TORONTO, Nov. 09, 2020 (GLOBE NEWSWIRE) -- With the country teetering alarmingly on the edge of a financial crisis, Canada’s leading accrediting body for non-profit credit counsellors has released a Bill of Rights for Canadians in Debt.

Credit Counselling Canada has identified major structural gaps in the country’s consumer credit/debt infrastructure. With Canadians extremely vulnerable to economic shock due to the pandemic, the national association is urging a stark call to action for greater transparency and awareness around unbiased and affordable debt relief options – as well as a progressive framework for financial education.

“In these unprecedented times, the personal finances of over eight million Canadians have been impacted by the COVID-19 pandemic and many are coping with job losses, reduced incomes, and minimal access to key support services,” said Michelle Pommells, CEO of Credit Counselling Canada.

Coalition around debt support services addresses national priority
Credit Counselling Canada is working with Prosper Canada, a national charity dedicated to expanding economic opportunity for Canadians living in poverty through program and policy innovation. The two organizations believe building the financial stability and resilience of Canadians needs to be an “immediate national priority.”

“There is a critical and pervasive need to help Canadians navigate the current economic situation, and a ready network of non-profits is available to meet the need,” said Pommells. “Our government should adopt a collaborative investment approach similar to models in the UK, Australia and New Zealand. These three progressive peer nations have invested in financial help services to supplement their COVID-19 relief packages.”

“Prosper Canada’s aim is to ensure that all financially vulnerable Canadians have access to the financial policies, programs and advice they need to build their financial wellbeing,” said Elizabeth Mulholland, CEO of Prosper Canada. “Ensuring access to free and/or low-cost financial counselling and safe, unbiased information can help Canadians weather this crisis and withstand future emergencies. The time to invest in a strong recovery for everyone in Canada is now.”

Existing consumer sentiment is one of confusion
In a recent Credit Counselling Canada survey, Canadians revealed the issues they face when seeking debt assistance. The greatest challenge respondents cited was a lack of focus on financial wellness and education (72%), followed by a lack of transparency around fees (70%), conflict of interest and a lack of transparency around organization’s motives (69%).

Bill of Rights for Canadians in Debt
The Bill of Rights for Canadians in Debt outlines the freedoms and guarantees all Canadians should expect when seeking credit counselling. The seven rights are as followed:

  1. The right to non-profit credit counselling that safeguards my information
  2. The right to non-profit credit counselling that is judgement free
  3. The right to non-profit credit counselling that is based on experience
  4. The right to non-profit credit counselling that is based on standards
  5. The right to non-profit credit counselling that is affordable
  6. The right to non-profit credit counselling that is comprehensive and balanced
  7. The right to non-profit credit counselling that helps me achieve a better future

“A cross-sector, collaborative approach that includes the non-profit, credit counselling sector is essential to help those at risk,” said Pommells. “Greater financial education will build a solid foundation for all Canadians to get through the pandemic and beyond.”

The Bill of Rights for Canadians in Debt can be found here. For an interview with Michelle Pommells, CEO of Credit Counselling Canada, please see the contacts below.

About Credit Counselling Canada
Credit Counselling Canada is the national association of non-profit credit counselling agencies that work provincially, regionally and locally throughout Canada. The association’s agencies exist to help individuals and families sort out their personal finances on a non-profit basis and have helped more than 12 million Canadians deal with debt in the past decade. As vocal advocates for consumer financial literacy, Credit Counselling Canada ensures clients receive highly qualified support at little or no cost. Visit www.creditcounsellingcanada.ca for more information and follow us on Twitter and Facebook.

Contact for more information:
Holly Brennan, MAVERICK
Mobile: 647-926-4333
Emailhollyb@wearemaverick.com

Emma Ninham, MAVERICK
Mobile: 437-986-5746
Email: emman@wearemaverick.com