Understanding the Consumer Proposal Process in Canada

Navigating the Consumer Proposal Pathway: A Comprehensive Guide for Canadian Debtors

Understanding the Consumer Proposal Process in CanadaFacing mounting debt can be a daunting and overwhelming experience for many Canadians. However, there is an alternative to the traditional bankruptcy process that offers a glimmer of hope – the consumer proposal. This formal agreement between a debtor and their creditors allows individuals to renegotiate and settle their debts without the harsh consequences of filing for bankruptcy. In this comprehensive guide, we will delve into the intricacies of the consumer proposal process, exploring its benefits, the step-by-step procedure, and the key considerations that debtors should keep in mind.

Understanding the Consumer Proposal

A consumer proposal is a legally binding agreement that enables individuals struggling with debt to negotiate a more manageable repayment plan with their creditors. Unlike bankruptcy, which involves liquidating assets and completely eliminating debt, a consumer proposal allows debtors to retain their assets, such as their home or car, while repaying a portion of what they owe over a period of up to five years. This approach provides a more flexible and personalized solution, tailored to the debtor’s unique financial situation.

The Benefits of a Consumer Proposal

One of the primary advantages of a consumer proposal is the protection it offers from creditors. Once the proposal is filed, creditors are legally required to cease all collection and legal activities against the debtor, providing much-needed relief and a chance to regain financial stability. Additionally, the interest-free repayment plan and the ability to protect valuable assets make the consumer proposal an attractive alternative to bankruptcy.

Understanding the Drawbacks

While a consumer proposal offers numerous benefits, it is essential to be aware of its potential drawbacks. The most significant downside is the permanent public record that is created, which can negatively impact the debtor’s credit score and make it more challenging to obtain credit in the future. Additionally, the consumer proposal process requires the debtor to attend mandatory financial counselling sessions, which can be time-consuming and burdensome.

The Consumer Proposal Process: A Step-by-Step Guide

Navigating the consumer proposal process can seem daunting, but with the right guidance and understanding, debtors can successfully navigate this alternative to bankruptcy. Let’s explore the key steps involved in the process:

Step 1: Selecting a Licensed Insolvency Trustee

The first step in the consumer proposal process is to consult with a Licensed Insolvency Trustee (LIT). These professionals are licensed by the federal government to administer and manage the consumer proposal process. The LIT will assess the debtor’s financial situation, determine if a consumer proposal is the best option, and guide them through the entire process.

Step 2: Debt Assessment

During the debt assessment phase, the LIT will work with the debtor to gather information about their current debts and creditors. This includes the total amount owed, the interest rates, and the repayment terms. The LIT will also ask about the debtor’s income, which will help determine a reasonable monthly payment plan.

Step 3: Proposal Preparation

Once the debt assessment is complete, the LIT will prepare a formal proposal that outlines the debtor’s offer to their creditors. This proposal will include the total amount the debtor is willing to repay, the monthly payment amount, and the timeline for repayment (up to five years).

Step 4: Filing the Consumer Proposal

The LIT will then file the consumer proposal with the federal government and the court on the debtor’s behalf. This filing triggers the “stay of proceedings,” which means that creditors must cease all collection and legal activities against the debtor.

Step 5: Creditor Voting

After the proposal is filed, creditors have the right to request a meeting to ask questions and provide feedback. The LIT will attend this meeting with the debtor and act as an intermediary to negotiate on the debtor’s behalf. If the majority of creditors vote in favor of the proposal, it is considered accepted, even if some creditors voted against it.

Step 6: Implementation and Completion

Once the consumer proposal is accepted, the debtor will begin making the agreed-upon monthly payments. During this time, the debtor is also required to attend at least two financial counselling sessions. Upon successful completion of the repayment plan, the debtor will receive a certificate confirming the discharge of the debts covered by the proposal.

Navigating the Provincial Variations

It’s important to note that the consumer proposal process may vary slightly depending on the province or territory in which the debtor resides. While the core steps outlined above are consistent across Canada, there may be some nuances in the specific requirements or procedures. Debtors should consult with their LIT to ensure they understand the local regulations and guidelines that apply to their situation.

Seeking Professional Guidance

Navigating the complexities of the consumer proposal process can be daunting, but with the right professional guidance, debtors can successfully navigate this alternative to bankruptcy. Licensed Insolvency Trustees are the experts in this field and can provide invaluable support throughout the entire process. By working closely with an LIT, debtors can make informed decisions, maximize the benefits of the consumer proposal, and take the first steps towards regaining their financial stability.


The consumer proposal offers a viable alternative for Canadians struggling with overwhelming debt. By renegotiating their debts and repaying a portion of what they owe, debtors can avoid the harsh consequences of bankruptcy while protecting their assets and credit score. However, it’s crucial to understand the process, the benefits, and the potential drawbacks before embarking on this journey. With the guidance of a Licensed Insolvency Trustee, debtors can navigate the consumer proposal pathway and regain control of their financial future.

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