Ontario Bankruptcy and Consumer Proposal Statistics

Ontarians continue to carry record levels of personal debt and for many residents, a consumer proposal or a personal bankruptcy becomes the only way out of financial trouble.

We update this page for monthly data trends as they are released by the Office of the Superintendent of Ontario.

Below you will also find commentary on the most recent annual consumer proposal and bankruptcy statistics by region for 2018.

Monthly Trends 2019 Ontario Consumer Insolvency Filings

These statistics are updated monthly based on data released by The Office of the Superintendent of Bankruptcy.  The OSB data is released at the end of the month and is generally two months in arrears.

Year over year consumer insolvencies in Ontario increased 7.3% in March compared to the same month last year.  While the pace of growth has slowed slightly, this is the 6th consecutive month year-over-year insolvencies have increased in Ontario and the highest March over March increase since 2009.  March growth was led by consumer proposals, up 17.8% annually while bankruptcies declined 9.8%.

Hover over the bars to see the most recent consumer insolvency numbers for Ontario.

Ontario consumer insolvencies are  growing at a 3-month moving average pace of 9.9%. 

In 2018, almost 62.3% of Ontario insolvency filings were proposals. In March 2019, 67.8% of all insolvency filings were proposals, much higher than the 61.7% reported in March 2018.  Sustained household earnings in a low employment environment, combined with high levels of consumer debt, make consumer proposals the debt relief of choice for insolvent debtors. High income that results in additional surplus income payments in a bankruptcy, and home equity, are the two primary reasons why heavily indebted consumers are increasingly choosing a proposal over bankruptcy.

We believe high household debt and rising interest rates will drive up consumer insolvencies in 2019. After 8 years of declines, 2018 insolvencies rose 1.8%.  The 3-month moving average rate of growth in March was 9.9%.  We predict that consumer insolvencies will increase by a minimum of 2-5% in 2019.  We would not be surprised to see increases of as much as 8% if credit tightens, housing prices slow or interest rates rise further.  Even this rate of growth would still see total insolvencies well below the peak in 2009. 

Ontarians are burdened by too much personal debt, and their individual ability to manage that debt is now being impacted by rising interest rates, changing home equity and individual factors that affect their ability to maintain their interest payments and access further credit.

A prolonged period of low interest rates and rising home equity have combined to help most Ontarians keep ahead of their debt payments. This has led to a prolonged decline in consumer insolvencies in the province to date.

Higher overall debt levels, however, remain a concern, and a change for the worse in any of these economic conditions will lead to increased loan default and, ultimately, higher insolvency rates.

Low interest rates and strong employment have helped restrain consumer insolvencies in Ontario over the past year. As housing prices have increased, the attractiveness of debt consolidation over insolvency as a debt restructuring mechanism has helped temper the growth in Ontario consumer insolvencies despite record debt levels. However, even a small negative change in economic conditions could trigger a shift towards a stronger growth trend for consumer insolvencies in Ontario as we saw happen in several western provinces in Canada in 2016.

Consumer Insolvency Statistics Ontario 2018

Total insolvencies filed by Ontario consumers rose 1.8% in 2018 according to data released by the Office of the Superintendent of Bankruptcy.

To see insolvency statistics, consumer debt and debt-to-income ratio by city & region across Ontario, see our Interactive Consumer Debt and Bankruptcy Statistics Map

In total, 38,856 hard working individuals filed insolvency in Ontario in 2018.

Personal bankruptcies fell 4.4%  while consumer proposals increased 6.0%.

In 2018, 62% of consumer insolvencies filed in Ontario were consumer proposals.  Heavily indebted consumers with high income and high asset values turn to a consumer proposal as a way to avoid high surplus income payments in a bankruptcy and keep their home. In 2018, homeowners were not a significant driver of consumer proposals as seen by the decline in our Homeowner’s Bankruptcy Index. Instead, indebted homeowners have relied on their home equity to refinance their credit card and other debt through a second mortgage, HELOC or debt consolidation loan.

