad enough to consider bankruptcy.

A third of the respondents said the stigma around bankruptcy keeps them from reaching out.

“It can be extremely lonely for those struggling with debt because the shame prevents people from talking about it,” said Gord Neudorf of MNP, in a release.

“Unfortunately, our survey shows that those who are most in need of help are the least inclined to ask for it.”

READ MORE: Manitoba Real Estate Association pushes back against study claiming millennials priced out of market

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The results, released Monday, found two-thirds of Manitoba and Saskatchewan residents describe their debt situation as bad and three in 10 said they don’t know where to turn for help.

Numbers from the Office of the Superintendent of Bankruptcy show the number of Manitobans who filed for bankruptcy or a consumer proposal during the first four months of 2019 has increased nearly 24 per cent over the same time in 2018.

That’s the largest increase across Canada.

But at the same time the MNP survey found 43 per cent of respondents in Manitoba and Saskatchewan would have hard time trusting a professional company to help them get out of debt.

Neudorf thinks that lack of trust stems partially from a “lack of financial literacy and awareness about debt relief options available.”

“Many people – particularly young people – don’t know that there is a regulated system in place to help severely indebted individuals regain financial stability,” he said.

READ MORE: Manitoba millennials priced out of local housing market: study

Sandra Fry from the Credit Counselling Society says people walk into her office in debt, worried about the next steps.

“There’s usually a trigger that happens that puts them over the edge and they cant manage those payments anymore,” she said, adding it’s important to actually track your receipts to get a clear picture of your spending habits.

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“You’re not going to be in control of your money if you don’t know where it’s going. Start with figuring out where it’s going and then you can find ways to cut back.”

WATCH: Credit Counselor talks about the common reasons people end up in debt

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Sandra Fry talks about debt – Jul 29, 2019

Many people Global News spoke to admitted they over spend in some areas.

“Well we have three kids and two of them are in baseball so it’s so much easier to grab something on the way to the diamond than it is to prepare and plan and all that stuff. Even though we know that’s what we should be doing,” Melanie Lawrenz said.

Others say they spend too much on fun.

“It’s a tough debate — be bored and broke or I can have a little entertainment and be a little more broke and I’ve been broke most of my life,” Dan Huen said.

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In May the Canada Mortgage and Housing Corp. said Canadian household debt reached a record high of 178.5 per cent at the end of 2018, even as mortgage activity slowed.

Ipsos, which conducts the quarterly poll for MNP, surveyed 2,111 Canadians online from June 14-17.

The precision of Ipsos online polls is measured using a credibility interval. In this case, the poll is accurate to within ±2.4 percentage points, 19 times out of 20, had all Canadian adults been polled. The credibility interval will be wider among subsets of the population.

The polling industry’s professional body, the Marketing Research and Intelligence Association, says online surveys cannot be assigned a margin of error because they do not randomly sample the population.

–With files from the Canadian Press

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