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People in B.C. increasingly struggle to pay debts, make ends meet

Last Updated Aug 21, 2019 at 12:28 pm PDT

Credit cards are seen in Montreal on December 12, 2012. TransUnion says a spike in borrowing over the last year has led millennials to overtake boomers in total debt holdings as part of a generational shift. The credit reporting agency says total millennial debt was up by 12.3 per cent at mid-year compared with a year ago to hit $515.9 billion, just ahead of the $514.3 billion owed by boomers but still behind the $767.4 billion held by Gen X. Younger borrowers helped push overall consumer debt up 4.3 per cent compared with last year to $1.88 trillion, while debt held by boomers and the silent generation declined. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Ryan Remiorz

The number of British Columbians unable to pay their debts is up 5.5 per cent

High housing costs and student loan debt are driving the increase, one expert says

VANCOUVER (NEWS 1130) — British Columbians have more debt than other Canadians and are increasingly struggling to pay it off, according to new data released Wednesday.

Insolvency, the inability to pay back creditors on their terms and on time, is up 5 per cent from last year in the province, a report from the Office of the Superintendent of Bankruptcy released Wednesday, shows.

“More and more British Columbians are having a tougher time making ends meet and, unfortunately, have been utilizing credit at a faster rate than the majority of Canadians,” says Scott Hannah, President and CEO of the Credit Counselling Society. “More British Columbians have faced the point of no return and aren’t able to keep up.”

Hannah says high housing costs partially explain the problem in B.C., especially in the Lower Mainland.

“We’re paying a substantially higher percentage of our take home pay, whether it’s for rent or mortgage, just to put a roof over our head in comparison to other places in Canada,” he says.

Hannah adds post-secondary graduates are leaving school with high debts and working lower-wage jobs, making it tougher to pay off their loans.

The increase in B.C. is indicative of an overall shift in Canada where being in debt has become the norm, according to Hannah.

“Consumers are becoming far more comfortable with debt. We used to be a nation of savers, now we’re a nation of debtors,” he says.