The increase in proposals in 2018 is more a reflection of strong employment conditions in Ontario. Insolvent debtors with a household income above the government mandated thresholds limits are more likely to choose a consumer proposal as an alternative to bankruptcy in order to spread potential surplus income payments over a period of up to five years.

Below is a summary on insolvencies by geographic region as summarized by Hoyes Michalos based on insolvency statistics by FSA provided by the Office of the Superintendent of Bankruptcy (OSB). Regional FSA allocations may differ slightly from annual economic region data provided by the OSB as the regional data summarized by Hoyes Michalos provides additional location details than is available by economic region.

You can also see this information in an interactive consumer debt map which shows total insolvencies, average consumer debt levels, and unsecured debt-to-income by region.

REGION*

Consumer Insolvencies Total Growth Growth Bankruptcy Growth Proposal % Proposals
Canada 125,266 2.5% -5.0% 9.3% 56%
Ontario 38,856 1.8% -4.4% 6.0% 62%
           

REGION*

         
Barrie Region 1,708 0% -6% 4% 63%
Belleville Region 771 -6% -14% -2% 66%
Brampton 1,770 2% -2% 4% 71%
Brantford Region 660 11% -2% 19% 66%
Brockville Region 548 1% -12% 19% 50%
Cambridge 464 5% -13% 19% 66%
Chatham Region 416 4% 3% 5% 54%
City of Toronto 2,220 -1% -13% 6% 65%
Cornwall Region 482 5% -8% 20% 54%
Essex-Leamington Region 234 -16% 3% -30% 48%
Etobicoke 1,076 -1% -6% 3% 65%
Guelph 391 16% 38% 1% 50%
Hamilton Region 1,633 5% 4% 5% 61%
Huron Region 401 3% 1% 5% 48%
Kingston Region 550 10% 16% 4% 52%
KW-Wellington Region 1,246 13% -2% 24% 64%
London Region 2,112 1% -5% 5% 61%
Markham 591 25% -9% 41% 76%
Mississauga 1,817 -2% -11% 2% 69%
Newmarket & Area 680 8% -4% 16% 64%
Niagara Region 1,314 1% 1% 1% 60%
North Bay Region 539 7% -7% 20% 60%
North York 2,508 -7% -15% -3% 71%
Burlington-Oakville Region 984 0% -11% 7% 68%
Orangeville & Area 306 10% 0% 15% 66%
Oshawa-Bowmanville Region 1,232 10% 1% 15% 66%
Ottawa Region 3,134 2% -5% 9% 55%
Parry Sound-Huntsville Region 398 -2% -20% 10% 67%
Pembroke Region 336 0% 11% -10% 47%
Peterborough Region 715 2% 1% 4% 61%
Pickering 541 8% -12% 17% 73%
Richmond Hill 391 4% 3% 5% 63%
Sarnia Region 363 5% 15% -4% 49%
Sault Ste. Marie Region 414 -3% -8% 11% 34%
Scarborough 1,901 0% -8% 4% 71%
Stratford Region 159 10% -1% 19% 58%
Sudbury Region 1,112 -2% -3% -1% 58%
Thunder Bay Region 544 8% 15% -1% 40%
Timmins Region 514 1% -10% 9% 61%
Vaughan 357 -9% -21% -3% 69%
Windsor Region 981 0% 6% -5 54%
Woodstock Region 303 -1% -17% 12% 62%
*Region includes surrounding rural areas

Who files insolvency in Ontario?

The average insolvent debtor looks much like the average person in Ontario. They are working and struggling to make ends meet. To read more about the what the average bankrupt looks like, see our bankruptcy research study: Joe Debtor.

Press Inquiries

For commentary and information about consumer insolvencies and debt issues in Ontario, contact:

J. Douglas Hoyes
CA, CPA, Licensed Insolvency Trustee
Email Doug

Ted Michalos
CA, CPA, Licensed Insolvency Trustee
Email Ted