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Introduction

In British Columbia, many individuals and families are feeling the weight of financial stress like never before. When debts start piling up and feel impossible to manage, it is crucial to understand the debt relief options you have and how they can shape your financial future.

One option that many people explore is filing for bankruptcy. Bankruptcy is a legal process that can offer relief from overwhelming debts and give you a chance to start fresh financially.

As a Licensed Insolvency Trustee, I am here to make sure you understand what happens if you file for bankruptcy in BC and the other solutions you might have. It is not just about going through the steps of bankruptcy; it is about making sure you feel confident and informed about what is ahead. My job as a Trustee is to help you navigate this journey and help you find the best path forward.


The Role of a Licensed Insolvency Trustee in BC Bankruptcy

A Licensed Insolvency Trustee (LIT) is a licensed professional who specializes in providing debt management and insolvency services to individuals and businesses facing financial difficulties. LITs are regulated by the government and are the only professionals who are authorized to administer insolvency proceedings, including bankruptcies and consumer proposals.

An LIT plays a pivotal role in guiding individuals and businesses through the complexities of filing for bankruptcy in BC. From the initial consultation to the Certificate of Discharge, a Trustee provides expert guidance and support at every stage of the process. They assess the client’s financial situation, explain available options, and help create a tailored debt relief strategy that aligns with the debtor’s goals and circumstances. 

Throughout the bankruptcy process, the LIT also acts as a neutral and independent intermediary between the client and their creditors, handling documents, negotiations, and ensuring compliance with strict legal requirements. The LIT’s objective is to help individuals and businesses find a solution that is fair and manageable for their client, while working to achieve the best possible outcome for the creditors involved.


Choosing the Right Bankruptcy Trustee for Your Needs in BC

Selecting an experienced Bankruptcy Trustee is important to navigate the complexities of bankruptcy with confidence. Working directly with a Licensed Trustee ensures that individuals and businesses receive trustworthy advice throughout the bankruptcy process. Due to their extensive education and training, an LIT can accurately assess the situation, recommend the most appropriate debt relief options, and advocate for the best possible outcome on behalf of their clients. Also, their established relationships with creditors can help facilitate smoother negotiations and settlements, minimizing stress and maximizing the chances of a successful resolution. 

When selecting a Bankruptcy Trustee in BC, it is essential to consider several criteria to ensure the best outcome for your financial situation, including: 

  1. Qualifications: When seeking assistance with debt, a crucial inquiry to make is whether the professional is licensed by the Office of the Superintendent of Bankruptcy. Collaborating with a Licensed Insolvency Trustee offers several advantages:

• Expertise: Engage with a seasoned professional well-versed in navigating complex financial challenges.

• Transparency: Expect clear and upfront communication regarding fees

• Alternatives: Explore viable alternatives to bankruptcy, such as filing a consumer proposal

  1. Rapport: Establishing a strong rapport with the Trustee is crucial. Given the inherently stressful nature of this period for most individuals, fostering trust and respect throughout the process is essential. Since a considerable amount of time is spent together, preparing and completing the proceedings, a good relationship ensures a smoother experience.
  2. Surplus Income Discussion: Initiate a conversation with the Trustee regarding surplus income right in the initial consultation. This discussion sets the stage for various aspects of the bankruptcy process, including the duration of bankruptcy, monthly payments, and whether bankruptcy is the best solution for your financial circumstances.
  3. Accessibility and Communication: Choose a bankruptcy trustee who is accessible, responsive, and communicates effectively, ensuring your questions and concerns are addressed promptly.

Navigating the Bankruptcy and Insolvency Act in BC

The Bankruptcy and Insolvency Act (BIA) is a federal legislation in Canada that governs bankruptcy and insolvency proceedings, aiming to provide a fair and orderly process for insolvent individuals or businesses and their creditors. The Act outlines the procedures for both personal and corporate bankruptcies, as well as other forms of insolvency, such as consumer proposals and receiverships.

