Thursday, 6 September 2012

Debt Relief in Canada Blog Series Part 1 – Is a Consumer Proposal the Answer?

Debt relief in Canada is a subject that is constantly in the news for many reasons, whether it is the government reporting on the fact that Canadians are carrying historically high levels of debt, reporting on debt reduction companies and what to watch out for, reporting on changes to CMHC lending guidelines to stop those who are loaded with debt from buying homes that they really can’t afford, and more… 

Unfortunately, most people who have too much debt don’t realize that they have a problem until managing minimum payments starts to become challenging, resulting in a debt problem turning into a debt emergency. There are many options for debt relief in Canada, but each one is different, and the right one for you will really depend on your own personal circumstances.

Making a consumer proposal is one option for debt relief in Canada, but the question is: is a consumer proposal the answer?

A consumer proposal is a type of proposal that is made to your creditors and is administered by a bankruptcy trustee who represents both you and the creditors that are included in your consumer proposal. Consumer proposals are crafted based on your ability to repay your debt realistically. Consumer proposals are repaid monthly, usually over a period of 3-4 years. With that being said, a consumer proposal can be paid off sooner if your financial situation changes. Consumer proposals are removed from your Equifax credit report 3 years from the date that they are paid in full, which provides a further incentive for those who are in a consumer proposal to pay it off early. Because consumer proposals allow you to make a single monthly payment that fits within your budget and enables you to rebuild your credit faster, consumer proposals are a very popular option for debt relief in Canada.

Since consumer proposals are based on your ability to make a monthly payment and not on your total debt load, oftentimes consumers can reduce their overall debt through a consumer proposal. In a simple, very general example, if your total unsecured debt is $20000 and you can afford to pay $200 per/month for 5 years based on your budget and the consumer proposal guidelines, the total value of the consumer proposal would be $12000, meaning you would reduce your debt by $8000. Each case is different, and your consumer proposal must be fair to your creditors as they have a say as to whether or not they will accept it.

When you make a consumer proposal, your creditors will receive your consumer proposal by mail and have 45 days to respond and vote as to whether they accept or reject your proposal. If a creditor does not respond to the consumer proposal within 45 days, they lose the ability to vote and the proposal is considered accepted. In addition, if the majority of your creditors accept the consumer proposal, it will be approved.

Consumer proposals are suited to individuals who have higher incomes, as they are subject to surplus income in bankruptcy.  When a consumer has surplus income his or her payment in bankruptcy will be much higher and this is what makes a consumer proposal a more attractive option for a higher income earner. Consumer proposals are also better suited to an individual who has some secured creditors and to someone who has the ability to repay a good portion of his or her debt but simply cannot manage the contractual payments that they currently have with creditors.

For more information about options for debt relief in Canada or to see if you qualify for a consumer proposal please call DebtCare at 416-903-4000 or visit


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