“Today, at 75, I’m picking myself up again and have nothing ahead of me”: Older people are also stuck in their necks

Young Quebecers are increasingly represented in bankruptcy proceedings in Quebec. Our Bureau of Investigation and the JE program met several young people who became bankrupt before the age of 25, as well as older people who had difficulty paying their bills.


TOTAL DEBT: $10,002

  • SURNAME : Muriel
  • AGE : 75 years old
  • CITY : Montreal
  • BANKRUPTCY : January 2022
  • CAUSE : Decrease in income after his mother was placed in a hostel

TOTAL DEBT: $8,628

  • SURNAME : Madeleine
  • AGE : 95 years old
  • CITY : Montreal
  • BANKRUPTCY : March 2022
  • CAUSE : insufficient income compared to obligations


Many older, low-income retirees struggle to pay their bills and have limited options to cope.

According to the Office of the Superintendent of Bankruptcy, in 2022, more than a quarter of bankruptcy filings by people aged 65 and over in Canada were in Quebec.

Our investigative agency revealed yesterday that young Quebecers are having increasing difficulty making ends meet and that they now account for almost a third of bankruptcy cases in Quebec.

But it’s not just young people who find it difficult to get there. Murielle, a 75-year-old retiree, and her 95-year-old mother each had to file for bankruptcy within a few months of each other in 2022 because they could no longer pay their bills.

“I worked for 46 years. I started at 19 and finished at 67. “I am 75 years old today, almost 76, and have nothing ahead of me,” regrets Murielle, who prefers to keep her last name secret.

The story of these two women shows how difficult it can be to stay on budget when your health declines. There are few ways to generate new income.

The two older women never owned real estate again, an important factor in the recent enrichment, according to trustees (see other text).

“We are seeing more and more people who, despite all their efforts, do not succeed. We know that food banks are overwhelmed and relief resources are full everywhere,” estimates Marie-Josée Ouimet, budget advisor at ACEF Lanaudière.

Costly fall

According to Murielle’s story, it was her mother’s fall that caused her bankruptcy.

The two women lived in the same apartment, but Madeleine’s accident resulted in her being hospitalized. She then had to live in an animal shelter because she could no longer walk.

As a result, she had to pay $1,596 per month for an apartment, and Murielle continued to cover the cost of the apartment alone.

“It would have been too painful for me to take care of her, pick her up and so on. She would have been condemned to spend the whole day in her room and bed. The CLSC could come three times a day, that’s the maximum. They couldn’t come anymore,” she explains.

This situation means that every expense, no matter how small, is now carefully analyzed.

Murielle provided our investigative office with a notebook that records each disbursement to ensure we do not exceed a quickly paid budget.

“There are no excursions or leisure activities,” summarizes Murielle. The small [luxes] that before we could afford to go to the hairdresser, we once owned a restaurant; That’s all we had to put aside to at least be able to live in our apartment.”

Something as simple as buying shoes becomes complicated.

It was necessary to negotiate with the accommodation facility to reduce the rent by around $200 per month, says the 75-year-old, but every time it was a hurdle to justify the limited resources.

Voracious lenders

Murielle says she was told no by most financial institutions when it came to seeking help. It must be said that this was not the first bankruptcy. It had already declared itself insolvent in 2002 and 2018.

The interest rates she was offered ranged from 28% to 31%, she said.

“We borrowed $5,000 and $7,000 and had to pay back almost $20,000,” Murielle says.

“It’s a humiliation. We feel irresponsible, even if it is life that makes us do it, because everything is increasing and everything is expensive,” she emphasizes.

She says her mother sometimes says she can’t wait to “go away” so she can no longer be a financial burden, but that’s something she hates hearing.

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Originally posted 2023-11-11 08:20:28.