Seniors Carry Most Unsecured Debt in Canada

By Andrew Rickard | May 07 2015 10:40AM

Of all age groups, seniors are the most likely to have unsecured debts, and they are also the ones who are most likely to rely on payday loans.

photo_web_302A study conducted by bankruptcy trustee Hoyes, Michalos & Associates has found that Canadians age 60 and over hold, on average, total unsecured debts of more than $69,000, and almost half of that debt is credit card debt. Seniors also have the highest amount of payday loans of all demographic groups, owing an average of $3,693.

Single parents were also heavily indebted. The survey revealed that nearly one in five insolvent debtors are lone parents, and that three quarters of the lone parents who become insolvent are female. Although single parents tend to carry less credit card debt than the average, the report shows that they struggle with fixed repayment debt (such as car loans and student loans), and they are more likely to have debt in collections.

Student debts also weigh heavily on Canadians, with 13% of debtors holding student loans. The study suggests that female student debtors are more likely to file for bankruptcy, and that on average they owe $14,748 in student loans at the time of filing, which is 19% more than males.

"Struggling Canadians are susceptible to poor credit choices and these choices are increasing their risk of filing bankruptcy," comments Ted Michalos, a trustee with Hoyes, Michalos & Associates. "While credit card debt declined sharply, payday loans and ‘fast cash’ loans are an increasing problem, particularly for seniors; and student loan repayment remains an issue, especially for women."