Navigating A Consumer Proposal In Canada

If you’re a Canadian citizen grappling with unmanageable debt, a consumer proposal could be a viable solution. This legal agreement, designed to provide relief to those drowning in financial obligations, can be a life-saver. But it’s not a decision to be taken lightly. This article will serve as a comprehensive guide on Navigating a Consumer Proposal in Canada.

Understanding the Concept of a Consumer Proposal

A consumer proposal is a formal, legally binding process that you initiate with your creditors when you can’t pay off your debts in full. This agreement, typically orchestrated by a Licensed Insolvency Trustee (LIT), aims to repay a portion of your total debt within a specific time frame, usually up to five years.

How Does a Consumer Proposal Work?

In a consumer proposal, you propose to pay creditors a percentage of what you owe or extend the time you have to pay off the debts, or both. The key advantage is that you retain control of your assets while ensuring your creditors receive some payment.

Who Can File a Consumer Proposal?

You are eligible to file a consumer proposal in Canada if you owe less than $250,000 (excluding mortgage on your primary residence). For couples with shared debt, the limit is $500,000. You must also have a stable, regular income and have no prior consumer proposals in your record.

Types of Debts Covered

A consumer proposal primarily covers unsecured debts such as:

  • Credit card debt
  • Bank loans
  • Personal loans
  • Payday loans
  • Tax debt
  • Medical bills
  • Some student loans
  • Overdrafts
  • Outstanding bills
  • Accounts in collections

Secured debts such as mortgages, vehicle loans, home equity loans, and Home Equity Lines of Credit (HELOCs) are not covered.

Impact of a Consumer Proposal on Credit Score

One key consideration when navigating a consumer proposal in Canada is its impact on your credit score. Filing a consumer proposal will lower your credit score to an R7 rating, which indicates a completed proposal for debt settlement. This can make securing new credit a challenge for the duration of the proposal.

The Process of Filing a Consumer Proposal

Filing a consumer proposal involves several steps:

1. Consultation with a Licensed Insolvency Trustee (LIT)

Your journey begins by consulting with an LIT, a professional licensed by the federal government to help Canadians in financial distress.

2. Evaluation of Alternatives

After discussing your financial situation with the LIT, it’s crucial to evaluate all alternatives before committing to a consumer proposal.

3. Proposal Preparation and Documentation

Once you decide to proceed with a consumer proposal, you and your LIT will prepare the necessary documentation outlining the terms of your proposal.

4. Filing the Proposal

The LIT files the proposal on your behalf. Once filed, creditors cannot take legal action against you or harass you for payment.

5. Acceptance or Rejection by Creditors

Creditors review your proposal and vote to accept or reject it. If the majority (in dollar value) vote to accept, the proposal becomes binding on all creditors.

6. Credit Counselling

You will need to attend two credit counselling sessions to help you manage your finances better in the future.

7. Completion and Certificate of Full Performance

Upon making your final payment, you receive a Certificate of Full Performance, marking the completion of your consumer proposal.

Consumer Proposal vs. Other Debt Solutions

When navigating a consumer proposal in Canada, it’s essential to compare it with other debt relief options like bankruptcy.

Pros and Cons of Filing a Consumer Proposal

A consumer proposal comes with several benefits, including reducing your total debt, freezing interest on qualifying debts, and stopping calls from collection agencies. However, it also has downsides, like affecting your credit report and potentially impacting your professional or employment opportunities.

Bankruptcy: An Alternative to Consider

Bankruptcy is another legal process to eliminate unmanageable debt. While it offers a fresh start, it stays on your credit report for longer, requires monthly income reporting, and affects your assets more than a consumer proposal.

Other Alternatives to Explore

Before deciding on a consumer proposal, explore other avenues such as credit counselling, debt consolidation loans, and DIY budgeting. Each alternative has its advantages and drawbacks, so it’s vital to choose what fits your financial situation best.

Final Thoughts: Making an Informed Decision

While a consumer proposal can offer a lifeline to those in severe debt, it’s a decision that should be made after careful consideration. With this guide, we hope you’re better equipped to navigate a consumer proposal in Canada. Remember, it’s always wise to consult with a financial advisor or licensed professional before making such significant decisions.

Frequently Asked Questions

  1. What happens to my credit score when I file a consumer proposal? Filing a consumer proposal will lower your credit score to an R7 rating, which can hinder your ability to secure new credit for the duration of the proposal.
  2. Can I pay off my consumer proposal early? Yes, you can pay off your consumer proposal early without any penalties. Doing this can also help to restore your credit faster.
  3. What happens if I can’t make the payments on my consumer proposal? If you miss three consecutive payments or if your payments are more than three months late, your consumer proposal could be annulled. This means your creditors could take legal action to collect the money you owe them.
  4. Can I file a joint consumer proposal with my spouse? Yes, couples who have jointly accumulated debt can file a joint consumer proposal. The debt limit in this case is $500,000.
  5. What types of debts are not covered by a consumer proposal? Secured debts such as mortgages, vehicle loans, home equity loans, and Home Equity Lines of Credit (HELOCs) are not covered by a consumer proposal.

Find Your Personal Debt Relief Solution

Licensed Insolvency Trustees are here to help. Get a free assessment of your options.

Discuss options to get out of debt with a trained & licensed debt relief professional.