At this time we know that many Canadians are feeling the stress of debt. Many families and businesses have suffered from the COVID pandemic, and this naturally gives rise to increased anxiety about our finances.

But no one should have to go through this period of stress alone. Both Scotiabank and government agencies are here to help you get through this difficult period. Here are some recommendations, which we hope you will find helpful if you are affected by COVID.

Check to see if you have debt problems

Sometimes debt can creep up on you, and you don’t know that it has become a real issue until it starts to affect you and your family in unexpected ways.

Start by asking these simple questions:

  • Can I cover minimum monthly payments on credit cards?
  • Do I need to rely on credit to cover basic expenses such as rent and groceries?
  • Do I know exactly how much debt I have, and who I owe it to?
  • Does my debt never seem to get any lower?
  • Does worrying about debt affect my work, leisure time, or family relationships?

If the answer to any or all of these questions is “yes”, then you may have debt problems. There is no need to feel any shame about having debt problems. In fact, by asking these questions, you have already taken a great first step to getting on top of the problems.

What to do next?

The first thing to do is to talk to someone who can help. Sharing your situation is a great way to get the problems off your mind – a problem shared really is a problem halved.

Here are three ways you can start to get the right advice.

Use our Advice+ Guide to Reducing Debt

If you feel confident to take the first steps by yourself, use our step-by-step guide to getting out of debt. It contains handy hints as to how to approach the problem, and links to useful tools that can help you create a new household budget.

Talk to us at Scotiabank

Our advisors are keen to talk to any of our customers who face financial difficulty. There may be alternative arrangements we can make to repay money you owe, such as loan consolidation or lengthening the term of debt to reduce monthly payments. You can use our Branch Locator or call us on 1-800-472-6842 to make an appointment with a Scotia advisor who will be very happy to help you.

Talk to a Credit Counselling agency

You may want to talk one of the independent not-for-profit credit counselling agencies who serve Canadians with independent advice on debt. These agencies provide a number of different services. Some people just need help with general money management, budgeting and education on how personal finances work. Others may need the agency to step in and talk to creditors such as credit card companies to help organize changes to how the debt is to be paid. Others may need a more detailed debt management program with ongoing counselling, and help setting up regular and manageable payments to creditors.

To learn more and find a credit counselling agency in your region, please see the websites of these not-for-profit agencies: