Warning Signs

If you frequently pay bills after their due date, regularly bounce cheques or receive calls from a collection agency, you may be carrying more debt than you can handle. Now is the time to take action. Depending on your personal circumstances and the size of your debt, you have several options to help you better manage your money and debt.

The starting point: A budget

A budget is a tool that allows you to take control of your personal finances. It can help you make the best use of your income, plan for the future and, most importantly, know exactly where and how your money is being spent. The Financial Consumer Agency of Canada has a Budget Calculator to help you make a realistic budget. You may also download a paper version of a budget worksheet from the Take Charge of your Debts tool. Choose, “Before going further” then “Rework your budget”.

Budget / Credit Counselling

If you are struggling financially and feel that you need help, consider talking to a budget advisor or credit counsellor. A counsellor will help you establish a realistic plan for managing your money and offer suggestions to help you get out of debt.

  • You can use a counselling service even when you do not currently have any problems. Such services are there to help you with financial strategies to avoid trouble in the future.
  • Many community and consumer organizations offer this service for free or for only a small fee, although it is often possible to find no-cost options, for those services.
  • Private organizations may charge a fee. Make sure to get details about these fees. Is the first consultation free? What about the costs for any subsequent consultations?
  • If a debt consolidation or debt management plan is proposed to you, double-check before signing anything. What will be the total costs (they may be built into your overall monthly payment)? How much of your payments will go directly to reducing your debt?
  • What is the length of the program that you are committing to and what are the terms and conditions (for example, if you want to opt out)? Be wary of any counsellor who pressures you to sign up for such a plan, without first taking the time to fully evaluate your situation and discuss options.

Take your time when choosing a counsellor. There are people who appear to be offering to help but may end up taking advantage of your vulnerability. Call your provincial or territorial consumer affairs office for help or the Better Business Bureau to see whether any complaints have been filed against the person or company you are considering.

For more information on debt, go to:

  • The Collection Agencies section in the Handbook
  • Take Charge of your Debts
  • Be Informed About Debt

For those who declare bankruptcy, the Office of the Superintendent of Bankruptcy works to ensure that the bankruptcy process is conducted in a fair and orderly manner. Under certain circumstances the Office will assist debtors in finding a trustee in bankruptcy. It also investigates complaints from debtors regarding a possible wrong. You may contact an office in your area.

Credit/Budget Counselling Services

Information on other non-profit organizations than those listed below and for-profit companies that provide credit counselling services can be found in your local phone book.

Credit Counselling Canada

This is a national association of not-for-profit credit counselling agencies. Its members serve all provinces and territories.



This is a registered charity that represents a network of not-for-profit credit counselling agencies across the province.

Ontario Association of Credit Counselling Services
Toll Free: 1-888-746-3328


Coalition des associations de consommateurs du Québec

The Coalition is a province-wide group of consumer associations of which 22 organizations that provide credit counselling services are members.

Suite 393
1600 De Lorimier Avenue

Montréal, Quebec  H2K 3W5

Telephone: 514-362-8623
Toll Free: 1-877-962-2227
Fax: 514-598-5863


Union des consommateurs

Union des consommateurs was created in 2002 by the merger of the Fédération des Association coopérative d’économie familiale and Action réseau consommateur. The mandate of the Union des consommateurs is to protect consumers and advocate for their rights and interests. The group especially gives a strong public voice to consumers with low and moderate incomes.

6226 St-Hubert Street

Montréal, Quebec  H2S 2M2

Telephone: 514-521-6820
Toll Free: 1-888-521-6820
Fax: 514-521 0736


Provincial Government Credit Counselling Services

Provincial Mediation Board

Suite 120
2151 Scarth Street

Regina, Saskatchewan  S4P 2H8

Telephone: 306-787-5387
Toll Free: 1-888-215-2222
Fax: 306-787-5574
Fax 2: 1-888-867-7776


Provincial Mediation Board

Main Floor
Sturdy Stone Building
122-3rd Avenue North

Saskatoon, Saskatchewan  S7K 2H6

Telephone: 306-933-6520
Fax: 306-933-7030

Nova Scotia

This program is provided by Service Nova Scotia and Municipal Relations.

