Insolvency Statistics in Canada — 2019

Volume of insolvencies

In 2019, 140,858 insolvencies were filed with the Office of the Superintendent of Bankruptcy (OSB), representing a 9.3% increase from the previous year. Consumer insolvencies increased by 9.5% to 137,178 filings, while business insolvencies increased by 2.8% to 3,680. The proportion of proposals in consumer insolvencies continued to grow, reaching a new high of 60.3%, up from 56.0% in the previous year.

Note that…

To understand the insolvency data, it is useful to know the state of the economy. Despite a slow-down in global growth, the Canadian economy continued to grow at a steady pace. The real Gross Domestic Product (GDP) grew by 1.6%Footnote 1 in 2019, the second fastest rate among the Group of Seven (G7)Footnote 2. The unemployment rate in 2019 was the lowest it has been since 1974, with a rate of 5.7%, down from 5.8% in 2018Footnote 3. Household debt continues to remain at very high levels in 2019. The household debt service ratio increased to 14.9 in 2019, up from 14.6 in 2018Footnote 4.

Demographics at a glance

Differences in insolvency filings by age group in 2019 varied only slightly from 2018. The share of insolvency filings by individuals 18 to 34 years old was 23.4%, up slightly from 23.2% in 2018. Individuals aged 35 to 49 years old filed 37.6% of total insolvencies, down from 37.4% in 2018. Individuals aged 50 to 64 filed 27.2% of total filings, slightly down from 27.5% in 2018. The share of insolvencies for individuals aged 65 and over increased steadily from 2003 to 2018, reaching a high of 11.9% in 2018. However, 2019 ended that trend with a slight decrease to 11.7%. Women's share of insolvency filings increased for the fifth straight year in 2019; climbing to 47.9%, up from 47.3% in 2018. Conversely, men's share declined to 52.1%, down from 52.7% the previous year.

Note that…

According to Statistics Canada, Canada had the largest annual population increase ever from July 1, 2018, to July 1, 2019. The growth rate of 1.4% during this period was the highest among G7 countriesFootnote 5. The share of individuals aged 50 to 64 years old decreased slightly, from 20.9% in 2018 to 20.7% in 2019. The Canadian population continues to age, with seniors (aged 65+) accounting for 17.5% of the Canadian population, up from 17.1% in 2018. Statistics Canada's population projections predict that the proportion of seniors will continue to increase in coming years, reaching between 20.9% and 22.4% by 2028Footnote 6. Other age groups experienced minimal changes. The ratio of men to women in Canada did not change in 2019. Women account for 50.3% of the population and men 49.7%Footnote 7.

Regions at a glance

The three provinces which registered the greatest percentage increases in consumer insolvencies from 2018 to 2019 were Ontario, by 15.4% (+5,996 filings), Newfoundland and Labrador, by 15.0% (+419 filings), and Alberta, by 14.6% (+2,120 filings). In Ontario, the Toronto economic region experienced the largest percentage and absolute increase, totaling 21.4% (+3,357 filings). In Newfoundland and Labrador, the economic region of Notre Dame - Central Bonavista Bay experienced the largest absolute increase in filings, totaling 168 filings (26.9%). Alberta saw its largest absolute increase in the economic region of Edmonton, with 770 filings (15.4%). For 2019 business insolvencies, the province of Quebec saw the largest increase in volume, with 31 additional filings, however this represents a relatively small percentage increase of 1.5%. British Columbia experienced the second largest increase, with 24 filings (23.3%). Tied for third place were Newfoundland and Labrador, and Alberta, both at 17 additional filings (70.8% and 8.3% respective increases).

Note that…

Canada is a vast country and there are substantial economic differences across regions. While the national real GDP growth rate in 2019 was 1.6%, Alberta saw only a 0.5% increase, followed by New Brunswick (0.6%) and Saskatchewan (0.9%). Quebec experienced the largest growth at 2.8%. The unemployment rate in the Atlantic provinces varied from 7.2% to 12%, higher than any other provinces in Canada. Alberta had the next highest rate, increasing from 6.7% to 6.9%. Alberta and New Brunswick were the only provinces that had an increasing unemployment rate in 2019.

British Columbia continues to have the lowest unemployment rate at 4.7%Footnote 8.

Industry at a glance

In 2019, business insolvencies increased for the first time since 2001. The 2.8% jump from the previous year (3,580 to 3,680) marks the end of an almost two‑decade decline in business filings. Despite the increase, the volume of business filings is only 30% of what it was in 2001. Additionally, the insolvency rate of businesses is only 15% of what it was in 2001 (0.9 insolvencies per 1000 businesses in 2019, compared to 5.8 insolvencies per 1000 businesses in 2001)Footnote 9. The three sectors which registered the greatest increases in insolvencies were manufacturing (+41 filings); professional, scientific and technical services (+36 filings); and wholesale trade (+34 filings). Construction, accommodation and food services, as well as retail trade experienced the greatest decreases in insolvencies, by 39, 31 and 25 filings respectively.

Note that…

In 2019, according to Statistics Canada's the three industrial sectors with the lowest growth rates in GDP were mining, quarrying, and oil and gas extraction (-5.1%), management of companies and enterprises (-1.0%), and construction (-0.4%). The three largest increases were professional, scientific and technical services (4.5%), health care and social assistance (3.3%), and finance and insurance (2.9%)Footnote 10.

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