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Soaring prices are plunging families in Sault Ste. Marie into debt

Licensed Insolvency Trustee Maria Rickard can help lift their financial burden without having to declare bankruptcy

High prices, especially in the grocery stores, are forcing many people to pull out their credit card to pay for everyday items. Add the cost of inflation to rising interest rates and it’s not surprising that many people are sinking deeply into debt. Some may feel hopeless, but licensed insolvency trustee Maria Rickard says she and her associates can help. “We’re here to offer people who are struggling financially, information and support. They may be robbing Peter to pay Paul and can’t make ends meet, but we are here to help.” Most people don’t know a thing about insolvency and what options are available in Canada to deal with debt. 

Getting creditors off your back 

Bankruptcy is not the only option. An alternative under Canada’s Bankruptcy and Insolvency Act is to file a Consumer Proposal which is a debt settlement offer you make to your creditors.  

Under a Consumer Proposal, if you can’t afford to pay creditors everything you owe them, debtors can offer a percentage of their debt. Rickard says, “If the creditors agree to the proposal, then you make one payment a month and the creditors share the funds. Once the person owing the debt completes the proposal, the contract is fulfilled, and the rest of the debt is wiped out.”  

Rickard adds, “It’s a great option for someone who has debt but does not want to declare bankruptcy.” They may be bonded or a professional whose job would be impacted by a bankruptcy. It could also be that they want to pay their creditors, but they don’t want to lose their assets. If they have a high income, a payment under bankruptcy would be high as well.  

Insolvencies are expected to rise  

During the pandemic, government support and access to increasing equity in their home allowed many people to pay off their bills. But with interest rates rising, credit card debt is more costly. Minimum payments will only make matters worse. Rickard anticipates that mortgage re-financing will add to the debt burden as well. “As people begin to refinance, and then suddenly, that $1,000 monthly payment becomes $1500, it could put many people deeper into debt.”  

Lifting the debt burden 

Maria Rickard wants people to know that there is no shame in having debt problems or even in declaring bankruptcy. “Because bankruptcy doesn’t have the same stigma that it had years ago. It has now become part of the economy and part of doing business.” 

With the proliferation of pay day loans and easy access to credit, spending can easily get out of control. But Canada’s bankruptcy system offers a safety net. Rickard says, “It’s meant to give that unfortunate person who is over-burdened with debt the opportunity to start fresh without the debts of the past. It’s meant as a rehabilitative tool so they can become solvent members of the credit community again. It’s not meant as punishment.” 

Re-establishing credit after being discharged from bankruptcy is not difficult, Rickard points out, “Even while you’re in a proposal, if you wanted to apply for a credit card or need a new vehicle, you can still do that because it’s new debt.” As soon as you’re discharged from bankruptcy you can apply for a secured credit card to help you re-establish your credit. 

Debt counselling can be life-changing 

Because the government has made insolvency debt counselling mandatory, individuals must learn how to budget and save money. Rickard says, “By learning from your mistakes and learning how to handle money better going forward, you will not only be debt free but also better educated to ensure that you don’t get into that predicament again.”  

The rewards Maria Rickard gets from helping others get out of debt are immeasurable. Clients tell her all the time that she has changed their lives for the better. “I had a client who was bringing her father in for debt counselling. She thanked me because she learned so much after doing the consumer proposal. Any credit card debt she has now is paid off at the end of the month.” She also has money in an emergency fund. Another client now has money set aside. He and his fiancé are buying their first home.  

Maria Rickard and her associates in Sault Ste. Marie are caring and supportive. They do not judge, but rather treat every client with respect, compassion, and dignity. Rickard says, “You never know what life is going to throw at you. By the grace of God, any one of us could be in a financially strained situation.” Rickard and her team have over 60 years of combined experience. They will provide the support to allow the client to make the decision that is right for them.  

Maria Rickard or one of her associates would be happy to speak with you. Contact Maria Rickard & Associates at: (705) 942-1069 or email: [email protected]