When debt repayment becomes unmanageable, one of
the unfortunate options is to declare personal bankruptcy.
Thankfully, the number of people having to file has been
falling since the peak of the 2009 downturn.
In April there were 523 personal bankruptcies in Alberta,
down from 568 in the previous month. The level of
personal bankruptcies has been stable in recent months
but has trended downward slightly over the last two years.
Total personal bankruptcies over the past 12 months
ending April 30, 2012, were down 15.4 per cent compared
to total bankruptcies over the previous 12 months.
Statistics on personal bankruptcies—also known as
consumer bankruptcies—are tracked by the Office of the
Superintendent of Bankruptcy, which is a federal
government agency of Industry Canada. The agency also
tracked business bankruptcies, which are down 23.6 per
cent compared to the previous 12 months.
Tracking the number of personal and business
bankruptcies is another helpful measure of the
general health of our provincial economy. Currently,
Alberta’s strong labour market and rising wages helps
households manage debt levels. Business
bankruptcies are lower because of healthy books and
sales when the economy is growing.
But another major factor preventing personal or
business bankruptcies is the environment of low
interest rates. Borrowing rates are at near-record lows,
helping households and businesses manage debt
levels — and given the fragile global economy
interest rates are almost certain to remain low. This,
along with Alberta’s healthy economy, suggests
bankruptcies are unlikely to spike higher anytime this year.