Coronavirus: Poll shows Canadians support debt cancellation on some ‘compassionate’ grounds
TORONTO — As the COVID-19 pandemic enters its twelfth month in this country, the financial strain of the health crisis has yet to ease for the many unemployed, sick and bereaved Canadians.
In recent months, national and international groups have increasingly called for the cancellation of this debt. It’s a controversial policy, but according to a recent national poll, it’s a policy that the majority of Canadians support when it comes to the three main “debt-creating” scenarios: serious illness, job loss and death of a loved one.
“The collective experience of COVID has probably made us all more compassionate,” Jasmine Marra, vice-chairman of Bromwich and Smith, said in a press release.
In mid-December, the group of insolvency trustees and debt specialists administered the survey to more than 1,500 Canadians. Eight in 10 said they would support critical illness debt forgiveness, while 72% favored the policy in the event of the death of a loved one and 63% in the event of job loss.
“Empathy plays a critical role in destigmatizing debt and helping clients rebuild their worth and thrive,” Marra said.
In an interview with CTV News Channel on Saturday, Bromwich and Smith Vice President of Insolvency Shawn Stack added that the survey results suggest there may be hope for reducing the stigma around debt. .
“We don’t really have a language game about how to deal with debt, so if we start talking to our friends and colleagues, or even our spouses and loved ones, about our struggles with debt, we let’s really close as a people. ,” he said.
“It’s really important that we do our best to remove that stigma associated with something like this.”
While empathy and eliminating stigma can have emotional benefits, governments hold the financial power when it comes to debt cancellation. In Canada, the federal government has made it clear that some self-employed recipients of the Canada Emergency Response Benefit will still have to repay their loans, despite confusing messaging.
In British Columbia last fall, a group representing small businesses asked the provincial government to consider a partial remission of tax payments after a survey of its members revealed that one in ten would not unable to pay on time.
“There’s no doubt in anyone’s mind that people are suffering a tremendous amount of financial pain during this time,” Stack said.