Struggle is real: Albertans behind on mortgage payments

Struggle is real: Albertans behind on mortgage payments

For an increasing number of Albertans, the economic struggle is very real.

Albertans are more likely to be behind on their mortgage payments than other Canadians. Recent numbers from the Canadian Bankers Association show mortgage arrears have been on an upward trend in Alberta and currently sit at 0.49 per cent.

That number is the second highest in Canada, only behind Saskatchewan at 0.84 per cent.

For Manitoba, the number is 0.36 per cent, Ontario sits at 0.10 per cent and Quebec is at 0.28 per cent.

The association’s website shows the percentage of mortgages in arrears in Alberta has gone up in recent years.

Donna Carson, a licensed insolvency trustee with MNP Ltd., said the number of inquiries, phone calls and people coming for help at the company’s Red Deer and Calgary offices has gone up.

The increase has been consistent for the past three years, and continues today, Carson said Thursday.

She pointed to unemployment as the main reason.

Carson says people are trying to keep their homes and catch up on their mortgage payments, but not everyone is succeeding.

“The most common dilemma with their budgets is ‘I’m back at work doing something, but my hourly rate isn’t the same as it used to be,’ or ‘my shifts aren’t the same as they used to be,’” she explained.

“Or, some people even left the work they were doing after they got laid off, so now they’re working in a different field altogether, so the paycheques aren’t quite the same.”

Separation and divorce are also a cause for unhealthy financial situations for some people, said Carson.

“From my experience, probably on average, about a third of the people we talk to have said some type of relationship breakdown is part of the cause of ‘where I’m at today,’” she explained.

According to the most recent statistics from the Office of the Superintendent of Bankruptcy Canada, at the end of June in Alberta, insolvencies were 12 per cent higher than last year, said Carson.

The figure for the Red Deer area is up 15 per cent compared to 2017-18.

Asked why the Red Deer area figures were higher than the province’s as a whole, Carson explained the region has more oilfield-related jobs, which have been impacted by the economic downturn.

“I don’t know the specific reason, but that’s probably part of it,” she said.

“Another example: Fort McMurray insolvencies have been busier as well and their year-to-year increase is 27 per cent.”

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