Debt Overload: Prevent rather than Cure (in French only)


Marc-Olivier Moisan-Plante, Paul Gauvin, Marc Simard


Union des consommateurs




The purpose of this research was to study household motivations for consulting personal finance help organizations, determine at what level of indebtedness they were calling for help, and find out what services such households hope to receive. By gaining a better understanding of those aspects, the Union des consommateurs wanted to develop communication strategies for targeting and reaching a clientele of households experiencing financial difficulties and guide them toward suitable budget assistance services before their debt problem becomes insoluble. To obtain necessary information for our investigation, we conducted a survey of households having participated in personalized budget consultations or in workshops or courses on the subject. The study took place over a period of four months, from November 2008 to February 2009; 39 households who participated in budget consultations and 29 who registered for a workshop or a course filled out the questionnaire. Communication strategy analysis, based on survey data and information from participating ACEFs, was entrusted to a specialist in the field. A large part of our respondents (70% of budget consultations and 48% of workshops) contacted the ACEFs once they realized the gravity of their debt situation and despaired of bearing the consequences. Poor knowledge of help organizations (the Associations cooperatives d’économie familiale (ACEF) in our case) and their services is also, of course, a major hindrance to the decision of asking them for help. Among households acknowledging difficulties, 79% (33 of the 42 households in question) had no knowledge of the existence of ACEFs before experiencing a debt problem, whereas 12 of the 26 households without problematic debt had no such knowledge.

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French only

OCA Funded Research
This research received funding support through the Office of Consumer Affairs' Contributions Program.

Contact information

Union des consommateurs
7000 Parc Ave, Suite 201
Montreal, QC  H3N 1X1
(514) 521-6820
(514) 521-0736

Source: Consumer Policy Research Database

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