Debtor Assistance Program
Telephone: 902-424-5200
Toll Free: 1-800-670-4357


Office of the Superintendent of Bankruptcy

National Headquarters

4th Floor
155 Queen Street

Ottawa, Ontario  K1A 0H5

Telephone: 613-941-1000
Fax: 613-941-2862


Provincial/Territorial Offices of the Superintendent of Bankruptcy


Standard Life Tower
639 Fifth Avenue SW
Suite 510

Calgary, Alberta  T2P 0M9

Telephone: 403-292-5607
Fax: 403-292-5188


Canada Place Building
9700 Jasper Avenue
Suite 725

Edmonton, Alberta  T5J 4C3

Telephone: 780-495-2476
Fax: 780-495-2466

British Columbia

300 Georgia Street W
Suite 2000

Vancouver, British Columbia  V6B 6E1

Telephone: 604-666-5007
Fax: 604-666-4610


400 St. Mary Avenue

Winnipeg, Manitoba  R3C 4K5

Telephone: 204-983-3229
Fax: 204-983-8904

Nova Scotia

Maritime Centre
1505 Barrington Street
16th Floor

Halifax, Nova Scotia  B3J 3K5

Telephone: 902-426-2900
Fax: 902-426-7275


Place Bell Building
160 Elgin Street
Suite B-100

Ottawa, Ontario  K2P 2P7

Telephone: 613-995-2994
Fax: 613-996-0949


25 St. Clair Avenue E
6th Floor

Toronto, Ontario  M4T 1M2

Telephone: 416-973-6486
Fax: 416-973-7440


Federal Building
55 Bay Street N

Hamilton, Ontario  L8R 3P7

Telephone: 905-572-2847
Fax: 905-572-4066


Federal Building
451 Talbot Street
Suite 303

London, Ontario  N6A 5C9

Telephone: 519-645-4034
Fax: 519-645-5139


1141 Route de l’Église
4th Floor

Québec, Quebec  G1V 3W5

Telephone: 418-648-4280
Fax: 418-648-4120


5 Place Ville-Marie
Suite 800

Montréal, Quebec  H3B 2G2

Telephone: 514-283-6192
Fax: 514-283-9795


1945 Hamilton Street
Suite 600

Regina, Saskatchewan  S4P 2C7

Telephone: 306-780-5391
Fax: 306-780-6947


123 Second Avenue S

Saskatoon, Saskatchewan  S7K 7E6

Telephone: 306-975-4298
Fax: 306-975-5317

Provincial and Territorial Consumer Affairs Offices


Service Alberta, Consumer Contact Centre
3rd Floor Commerce Place
10155-102 Street

Edmonton, Alberta  T5J 4L4

Telephone: 780-427-4088
Toll Free: 1-877-427-4088


British Columbia

Consumer Protection BC
#307-3450 Uptown Blvd
PO Box 9244

Victoria, British Columbia  V8W 9J2

Telephone: 604-320-1667
Toll Free: 1-888-564-9963
Fax: 250-920-7181



Consumer Protection Office, Manitoba Justice
302-258 Portage Avenue

Winnipeg, Manitoba  R3C 0B6

Telephone: 204-945-3800
Toll Free: 1-800-782-0067
Fax: 204-945-0728


New Brunswick

Financial and Consumer Services Commission
225 King Street, Suite 200

Fredericton, New Brunswick  E3B 1E1

Toll Free: 1-866-933-2222
Fax: 506-444-4494


Newfoundland and Labrador

Service NL
PO Box 8700

St. John’s, Newfoundland and Labrador  A1B 4J6

Telephone: 709-729-2600
Toll Free: 1-877-968-2600
Fax: 709-729-6998


Northwest Territories

Consumer Affairs, Department of Municipal and Community Affairs
5201-50th Avenue, Suite 600
PO Box 1320

Yellowknife, Northwest Territories  X1A 2L9

Telephone: 867-767-9161 ext 21022
Fax: 867-873-0309


Nova Scotia

Service Nova Scotia and Municipal Relations, Public Enquiries
Mail Room, 8 South
Maritime Centre
1505 Barrington Street

