Consumer Proposal or Bankruptcy: 4 Key Differences

Have you ever heard about a consumer proposal and wondered how it differs from bankruptcy? What are they and how do they work? Whether it’s a consumer proposal or bankruptcy, both are strategies for overcoming debt and require the expertise of a Licensed Insolvency Trustee (LIT). But there are important differences between the two that you should know about.

What is a consumer proposal?  

A common alternative to bankruptcy, a consumer proposal is a formal agreement between you and your creditors that enables you to repay only part of your debt. The LIT is a key intermediary between you and your creditors and they will renegotiate your unsecured debts so that you repay a reduced amount over a specific period of time. A consumer proposal can only reduce your unsecured debts, like credit cards, lines of credit, and personal loans that are not secured by an underlying asset, like your home or vehicle.  

What is bankruptcy? 

personal bankruptcy is a legal process that provides immediate relief from unmanageable debt. Declaring bankruptcy is a formal solution for people who are unable to pay back their unsecured debts. But when you file for bankruptcy, you may be required to surrender some of your assets as payment to your creditors. It is therefore more serious and more closely monitored than a consumer proposal. 

There are many important differences between a consumer proposal and bankruptcyWe’ll explain them according to four main differentiators: how they affect your assets, how long they take, their impact on your credit, and their cost 

1. How does a consumer proposal or bankruptcy affect my assets? 

The biggest difference between a consumer proposal and bankruptcy is the impact on your assets. A consumer proposal allows you to renegotiate your unsecured debts (credit cards, lines of credit, etc.) and keep your assets and secured debts, like your mortgage and car loan, separate 

If you file for bankruptcy, unsecured debts are eliminated but certain assets may be seized to reimburse your creditorsHowever, filing for bankruptcy doesn’t mean you will lose everything. Each province has a list of assets that are exempt from seizure.   

2. How long does a consumer proposal or bankruptcy last? 

A consumer proposal offers more flexibility in its duration. As an agreement between you and your creditors, your LIT will work with you to determine the length of time it will take for you to complete payments, up to a maximum of five years.  

Bankruptcies are generally shorter in length than consumer proposals. For a first-time bankruptcy, you can complete the process in as few as nine months. If you are required to make surplus income paymentsthe process is extended an extra 12 months.  

3. How long does consumer proposal or bankruptcy stay on my credit report? 

A consumer proposal and bankruptcy will both have an impact on your credit history. However, a consumer proposal is less serious. After filing a consumer proposal, your credit report will indicate an R7 rating for either three years after you complete your payments or six years after you initially file, whichever comes first. 

After filing for bankruptcy, your credit report will indicate an R9 rating, which is the lowest rating you can have. Depending on certain circumstances, a first-time bankruptcy will remain on your credit report for six to seven years from the date you are discharged.  

As part of the financial recovery process, for both the consumer proposal and bankruptcy, you must complete credit counselling that will help you rebuild your credit and teach the essentials of sound money management for a debt-free future.  

 4. How much does a consumer proposal or bankruptcy cost?

There are costs and fees associated with both a consumer proposal and bankruptcy. These costs are incorporated into your monthly payment.  

With a consumer proposal, however, the total cost is the amount that your LIT has negotiated with your creditors, usually a portion of your outstanding debts. Any administration fees are taken from this amount. Throughout the consumer proposal, your monthly payment never changes. In general, the monthly payments are often lower than in bankruptcy because they can be spread out over a longer period of time 

The cost of bankruptcy is based on your income. The higher your income, the more you will be required to pay in surplus income payments. Another difference with the consumer proposal is that your monthly payments for bankruptcy can change. If your income increases, so will your monthly payments in a bankruptcy 

Consumer Proposal vs Bankruptcy: which one is right for me? 

There are important differences between a consumer proposal and bankruptcy that must be considered. Both debt relief options are effective strategies for overcoming unmanageable debt. One is not necessarily better than the other. Making the right decision depends on a variety of factors that only a Licensed Insolvency Trustee can help you understand.   

If you are experiencing financial difficulty, you can schedule an initial consultation with a Licensed Insolvency Trustee free of charge. They will explain all of your debt relief options and help you decide on the right course of action.