Being in debt is stressful, and it affects thousands of Canadians every year. Many debt relief solutions claim to solve debt problems, but is there a Canadian government debt relief program?

While the Canadian government doesn’t directly offer debt relief, there is a government-approved debt relief program called a consumer proposal.

This helpful guide shows you how the program works and what alternatives are available to those struggling with debt.

Is there a government debt relief program in Canada?

A consumer proposal is the only government-approved debt relief program in Canada. It is a government-regulated legal process under the Bankruptcy and Insolvency Act. This legislation protects your rights and obligations if you file a consumer proposal or personal bankruptcy.

A consumer proposal lets you reduce your debt by up to 80%

When you enter a consumer proposal, you agree to pay back some of your debt to your creditors. After you make all your payments, the remaining balance owed from the debts in your consumer proposal is forgiven.

A consumer proposal can often be cheaper than other debt solutions (use our consumer proposal calculator to find out). You can restructure your unsecured debt into one lower monthly payment.

Consumer proposal cost

Interest on your debts will be frozen, collection calls will stop, and wage garnishments will end. You will not lose your home, vehicle, or RRSP.

Unsecured debt, like credit card debt, loans, and tax debts can be included in a consumer proposal. Even some student loans can be included.

You can include tax debt in a consumer proposal.

Only a licensed and regulated professional, a Licensed Insolvency Trustee, can administer a consumer proposal. This makes it a safe option to resolve your debts.

The Office of the Superintendent of Bankruptcy (OSB) regulates the service, and the federal government governs fees.

Good to know: You cannot get a Government of Canada debt relief grant. There’s no such thing as Canadian government grants that you never repay.

Are all debt relief options legitimate?

Many predatory websites advertise government debt relief programs. If any company asks you to pay money upfront for a consumer proposal or bankruptcy, don’t do it.

Only a Licensed Insolvency Trustee can administer a consumer proposal or bankruptcy. Other companies take your money and pass you on to a trustee.

Through our trusted network of Licensed Insolvency Trustees, we can connect you for a free consultation with no obligation.

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Unfortunately, no single debt relief program works for everyone because each situation is unique. There are pros and cons to each debt relief solution. Be aware that most debt relief programs appear on your credit report and impact your credit score.

The best Canada debt relief programs for 2023

There are some great Canada debt relief programs that can help you become debt free. Here are some of Canada’s best options:

Debt consolidation loan

Debt consolidation loans let you combine multiple debts and make one monthly repayment. It makes debt more manageable, and you’ll pay a lower interest rate.

If you want to get your debt under control but are not defaulting on payments, debt consolidation might help you, but you need a stable income and a good credit score.

Pros and cons of debt consolidation

Credit counselling and debt management plans

Credit counselling services offer advice on resolving debt problems and guidance on household spending and budgeting.

A credit counsellor often recommends a program called a debt management plan, allowing you to repay your debts over three years. You make a monthly payment to the credit counselling agency.

The credit counsellor’s role is to help you repay the total debt within the agreed timeframe. You cannot reduce your debt through a debt management plan.

For-profit and non-profit agencies carry out credit counselling services. Always choose a non-profit credit counselling agency.

Pros and cons of credit counselling

Debt settlement

Debt settlement is when a company works with your creditors to lower your debt repayments, often for less than the total amount you owe.

The time it takes to complete a debt settlement program depends on the negotiations with your creditors.

A debt settlement company is a terrible idea. They are only offered by private companies looking to make a quick buck. You will usually pay hefty fees; in many cases, they will refer you to a Licensed Insolvency Trustee.

Furthermore, debt settlement firms cannot guarantee that creditors will accept a settlement offer. They don’t have any powers to stop creditors from contacting you.

If you’re looking for debt settlement that offers protection from creditors, a Licensed Insolvency Trustee can do so through bankruptcy or a consumer proposal.

Pros and cons of debt settlement

Consumer proposal

A consumer proposal is a legally binding debt relief plan between you and your creditors.

Depending on your financial situation, you repay your creditors part of what you owe them, with the rest of your debt forgiven.

Your unsecured debt is restructured into one affordable monthly payment for up to five years. No interest is applied to your payments; the amount will never increase, even if your income increases.

You can pay off your consumer proposal at any time. Debt collection agencies cannot take any further action against you.

Although it is not a government debt relief program as such, it is a legal process governed by the Bankruptcy and Insolvency Act and overseen by the Office of the Superintendent of Bankruptcy (OSB), with fees set by the federal government.

The service can only be administered by a Licensed Insolvency Trustee, a licenced and regulated professional. Upon completion of your proposal, your trustee shall release you from any remaining debt obligations.

A consumer proposal is usually less expensive than other debt solutions because it offers debt reduction, among other benefits. While it is technically not a free debt relief program, fees are deducted from your debt repayments at no extra cost.

Pros and cons of a consumer proposal

Personal bankruptcy

Filing for bankruptcy can be avoided by filing a consumer proposal. However, if you are in an unfortunate situation with no income or assets, bankruptcy can sometimes give you the fresh start you need.

Bankruptcy works by surrendering your assets to a Licensed Insolvency Trustee. But you won’t lose everything because some assets are protected depending on where you live.

When you declare bankruptcy, your unsecured creditors cannot take further action, including collection calls, wage garnishments, and legal action.

This consumer protection is called a Stay of Proceedings. This automatically occurs when you file bankruptcy or enter into a consumer proposal.

Pros and cons of bankruptcy

There is a government-approved debt program

Although the Canadian government does not explicitly offer debt relief, a government-approved debt relief program called a consumer proposal exists.

There are many different debt relief options out there. It is essential to research each Canada debt relief program and find the one that best fits your situation.

If you want some free advice, a Licensed Insolvency Trustee provides easy debt help for Canadians in need. Use the form below to get started.

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