The BIA in Canada applies uniformly across all provinces and territories, including British Columbia. However, there are certain provincial regulations and exemptions. Here are some key provisions of the BIA that are relevant to individuals in BC:

1. Bankruptcy Process: The BIA outlines the process for filing for bankruptcy, including the procedures for assigning a Licensed Insolvency Trustee (LIT), submitting the Statement of Affairs, and attending mandatory credit counseling sessions.

2. Automatic Stay of Proceedings: Upon filing for bankruptcy, individuals benefit from an automatic stay of proceedings, which stops most legal actions by creditors to collect debts, including wage garnishments and lawsuits.

3. Exemptions: The BIA provides exemptions for certain assets that individuals can keep during bankruptcy, such as necessary household furnishings, clothing, and work tools. Provincial regulations in BC specify additional exemptions, such as certain equity limits for a primary residence.

4. Bankruptcy Discharge: The BIA sets out the conditions for obtaining a discharge from bankruptcy, including the completion of required duties, such as making surplus income payments and attending credit counseling sessions. In BC, the discharge typically occurs after nine or 21 months, depending on whether it is the individual’s first bankruptcy and whether surplus income payments are required. 

5. Consumer Proposals: The BIA allows individuals to make a consumer proposal as an alternative to bankruptcy, where debtors propose a repayment plan to creditors to settle their debts. 

6. Credit Counseling: Individuals are required to attend two credit counseling sessions during bankruptcy, aimed at providing financial education and helping develop budgeting skills to manage finances effectively in the future.

7. Surplus Income: The Office of the Superintendent of Bankruptcy provides Monthly Income Standards each year. If an individual’s net income exceeds this amount by $200 or more, they are required to remit half the surplus income to the bankruptcy estate to be distributed to their creditors. 


The BIA aims to strike a balance between the rights of individuals and creditors. For individuals filing for bankruptcy, the Act provides a legal framework for obtaining debt relief while safeguarding their basic necessities and ensuring fair treatment throughout the bankruptcy process. It offers protection against creditor harassment, wage garnishments, and legal actions to collect debts. 

The BIA also safeguards the rights of creditors. It requires individuals to fully disclose their financial affairs and it includes provisions to prevent fraudulent or preferential transfers of assets that could disadvantage creditors, ensuring equitable treatment among creditors during insolvency proceedings.

Understanding the Bankruptcy Process in BC

Let’s delve into the bankruptcy process, covering essential steps, required documentation, the timeline involved, and key considerations for life after bankruptcy:

1. Navigating the bankruptcy process:

2. Required Documentation and Information:

3. Timeline of the Bankruptcy Process:

4. Life After Bankruptcy: Rebuilding Financially:

What Happens if You File for Bankruptcy in BC Recap

Understanding bankruptcy in BC is key for anyone struggling with debt. Filing for bankruptcy provides a structured plan for individuals to address overwhelming debt while protecting their rights. 

It is vital that you seek professional advice from a Licensed Insolvency Trustee when exploring options to eliminate debt. LITs offer tailored guidance and support, walking individuals through all available options, from bankruptcy to alternative debt relief solutions like consumer proposals. 

By booking a free consultation with a Licensed Insolvency Trustee, individuals can gain a comprehensive understanding of their financial situation and make informed decisions to achieve long-term financial stability.

Article Written by:

Greg Best, Licensed Insolvency Trustee, Smythe Insolvency

With over two decades of expertise in consumer insolvency, Greg Best leads Smythe’s Insolvency Practice, providing strategic debt-elimination solutions to individuals and families. A graduate of the Chartered Insolvency and Restructuring Program (CAIRP), Greg’s career includes significant roles such as Vice President at PricewaterhouseCoopers LLP’s Advisory Services practice before his current position as Partner at Smythe. Greg is dedicated to the firm’s mission of fostering better financial futures, utilizing his vast professional knowledge and a personal approach to aid clients in becoming debt-free. Residing in Vancouver, BC, Greg is an avid adventurer who enjoys exploring the great outdoors with his family.