Valley First

Bankruptcy Growing Threat for Seniors

Bankruptcy a growing threat to an increasing number of seniors

September 1, 2015

Penticton, B.C.—New figures show a growing number of seniors are outliving their savings, carrying debt into retirement and facing the looming threat of bankruptcy during their golden years.

Numbers from the Office of the Superintendent of Bankruptcy and Statistics Canada reveal 10.9 per cent of British Columbians who declared bankruptcy in 2014 were 65 years of age or older.

“Across the country, retirement-age bankruptcy has emerged as a real threat to the financial security of our seniors,” says Jay Christensen, a financial expert with First West Credit Union’s Valley First division. “It’s no secret people are living longer, healthier lives. This longevity needs to part of your financial planning discussions; you don’t want to outlive your retirement income.”

Based on the 2014 numbers, the Okanagan, Thompson, and Similkameen valleys could see over 170 retirement age seniors in an insolvency position this year. What’s more concerning for some is the noticeable jump—20 per cent between 2010 and 2014—in retirement-age bankruptcies in the last few years. This increase can be partly attributed to easy access to credit.

“The attractiveness of easy money, low interest rates and borrowing beyond our means is usually thought of as a stumbling block something younger Canadians encounter,” says Christensen. “But, seniors aren’t immune to falling into the debt trap. Whereas younger people have many working years ahead to become debt-free, seniors who carry debt into retirement or accrue debt after they’ve finished working may have a hard time balancing the books when relying only on a fixed income.”

As a solution, Christensen offers the same advice to those in their senior years as he does to his younger clients: “Thorough and thoughtful financial planning. Regardless of age, you should be reviewing your financial plan at least once a year. Our financial situations and obligations are changing all the time. It’s essential we understand what affect these changes may have on us now and many years into the future.”

About Valley First

Valley First is a premier provider of banking, investment and insurance services for residents and businesses in the Okanagan, Similkameen and Thompson valleys. As a division of First West Credit Union, B.C.'s third-largest credit union with 54 branches and 38 insurance offices throughout the province, Valley First brings innovative products, an extensive branch network and local decision making to the banking experience. For more information on Valley First, visit

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