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Nova Scotia Household Debt

If you’re feeling less than optimistic about your financial future, you’re not alone. Recent data from the Angus Reid Institute found that Canadians feel pessimistic about their finances, with nearly half of those surveyed (49%) saying they feel financially worse off now than they did a year ago. When asked to think toward the future, 35% of Canadians said they anticipate being in a worse financial position in another 12 months. 

What is the cause of this pessimism? A combination of high-interest rates, the rising cost of living, and increasing debt. Keep reading to see how Nova Scotians are dealing with the current economic environment, and how Nova Scotia household debt compares to the rest of the country. 

The State of Canadian Consumer Debt 

Canadian consumer debt reached $2.4 trillion in Q2 of 2023, according to recent statistics from Equifax. This is an increase of $80.9 billion from the previous year. Mortgage debt increased by 1.7%, while non-mortgage debt was slightly lower at 1.2% 

What is causing Canadian debt to rise? 

It’s a combination of high-interest rates and a rising cost of living. More Canadians are turning to their credit cards to make ends meet.   

The State of Nova Scotia Household Debt

The average household debt in Nova Scotia is $20,613, slightly lower than the national average of $21,131. While average debt has decreased by .43% year over year, delinquency rates have increased by 1.43% to over 25%. Delinquency rates represent the amount of debt that is overdue. Delinquent debt is more likely to end up in default.  

Nova Scotia Consumer Price Index (CPI)

The Consumer Price Index (CPI) represents the change in consumer prices and is an indicator of the state of inflation. It compares the price of a fixed basket of goods and services over time. Recent debt statistics from the Nova Scotia CPI show an increase of 2.5% in consumer prices in November 2023 versus November 2022.4 Halifax saw an increase of 3.1% year over year. The national average rate of inflation was also 3.1%. 

When food prices and energy prices were excluded, the province saw an increase of 3.7%, slightly higher than the national average of 3.5%. 

The items contributing the most to the increase include:

  • Rent
  • Mortgage interest costs
  • Travel tours
  • Restaurant food
  • Electricity

The items that have dropped the most include: 

  • Fuel oil
  • Phone services
  • Gas prices
  • Recreation equipment and services
  • Furniture
  • Inter-city transportation 

House Prices 

For the first time in years, the cost of housing in Nova Scotia is decreasing. This is thanks to a slowing housing market. What is causing the slowdown? More money is going towards the cost of food, fuel, and other daily costs of living, leaving less money in the budget to consider purchasing a home.

According to the Canadian Real Estate Association (CREA), in November 2023, home sales were 17% below the five-year average and 3.5% below the 10-year average. The average cost of a single-family home in November 2023 was $381, 800, up 5% year over year. The average price for a townhouse was $507,800, up just over 10%, and the average price of an apartment was $455,000, up almost 14% from the previous year. 

Bankruptcies and Insolvencies in Nova Scotia

Nationally, consumer Bankruptcies increased only slightly year over year at .8%. Consumer Proposals rose by nearly 29%. 

In Nova Scotia, Bankruptcies decreased by 2.5% while Consumer Proposals increased by nearly 45%, year over year.

Across Canada, business Bankruptcies increased by just over 34% and Consumer Proposals increased by nearly 47%, year over year. 

In Nova Scotia, business Bankruptcies rose by nearly 63%, and Consumer Proposals by 56%. 

What is Contributing to Nova Scotia Household Debt?

There are several factors contributing to rising Nova Scotia household debt, and across the country, including: 

High interest rates

Thanks to higher interest rates, it costs more money to borrow money and to pay off debt. For this reason, the demand for credit is slowing and minimum monthly payments are increasing. 

According to recent data from Statistics Canada, the debt service ratio rose to 9.26% in Q3 of 2023, up from 7.16 the previous year. This means, Canadians are spending over 9% of their disposable income just on interest payments, including mortgage interest payments and non-mortgage debts.  

Higher cost of living

According to the Nova Scotia CPI, the overall cost of purchasing goods and services has increased by 2.5% since last year. This means that today it is more expensive to pay for everything from food to rent and travel than it was the previous year.  

Low wages

The median hourly wage in Nova Scotia is $23.08, the second lowest in the country after PEI at $23.07.9

An annual report published by the Canadian Centre for Policy Alternatives (CCPA) suggests that this hourly wage isn’t enough to cover the cost of living in much of the province.10 For instance, the living wage rates for 2023 include:

  • $25.40 for Annapolis Valley
  • $22.85 for Cape Breton 
  • $26.50 for Halifax
  • $24,30 for Northern region 
  • $25.05 for Southern region

How to Deal With Household Debt

If your household debt feels unmanageable and you’re no longer able to cover your bills, consider speaking to a Licensed Insolvency Trustee (LIT). An LIT can assess your debt situation and recommend a strategy to help you get out of debt, including:

Credit counselling

In a credit counselling session, an LIT can teach you about budgeting or provide tips for how to manage your credit. Your LIT can also work with you to understand the root cause of your debt so you can avoid similar issues in the future. 

Consumer Proposal

A Consumer Proposal is a debt solution that can only be administered by an LIT. In a Proposal you work with your LIT to create an offer to pay your creditors a percentage of what you owe, extend the time you have to pay, or both. You have a maximum of five years to complete the terms of your Proposal. 

Bankruptcy  

While Bankruptcy is typically the last resort, it is not meant to punish. The purpose of Bankruptcy is to provide honest Canadians who are down on their luck with a second chance. In Bankruptcy, your LIT will sell many of your assets. In exchange, you are discharged from many of your unsecured debts. An LIT is the only professional who can administer a Bankruptcy in Canada. 

Talk to a Licensed Insolvency Trustee

If you feel your household spending is out of control, or you’ve accumulated a mountain of personal debt, we invite you to speak with an LIT at Allan Marshall & Associates. There’s no need to try and navigate your debt alone. We Can Help.™

Our debt experts can assess your debt situation and recommend a path forward. It is possible to get out of debt, and we can help. Give us a call at 1-888-371-8900 or contact us online. If you live in Nova Scotia, you can also visit us in person at one of our offices in Halifax, Bridgewater, Truro, and Dartmouth

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Mary-Ann Marriott

Mary Ann has been working in the insolvency industry for 25 years. In 2005 Mary Ann received her Chartered Insolvency & Restructuring Professional (CIRP) designation and attained her license as a Licensed Insolvency Trustee (LIT) in 2014. She is passionate about helping others become financially literate, and has been a guest speaker to various groups and organizations on the topic of Money Management. Mary-Ann also hosts a weekly radio show, as a volunteer in her community. Her tagline is “Helping you have happier, healthier finances”.