“BC has the most heavily indebted population in the country. The average BC citizen has $37,879 in consumer (nonmortgage) debt. That’s 40 per cent higher than the national average.”

“Dave Malicki discovered his dark side as he plunged into a hellhole of debt.
The good friend, loving father and respected lawyer showed a flair for denial, counter-attack and wilful ignorance.
Many people thrashing in debt try to consolidate their loans. Malicki de-consolidated.
He divided his borrowing. He borrowed from his mom so he could fly to see his daughters in England, from his girlfriend to cover his rent, from a lawyer friend to cover his law society fee.
“I was in such a state of denial that when my girlfriend or family member would bring it up, I would turn on them and say that they didn’t have any faith in me,” he says. “It was a horrible, horrible thing.”
It grew worse. He fell behind in child support payments and feared he might not be able to borrow money to fly to see his children.
When his debts swelled to $85,000, his girlfriend and his accountant convinced him to get help. Ashamed and guilty, one eye twitching with anxiety, he dragged himself into a bankruptcy trustee.
A few hours later, he had filed for bankruptcy. A euphoria washed over him that has yet to completely fade, seven years later.
“I was walking on air,” he says. “I had tears of joy and relief.”

“A growing number of B.C. residents are running this emotional gauntlet. Beset by stagnant incomes and rising prices, B.C. posted a 42 per cent increase in people going bust over the past four years – far higher than the 11-per-cent national increase.
It’s little wonder insolvencies are surging: B.C. has the most heavily indebted population in the country. The average B.C. consumer has $37,879 in consumer (nonmortgage) debt. That’s 40 per cent higher than the national average.”

“Malicki, 46, is a beacon of hope for those who fear they will never rehabilitate themselves and emerge from the darkness of debt to a better life. He closely tracks all his costs. A renter and house-sitter, he has cut his spending to the point he only works in law halftime.
The rest of the time he works with children, and does paid and unpaid work outdoors. Next month, he flies to Tanzania for three months to help build a secondary school with a Vancouver-based charity.
“While I’m gone the child-support cheques will be sent out and all my obligations will be met,” he says.
Malicki offers three bits of guidance to people in a financial jam. The first is to talk to an expert – and do it now.
“Write down what you spend. By becoming aware of where your money goes your spending habits will change.”
His third piece of advice is reserved exclusively for people whose self-esteem has taken a hit – which is to say, almost every debtor out there.
“Forgive yourself once a day. Maybe twice.”

– from ‘The people’s debt: B.C. has the most heavily indebted population in the country — and the number is growing’, Paul Luke, The Province, 4 Nov 2012

25 responses to ““BC has the most heavily indebted population in the country. The average BC citizen has $37,879 in consumer (nonmortgage) debt. That’s 40 per cent higher than the national average.”

  1. There’s no other province in Canada that looks this ugly. What’s worse is the comfort level people have carrying these debtloads. Tough lessons will be learned

  2. An important note is that while defaults are up, they have yet to surge as 70% of the population (homeowners) have been able to tap into an ever expanding piggy-bank of home equity via HELOCS. Even if prices flatline, many will be in trouble as there will be no more “topping up” of the piggybank. Of course, if prices fall all hell could break loose.

    I also expect the B20 regulations capping HELOC LTV at 65% to drive a surge in defaults as you now have to have significantly more equity to even begin to access it. For those living on the edge this won’t be an option.

    Finally, the “bankruptcy” figures you see are not indicative of consumer stress levels after the invention of the “consumer proposal” pathway which allows technically bankrupt people to work out deals with lenders, but not call it a formal bankruptcy.

  3. Good on him, way too much moral pressure with debt. Used to be they broke your arm. Now they use more underhanded tactics.

    • UBCghettodweller

      I always thought cutting off finger tips and/or kneecapping carried more fear.

      Maybe branding them on the wrist or hand like they did pirates?

  4. It looks this person did not have a mortgage to being with so the 85K was consumer debt. What happens if the person declaring bankruptcy had 50K in consumer debt, 100K HELOC and a 500K mortgage. What gets wiped out in a bankruptcy and what stays?

    living the debt free lifestyle in Canada makes me feel like I am some weird mutant.

    Will the government be forced to create inflation to deal with the problem of everyone being in too much debt.

    • Consumer debt is wiped out at a loss to the bank. The bank takes the house for the mortgage and HELOC. The bank sells the house and is made whole if possible, with any proceeds not owed (or taken through fees) going to the homeowner. Falling house prices come out of the owner’s pocket first, and if they are wiped out the bank takes a hit. CMHC insurance on high ratio loans protect the bank at taxpayer expense, however there are costs involved no matter what.

      E.g. a foreclosing bank has to pay property taxes and pay someone to sell the house, while their capital is tied up in it. And if they are seeking reimbursement from the government, well, let’s just say that sometimes that’s easy and sometimes it’s hard.

  5. Forgive yourself. Load up on debt, live the high life and then declare bankruptcy.

  6. what kind of fucking lawyer is this guy? and whatever happened to personal responsibility? motherfuckers who get this far in debt should be forced to live in this hell without the reprieve of bankruptcy

    • where is the fucking remorse from this guy? jesus

      • Goodness… what language!
        That aside, do somewhat agree.
        Interesting that it’s not a story about somebody who has been through bankruptcy and is now working hard; rather about somebody who has gained some insight into his profligate spending, and now appears to be spending less but only working for financial gain roughly half-time.
        We live in remarkable times when you consider that you can rehabilitate yourself financially by doing that. As LJ implies below, contrast with debtor’s prison.

      • Jesus is a good bet, as you say. Some sort of conversion.

      • I approve this message and the language used… We have a right to be fucking angry after all the insanity and fraud that has been going on for years.
        And considering what lies ahead of us – all this future “forgivness” paid by savers and taxpayers… sick…

      • bubbly -> Yes, the forgiveness is shouldered in part by the community.

      • It’s “forgiveness”, not forgiveness.
        Real forgiveness would be if the creditor forgives the debt and takes the loss. It’s called a write-off and it means that the creditor takes responsibility for taking a risk and losing.
        But the “forgiveness” happening these days is the debtor forgiving himself and the consequences of his irresponsible actions are shared by anonymous savers and taxpayers who do not have a say in this matter. NOT community, like you are suggesting.

      • i think you are missing the big picture.. if debtors prisons come into being..it reduces the risks on banks and they will inflate bigger credit bubbles with masses of people living in debt slavery..making RE loans non recourse on the other hand will force banks to not give away free money… but i hate the fact that this guy got his slate wiped just like that…. however i feel that the only control by public policy can exert is over banks as they are the ones who are exploiting the system more than this guy.

      • capitalismi sine conturbauit est similis christianitate sine inferno

      • Capitalism without bankruptcy is not really capitalism.

      • True. Moral hazard.

      • Naked Official #9000

        bubbly, you’re taking all the fun out of latin..

  7. Bring back debtor’s prisons.

    Get all 19th century on their sorry a$$e$!!!

  8. Dave flies to Tanzania in three months, and never comes back. Meanwhile Canada becomes inhabitable because of environmental calamity.

    Media is toying with us, as usual.

  9. like the look of little tree-like thing beside his head and he’s got a scale for dosing substances

  10. I saw a late model A8 today in downtown Vancouver today with custom BC Plates:


    I don’t if he was bragging he was able to lease his car with no money down or if he was complaining about having no money.

    Either way, I thought it encapsulated Vancouver rather well.

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