Insolvency in Canada: Trends and Solutions

Understanding Insolvency in Canada

Insolvency in Canada is a state in which individuals or businesses can’t meet their financial obligations as debts become due. For individuals, this often means being unable to pay bills, mortgages, or other loans. For businesses, it involves struggling to cover operational costs or pay off commercial debts. Insolvency can happen for various reasons, such as loss of income, unexpected expenses, or poor financial planning. It’s important to recognize the signs early and seek help to avoid more severe financial consequences.

Crowe MacKay & Company’s Licensed Insolvency Trustees in Vancouver and Surrey provide expert guidance to help you navigate the complexities of insolvency. If you require assistance, contact our team in Vancouver and Surrey to start your debt relief journey.

Common Causes of Insolvency in Canada

Several factors contribute to insolvency in Canada:

  1. Job Loss: Losing a primary source of income can quickly lead to financial trouble.
  2. Medical Emergencies: Unexpected medical bills can drain savings and increase debt.
  3. Poor Financial Management: Lack of budgeting and overspending can cause debts to accumulate.
  4. High Living Costs: In cities like Vancouver, the high cost of living can strain finances.
  5. Economic Downturns: Recessions or slow economic growth can impact employment and income.
  6. Business Failures: Business failures can result in significant personal debts for entrepreneurs.

Personal Insolvency vs. Corporate Insolvency

It’s essential to understand the difference between personal and corporate insolvency:

  • Personal Insolvency: This occurs when individuals cannot pay their debts, such as credit card bills, personal loans, or mortgages. It often leads to bankruptcy or consumer proposals.
  • Corporate Insolvency: This affects businesses that cannot meet their financial obligations. It may involve restructuring through proposals or filing for bankruptcy.

Types of Insolvency Solutions

Insolvency solutions in Canada vary based on the severity of the situation and the debtor’s circumstances. The main options include:


Bankruptcy is a legal process where an individual or business declares the inability to pay off debts. A Licensed Insolvency Trustee (LIT) manages the process, which involves:

  • Asset Liquidation: Selling assets to pay off creditors.
  • Discharge of Debts: The remaining debts may be discharged after the bankruptcy terms have been fulfilled.
  • Credit Impact: Bankruptcy significantly impacts credit scores and remains on the credit report for several years.

Consumer Proposals

A consumer proposal is an alternative to bankruptcy for individuals with debts up to $250,000 (excluding the mortgage on a principal residence). It allows for:

  • Debt Negotiation: Negotiating a repayment plan with creditors, often with reduced payments.
  • Asset Protection: Assets are usually protected from liquidation.
  • Credit Impact: Less severe impact on credit scores compared to bankruptcy.

Debt Consolidation

Debt consolidation involves combining multiple debts into a single loan with a lower interest rate. This approach helps:

  • Simplify Payments: One monthly payment instead of multiple.
  • Reduce Interest Rates: Lower interest rates can save money over time.
  • Manage Debt: Easier to manage and track progress in paying off debts.

The Role of Licensed Insolvency Trustees

Licensed Insolvency Trustees (LITs) are professionals authorized to administer insolvency proceedings in Canada. Their role includes:

  • Assessing Financial Situations: Evaluating the debtor’s financial situation to determine the best course of action.
  • Providing Guidance: Offering advice on insolvency options and their implications.
  • Administering Processes: Managing the legal and administrative aspects of bankruptcy or consumer proposals.
  • Ensuring Compliance: Ensuring all legal requirements are met during the insolvency process.

Navigating the Insolvency Process

Understanding the steps involved in insolvency can make the process less daunting. Key steps include:

Initial Assessment

The first step is to assess the financial situation thoroughly. This involves:

  • Gathering Financial Information: Collecting details on income, expenses, debts, and assets.
  • Consulting a Licensed Insolvency Trustee: Seeking professional advice to understand available options.

Filing for Bankruptcy

If bankruptcy is chosen, the process involves:

  • Filing Paperwork: The LIT files the necessary documents to start the bankruptcy process.
  • Notifying Creditors: Creditors are informed about the bankruptcy.
  • Liquidating Assets: Assets are sold to repay creditors.
  • Discharge Process: Once the terms of the bankruptcy are met, debts may be discharged.

Proposing a Consumer Proposal

If a consumer proposal is more suitable, the process involves:

  • Negotiating Terms: The LIT helps negotiate a repayment plan with creditors.
  • Approval Process: Creditors vote on the proposal; if accepted, the debtor follows the agreed repayment plan.
  • Completion: After completing the terms, the proposal is fulfilled, and the remaining debts are resolved.

Impact of Insolvency on Credit Scores

Insolvency has a significant impact on credit scores. Bankruptcy and consumer proposals both affect credit, but in different ways:

  • Bankruptcy: Remains on the credit report for additional 6 years (14 years if you have had multiple bankruptcies) after you receive an Absolute Discharge from the bankruptcy, making it difficult to obtain new credit.
  • Consumer Proposal: Stays on the credit report for three years after completion, but is less severe than bankruptcy.

Rebuilding credit after insolvency takes time and effort, but it is possible with disciplined financial management.

Rebuilding After Insolvency

Recovering from insolvency requires careful planning and commitment. Key steps include:

  • Developing a Budget: Creating a realistic budget to manage expenses and avoid new debts.
  • Sticking to a Repayment Plan: Following through on any agreed repayment plans.
  • Gradually Rebuilding Credit: Using secured credit cards, paying bills on time, and maintaining low credit balances.

Preventing Insolvency in Canada

Preventing insolvency involves proactive financial management. Important measures include:

  • Financial Education: Understanding basic financial principles and managing money wisely.
  • Emergency Fund: Keeping an emergency fund to cover unexpected expenses.
  • Seeking Professional Advice: Consulting financial advisors or LITs when financial troubles arise.

Government Support and Resources

The Canadian government provides various resources to help those facing insolvency:

  • Financial Counseling: Access to free or low-cost financial counselling services.
  • Support Programs: Programs to assist with housing, employment, and other needs.
  • Legal Aid: Assistance for those who qualify to help navigate the insolvency process.

FAQs about Insolvency in Canada

What is insolvency in Canada?

Insolvency in Canada refers to the inability to meet financial obligations as debts become due. It can affect both individuals and businesses.

What is the difference between insolvency and bankruptcy?

Insolvency is a financial state where one cannot pay debts, while bankruptcy is a legal process declaring one’s inability to pay debts.

How does a consumer proposal work?

A consumer proposal allows individuals to negotiate a repayment plan with creditors, often with reduced payments and extended terms.

What are the consequences of filing for bankruptcy?

Bankruptcy can lead to the liquidation of assets, a significant impact on credit scores, and limitations on obtaining new credit.

How can I prevent insolvency?

Preventing insolvency involves maintaining good financial management, creating an emergency fund, and seeking professional advice early on.

Can insolvency affect my credit score permanently?

Insolvency impacts credit scores significantly, but with disciplined financial management and time, it is possible to rebuild credit.


Insolvency in Canada is a complex issue, but understanding its causes, processes, and solutions can help individuals and businesses navigate through financial distress. By leveraging resources like Licensed Insolvency Trustees and government support, it’s possible to find a path to financial recovery and stability.

Require Assistance?

At Crowe MacKay & Company, we have over 60 years of experience and offer free initial consultations. If you have any questions regarding the information above, contact our office today and start your debt relief journey.

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This article has been published for general information. You should always contact your trusted advisor for specific guidance pertaining to your individual needs. This publication is not a substitute for obtaining personalized advice.

If you require corporate  or personal insolvency services, Crowe MacKay & Company provides custom solutions for clients, allowing you to live debt-free.

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Common Questions about Debt Relief

Our Licensed Insolvency Trustees are experienced and qualified to answer all your questions about personal and corporate debt. From identifying imminent financial trouble to providing commercial and personal debt relief options, we are committed to educating you so you feel confident and informed. Depending on your income, the amount of debt you have, your monthly financial commitments, and your future goals, we can recommend the best way forward and assist you with all legal and documentation processes.