Over half in Saskatchewan close to insolvency: report

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WATCH: New data is shedding a light on how the pandemic is affecting the burden of debt in Saskatchewan. – Oct 18, 2020

A pair of new reports are shedding light on the financial struggles facing Saskatchewanians seven months into the coronavirus pandemic, and one suggests more than half are close to being insolvent.

Fifty-three per cent of respondents in MNP’s recent Consumer Debt Index, which surveyed Saskatchewan and Manitoba residents, said they were $200 or less from being insolvent at end-of-month.

Pamela Meger, a Licensed Insolvency Trustee (LIT) with MNP in Regina, says that the response wasn’t unexpected. She said that surveys in March, before pandemic lockdown measures were implemented, indicated 44 per cent of people were already in that situation.

Read more: Majority of Gen Z Canadians close to insolvency amid coronavirus pandemic, poll finds

“We had struggled with oil and the effects of that on our economy and everything had kind of slowed down in Saskatchewan prior to the pandemic,” she said, adding that the wind-down of pandemic benefits like CERB and the federal mortgage payment deferral program has exacerbated financial struggles.

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“When we started to hear from people, and they started to look at their budget a few months out — that’s when we started to hear people say, ‘oh we actually might need some help.'”

The MNP report wasn’t the only one released this week that shed light on financial struggles in Saskatchewan.

Read more: Many Canadians will turn to debt when government benefits run out, survey suggests

The BDO Canada Affordability Index, released annually, suggested Saskatchewan residents have been hit harder in the pocketbook by the pandemic than have other Canadians.

Forty-one per cent of Saskatchewan residents surveyed said their financial situation is worse off now than when the pandemic began.

Michelle Statz, a LIT with BDO Canada in Regina, echoed Meger’s assessment.

“I seem to recall last year that Saskatchewan is a province with more people struggling,” she said, referencing last year’s BDO Canada Affordability Index. “The debt levels are higher, and so COVID has just kind of exacerbated that.”

Read more: Racialized groups in Canada will ‘lose’ in the post-pandemic economy. Experts aren’t surprised

Both Meger and Statz agreed that with no end to the pandemic in sight, and the holiday season right around the corner, now is an important time to have a close look at your budget.

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“Now is the time to dive into it. Look at your situation. Look at your payments. Look at the money that’s coming in, and assess your situation overall financially, said Statz. “I think what we may see in the weeks and months to come is maybe something even a little bit worse.”