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Consumer bankruptcies in Kootenays still below pre-pandemic levels

The number of people declaring bankruptcy in the Kootenays remained below pre-pandemic levels last year, but according to the research wing of Selkirk College, that is not expected to continue.

Researcher Jayme Jones of Selkirk Innovates said there were 56 consumer bankruptcies in 2022 compared to 83 in 2021, 75 in 2020, and 147 in 2019. She attributed the drop to payments made available by government during COVID.

She said there are already indications the number will creep back up.

“Rising inflation is impacting Canadian households and their well-being,” she wrote, citing a survey by Statistics Canada late last year that showed many people having trouble with finances and one in four reporting they wouldn’t be able to cover unforeseen costs.

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Consumer bankruptcy is an option for people who can’t meet their financial obligations, she said, and there are many reasons why that might be, including job loss, illness or disability, major financial troubles, or changes in economic conditions.

Jones said the 2008-09 recession brought the highest number of consumer bankruptcies in the Kootenays in recent memory, with 339. With a couple of exceptions, they have been declining ever since.

“Unfortunately, consumer bankruptcies are predicted to increase as lingering effects of the pandemic, the ultra-expensive housing market, high interest rates, and inflation take their toll on the economy and individuals’ financial situations,” she said.

Jones said consumer bankruptcies are an important indicator of economic well-being.

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