CONSUMER | Regional Anomalies in Canada's National Consumer Insolvency & Bankruptcy Rates.

AuthorMacneill, Mark

Data on consumer insolvency and bankruptcy, as well as laws on personal property exemptions, show great variances between regions, provinces and territories.

Insolvency is a person's inability to pay the debts they owe on time. Bankruptcy is one legal procedure for dealing with insolvency. Other options include debt consolidation, consumer proposals and more.

In 2019, New Brunswick, Nova Scotia and Newfoundland had Canada's highest insolvency rates at 8.0, 7.8 and 7.6 people per 1000, respectively. The national average for insolvency in 2019 was 4.6 people per 1000. In contrast, British Columbia was at 2.8 people per 1000, followed by Manitoba at 3.2 per 1000. Let's look closer at these regional anomalies.

Low Rates in Canada's Northern Territories

Canada's three northern territories--with adverse weather, harsh climate and terrain, remoteness and higher living costs--have amazingly lower insolvency rates than most of Canada:

* Yukon at 2.3 per 1000,

* the Northwest Territories (N.W.T.) at 1.1 per 1000, and

* Nunavut at 0.2 per 1000 population.

Furthermore, their respective bankruptcy rates are 0.3, 0.4 and zero, all per 1000 people.

In Nunavut (an Inuit Land Claims settlement and governance region), the 2016 Canada census reports that 85.9% of the population is Inuit and 85% of housing is public housing. This data indicates an entirely different economic structure versus non-Indigenous communities, where housing is privately financed. As well, employment in the North includes traditional and seasonal work. This work does not always fit with institutional lending and financial practices of colonial systems. Such practices are often incompatible with Inuit culture, governance and land ownership systems.

The N.W.T. and the Yukon have different demographic and culture profiles both from Nunavut and from the rest of Canada. Per the 2016 Census, the N.W.T. and the Yukon are inhabited by 50.7% and 23.3% Aboriginal peoples, respectively. The N.W.T and Yukon Indigenous populations are comprised primarily of First Nation and Metis, with Inuit as a minority. This is compared to Nunavut's population being predominantly Inuit, at 85.9% of the total population.

When it comes to Aboriginal governance and title in the three territories, a communal land ownership system is in place where Indigenous land claims and self-governance exist, particularly in Nunavut and the N.W.T. Title is typically held by either the Crown or an Aboriginal government, and...

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