Getting out of the spiral of debt - Bankruptcy trustees: the best-qualified professionals for solving financial problems

MONTREAL, Jan. 11 /CNW Telbec/ - Debt is a problem experienced by thousands of consumers at the best of times - and it can create particularly difficult times after the holidays. The situation can be further complicated by the fact that many people do not know where to look for help. Yet, a solution exists and is readily available to everyone: bankruptcy trustees.

"We need to break the taboo surrounding financial insolvency", says the President of the Association québécoise des professionnels de la réorganisation et de l'insolvabilité (AQPRI), Josée Pomerleau, B.A.A., D.E.S.S. Fisc., CIRP. "We need to change our long-standing perception of bankruptcy, so that people do not feel guilty or irresponsible if they find themselves in such a situation".

Whether we like it or not, insolvency remains a topical issue. According to data compiled by the Office of the Superintendent of Bankruptcy Canada, some 37 800 Quebeckers experienced insolvency during the year ending October 31, 2010. Of these, 75% declared personal bankruptcy.

The potential causes of financial difficulties
"A large number of people who face financial difficulty or declare bankruptcy find themselves in this situation because of factors completely beyond their control. They may have had a serious illness, lost their job, had their property seized, or experienced a separation", adds the AQPRI President. "Anyone can find themselves in this situation. And we shouldn't forget that all sorts of factors can lead consumers into harsh situations, including the ease of obtaining credit, the ever more complex nature of contracts and financial commitments and, to a certain degree, people's lack of financial education."

Impartial experts and consultants
It's at moments like these when bankruptcy trustees get involved, as they are the only professionals legally authorized to administer bankruptcy proceedings. "Bankruptcy trustees are impartial officers of the court. Their expertise comes from years of high-level academic studies, and their work is regulated by government authorities", explains Josée Pomerleau. "On top of their studies, they also have to hold a license issued by the Office of the Superintendent of Bankruptcy Canada in order to practice their profession. Furthermore, their fees are fixed by legislators, something that helps reassure consumers."

Solutions other than bankruptcy
Trustees are therefore the best-placed professionals to help people solve their financial problems. But the AQPRI insists that bankruptcy is not the only solution available to people facing difficult financial situations.

"There are other solutions, including what is called a consumer proposal. This is an offer prepared with a bankruptcy trustee that is presented to an individual's creditors in order to reduce the total of his/her debts, prolong the repayment period - or even combine these two approaches. Other solutions include a debt consolidation loan, which is an agreement undertaken with a financial institution; or a voluntary deposit, which involves making a payment to the Court every month until the debt has been fully settled: the monthly payment is calculated according to the individual's salary and family responsibilities", adds Josée Pomerleau.

"As for bankruptcy, it is important to understand that is it not necessarily a failure; rather, it is an opportunity to start over again. It's about applying a practical and reasonable solution to a situation that would otherwise be impossible to solve."

Helping rather than stigmatizing
According to the AQPRI, it is important to help, and not judge, people in such a situation. When faced with such a harsh reality, people are more vulnerable. It is therefore essential that they are able to count on professionals who understand them and have the training and the tools to help them.

"When faced with excessive debt, the first objective should be to get back control of the situation and reduce the debt, while respecting both the rights of the creditors and of the people in difficulty", adds Josée Pomerleau. "The mission of trustees is precisely to help consumers fulfill this objective."

Founded in 1980, the Association québécoise des professionnels de la réorganisation et de l'insolvabilité (AQPRI) groups together all licensed bankruptcy trustees in Quebec under the aegis of the Bankruptcy and Insolvency Act. As well as ensuring the continuing education of its members and representing them within the Canadian Association of Insolvency and Restructuring Professionals, AQPRI also oversees relationships with Canada's insolvency community at large.

SOURCE Association québécoise des professionnels de la réorganisation et de l'insolvabilité (AQPRI)

For further information:

Alexandra Graveline
Zone franche l'agence
T: 514 317-5715, extension 203
Cell: 514 943-4606

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Association québécoise des professionnels de la réorganisation et de l'insolvabilité (AQPRI)

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