When you file for bankruptcy or enter into a consumer proposal, you must attend two in-person financial counselling sessions alongside four online modules.

These sessions are called the Insolvency Counselling Program, part of the insolvency process under the Bankruptcy and Insolvency Act.

Among other things, the program aims to educate you about how to maintain good financial health, so you don’t get into trouble with debts again.

You’ll learn how to manage your finances better, recognize what you need to do differently, and talk about some of the financial pitfalls that may have contributed to your debts previously.

The program is non-judgemental. It’s designed to ensure you have the best chance of a successful fresh start, reducing the likelihood of making the same mistakes in the future.

When you complete the program, it should better equip you to take control of your finances. Be aware that it won’t turn you into a financial expert overnight, and you must continue to learn and adopt good habits.

Once you complete your bankruptcy or consumer proposal, a good place to start is by learning the basics of how credit scores work and how to improve your credit score.

See also: Credit score learning hub

Taught by a BIA Insolvency Counsellor

As part of your bankruptcy or consumer proposal, your Licensed Insolvency Trustee (LIT or trustee) will provide Insolvency Counselling Program sessions.

Typically, these sessions are taught by a BIA Insolvency Counsellor, certified by the Office of the Superintendent of Bankruptcy (OSB).

Your counsellor will have at least 100 hours of experience under the guidance of a Licensed Insolvency Trustee.

Your BIA Insolvency Counsellor will be able to answer any questions you may have and educate you on subjects ranging from money management, spending and shopping habits to using credit sensibly and how to avoid financial difficulties.

Your counsellor will supply you with the knowledge and skills needed to succeed financially, helping you plan for the future.

Note: Occasionally, your trustee may provide the insolvency counselling sessions themselves rather than providing a BIA Insolvency Counsellor.

Are these financial counselling sessions mandatory?

You will not be discharged from bankruptcy or a consumer proposal and released from your debts until these sessions are complete.

What is the Insolvency Counselling Program?

The Insolvency Counselling Program consists of four online modules and two in-person counselling sessions.

The objective of the online modules is to prepare you for your in-person counselling sessions with your BIA Insolvency Counsellor.

The Insolvency Counselling Process

Source: OSB: Insolvency Counselling Program introduction

When you are ready to declare bankruptcy or enter into a consumer proposal, these modules will be explained to you by your trustee.

Stage 1: budgeting

The budgeting stage will start near the beginning of your bankruptcy. You must complete the module within 60 days of the date you went bankrupt.

This stage consists of:

  • one online module
  • one in-person counselling session.

This stage covers the following:

  • an introduction to the counselling program
  • budgeting: how to create and maintain a budget.

This budget is discussed with your BIA Insolvency Counsellor during your in-person counselling session.

Stage 2: planning for the future

You must complete the planning for the future stage within 210 days of the date you went bankrupt.

This stage should build on the knowledge and skills you learned from stage one.

This stage consists of:

  • three online modules
  • one in-person counselling session.

This stage covers the following:

  • setting and achieving financial goals
  • your spending habits
  • using credit responsibly.

During your second in-person counselling session, you will discuss your financial goals with your BIA Insolvency Counsellor.

Source: OSB: Insolvency Counselling Program introduction

Are there fees for the Insolvency Counselling Program?

Insolvency Counselling Program fees of $85 per in-person counselling session are paid from your bankruptcy estate or consumer proposal.

The good news is this fee is at no additional cost to you. Because the program is federally regulated, you can’t be charged directly or charged more than the above costs.

Conclusion

If you file for bankruptcy or enter into a consumer proposal, you must undertake two financial counselling sessions as part of the Insolvency Counselling Program.

Upon completing the program, you will be discharged from your debts.

The Insolvency Counselling Program should allow you to create an action plan to help you maintain good financial health and give you the skills to prevent future financial difficulties.

If you are considering bankruptcy or a consumer proposal, let us connect you with a Licensed Insolvency Trustee.

It’s free, confidential, and there is no obligation.

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