Halifax, Nova Scotia  B3J 3K5

Telephone: 902-424-5200
Toll Free: 1-800-670-4357
Fax: 902-424-0720



Consumer Affairs, Department of Community and Government Services
3090 – 9th Street
P.O. Box 440

Baker Lake, Nunavut  X0C 0A0

Telephone: 867-793-3303
Toll Free: 1-866-223-8139
Fax: 867-793-3321



Consumer Protection Ontario, Ministry of Government and Consumer Services
Box 450
1201 Wilson Ave, Station A

Toronto, Ontario  M3M 1J8

Telephone: 416-326-8800
Toll Free: 1-800-889-9768
Phone (TTY): 416-229-6086
Phone (TTY) 2: 1-877-666-6545
Fax: 416-326-8665


Prince Edward Island

Consumer Services, Department of Justice and Public Safety
Shaw Building, 4th Floor
95 Rochford Street
PO Box 2000

Charlottetown, Prince Edward Island  C1A 7N8

Telephone: 902-368-4580
Telephone: 902-368-4550
Toll Free: 1-800-658-1799
Fax: 902-368-5283



Office de la protection du consommateur
400 Jean-Lesage Boulevard, Suite 450

Québec, Quebec  G1K 8W4

Telephone: 418-643-1484
Toll Free: 1-888-672-2556
Fax: 418-528-0976



Consumer Services, Department of Community Services
307 Black Street

Whitehorse, Yukon  Y1A 2N1

Telephone: 867-667-5111
Toll Free: 1-800-661-0408 ext. 5111
Fax: 867-667-3609


Better Business Bureaus

Better Business Bureau of Mainland B.C.

788 Beatty Street, Suite 404

Vancouver, British Columbia  V6B 2M1

Telephone: 604-682-2711
Fax: 604-681-1544


Better Business Bureau of Vancouver Island

220-1175 Cook Street

Victoria, British Columbia  V8V 4A1

Telephone: 250-386-6348
Toll Free: 1-877-826-4222
Fax: 250-386-2367

Website: bbb.org/en/ca/local-bbb/bbb-serving-vancouver-island

Better Business Bureau of Southern Alberta and East Kootenay

#5, 1709 8 Avenue NE

Calgary, Alberta  T2E 0S9

Telephone: 403-531-8784
Fax: 403-640-2514


Better Business Bureau of Central and Northern Alberta

16102 100 Avenue NW

Edmonton, Alberta  T5P 0L3

Telephone: 780-482-2341
Toll Free: 1-800-232-7298
Fax: 780-482-1150


Better Business Bureau of Saskatchewan

980 Albert Street

Regina, Saskatchewan  S4R 2P7

Telephone: 306-352-7601
Toll Free: 1-888-352-7601
Fax: 306-565-6236

Website: bbb.org/en/ca/local-bbb/bbb-of-saskatchewan

Better Business Bureau Serving Manitoba and Northwestern Ontario

1030 B Empress Street

Winnipeg, Manitoba  R3G 3H4

Telephone: 204-989-9010
Toll Free: 1-800-385-3074
Fax: 204-989-9016


Better Business Bureau Serving Western Ontario

206-190 Wortley Road

London, Ontario  N6C 4Y7

Telephone: 519-673-3222
Toll Free: 1-877-283-9222
Fax: 519-673-5966

Website: bbb.org/en/ca/local-bbb/bbb-serving-western-ontario

Better Business Bureau Serving Central Ontario

903 – 30 Duke Street West

Kitchener, Ontario  N2H 3W5

Telephone: 519-579-3080
Toll Free: 1-800-459-8875
Fax: 519-570-0072


Better Business Bureau of Eastern, Northern Ontario and the Outaouais

505-700 Industrial Avenue

Ottawa, Ontario  K1G 0Y9

Telephone: 613-237-4856
Toll Free: 1-877-859-8566
Fax: 613-237-4878


Better Business Bureau Serving the Atlantic Provinces

7071 Bayers Road, Suite 279

Halifax, Nova Scotia  B3L 2C2

Telephone: 902-422-6581
Fax: 902-429-6457

Website: bbb.org/en/ca/local-bbb/better-business-bureau-serving-the-atlantic-provinces