Consumer debt and household vulnerability among low and moderate- income households in Canada 

Household debt levels in Canada have been rising since the 1990s, which poses increasing risks for Canada’s economy and Canadians’ financial health. However, the debt ‘picture’ for an average low- or moderate-income household is likely to be quite different from higher income households, both in terms of amount of debt and type of debt they take on. 

Join Alex Bucik and Vivian Odufrom Prosper Canada in this one-hour webinar where theywe will present findings from recent Prosper Canada’s recent research on consumer debt in CanadaRoadblock to Recovery: Consumer debt of low- and moderate-income Canadians in the time of COVID-19. Alex and Vivian will explore what types of debt are more common in low- or moderate-income householdsand some of the drivers of this debt load.  

This webinar is intended to equip financial educators and frontline practitioners supporting low-income clients, with recent knowledge on the types of debt Canadians living on low income may be dealing with, and things to know about the pitfalls of different types of debt. 

Click 'Get it' below to access the video link, and scroll down to access handouts, slides, and video timestamps for this webinar.



Read the presentation slides for this webinar.

Handouts for this webinar:
Report: Roadblock to recovery: Consumer debt of low- and moderate-income Canadian households in the time of COVID-19 (Prosper Canada)
Survey results: Canadians with incomes under $40K bearing the financial brunt of COVID-19 (Leger and Prosper Canada)

Time-stamps for the video recording:
4:42 – Agenda and introductions
7:52 – Audience polls
10:55 – Researching consumer debt (Speaker: Alex Bucik)
18:55 – How much does debt cost? (Speaker: Alex Bucik)
23:17 – How do different kinds of debt work? (Speaker: Alex Bucik)
29:17 – What are people using their credit for? (Speaker: Vivian Odu)
40:49 – What help is available to Canadian borrowers? (Speaker: Alex Bucik)
45:22 – Q&A

The Early Effects of the COVID-19 Pandemic on Credit Applications

This report documents the early effects of the COVID-19 pandemic on credit applications, which are among the very first credit market measures to change in credit report data in response to changes in economic activity. Using the Bureau’s Consumer Credit Panel, how applications for auto loans, mortgages, credit cards, and other loans changed week-by-week during the month of March, compared to the same time in previous years was studied.



Report on Income and Canadian Financial Consumer Complaints

This report explores the financial services complaint experiences of Canadians at various income levels who used the Ombudsman for Banking Services and Investments (OBSI)’s service. The national, not-for-profit organization collected demographic and case data for almost 1,000 closed cases resolved between 2017 to 2019 to create the report. These cases were grouped into three categories:

  • lower-income households (under $60,000);
  • middle-income households ($60,000 to $100,000); and
  • higher-income households (over $100,000).

Key findings include:

  • Lower-income households represent almost 40% of OBSI cases. Lower-income consumers of financial services need and make use of OBSI as an accessible alternative to the legal system.
  • Nearly one-third (30%) of employed complainants live in lower- or middle-income households. Canadians experience economic barriers to accessing legal services regardless of their employment status.
  • Most lower-income complainants are over 60, while most higher-income complainants are under 50. Older Canadians have a particular need for accessible dispute resolution.



Consumer Insights on Managing Spending

The CFPB conducted research on consumer challenges in tracking spending and keeping to a budget. The research found that consumers aspire to manage their spending but for many reasons, many consumers spend more than intended and sometimes have\ difficulty in staying within their budgets. In addition, we found that although most people would like to use budgets and plans, they often don’t use them to guide spending decisions in the moment.

Budgeting and tracking spending are often considered to be overwhelming or too much of a hassle, and even those consumers who have a budget generally do not benchmark their spending to their budget frequently or regularly.



Credit Card Payment Calculator

This tool from the Financial Consumer Agency of Canada will help you compare different payment options to pay off your credit card balance.

statement. If you can't, you can still reduce the amount of interest you will have to pay. The credit card payment calculator compares 3 different payment options to pay off your credit card balance.



Your Money Seniors


Your Money Seniors is a financial literacy program for seniors. Modelled on the CBA’s highly successful Your Money Students program, this seminar program is offered in French and English, free of charge, to seniors’ groups across the country.

Your Money Seniors is presented by bankers in the community volunteering their time and expertise and covers how seniors can:




Handout 6-3: The cost of credit


This handout is from Module 6 of the Financial Literacy facilitator curriculum. The cost of credit for different payment methods.




Handout 6-2: Credit card features


This handout is from Module 6 of the Financial Literacy Facilitator Resources. The features of credit cards and what they mean.

To view full Financial Literacy Facilitator Resources, click here.




Handout 6-1: Types of credit


This handout is from Module 6 of the Financial Literacy Facilitator Resources. The different types of credit and their lending conditions.

To view full Financial Literacy Facilitator Resources, click here.




The Monthly Stress-Test on Family Finances

Helpful shortcuts for credit card use: Ideas for financial educators


To test out the impact of rules of thumb in helping consumers decrease their credit card debt, the CFPB
commissioned a rigorous study of two financial rules of thumb on consumers with revolving credit card debt. We created two new guidelines aimed at aiding consumers to decrease their revolving credit card debt: Don’t swipe the small stuff – Use cash when it’s under $20; Credit keeps charging – It adds approximately 20% to the total.


Minimum Payments and Debt Paydown in Consumer Credit Cards

Do What You Love: Financial Planning for Artists & Designers

Tips to save money while you’re in school

Understanding Credit Card Fees (Financial Literacy Series)

Understanding your Credit Report and Credit Score

Be Smart with Your Credit Card: Tips to Help You Use Your Credit Card Wisely

Credit Cards: Understanding Your Rights and Your Responsibilities

Protecting Your Credit Report: How to Correct Errors and Check for Fraud


Your credit report is important for your financial health. It can help you get approved for credit cards and other loans. It can also affect your ability to rent housing or get hired for a job.
Protect your credit report by checking carefully for errors and signs of identity theft. You have the right to dispute any information in your credit report that you believe is wrong. You can ask the credit reporting agencies to correct errors. It’s free.


An Invisible Finance Sector: How Households Use Financial Tools of Their Own Making

The Role of Emergency Savings in Family Financial Security: How do Families Cope with Financial Shocks?

Savings crisis: 20 years in the making

Credit and Debt Management. Ontario Edition.

Weathering Volatility: Big Data on the Financial Ups and Downs of U.S. Individuals

Financial Capability in the United States. National Survey – Executive Summary

Financial Capability in the United States 2016

Competing on Financial Health: How Credit Unions Can Win the Gen Y Market

Secured Credit Cards: Innovating at the Intersection of Savings and Credit

Building Consumer Credit: A Winning Strategy for Financial Institutions and Consumers

Fair Lending Report of the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau