Calgary Sun - - NEWS - SHAWN LO­GAN slo­gan@post­media.com On Twit­ter: @ShawnLo­gan403

More than any other prov­ince, Al­ber­tans are feel­ing the pinch from in­ter­est rate hikes, fear­ing fi­nan­cial trou­ble and a march to­wards bankruptcy should rates con­tinue to rise.

MNP Ltd., Canada's largest per­sonal in­sol­vency prac­tice, re­leased its lat­est con­sumer debt in­dex Mon­day, find­ing Al­ber­tans lead the na­tion in fret­ting over ris­ing in­ter­est rates, with some 55% al­ready feel­ing the im­pact of pre­vi­ous hikes, about 12% more than the na­tional av­er­age.

Adding to those jit­ters is a sense among more than half (52%) of Al­berta re­spon­dents ex­pect they will be in fi­nan­cial trou­ble should rates con­tinue to climb, while 43% fear they'll be forced to con­sider bankruptcy un­der those cir­cum­stances. In all those cases, the Mar­itime prov­inces trail Al­ber­tans with sim­i­lar feel­ings of fi­nan­cial dis­quiet.

Al­ber­tans were also most likely at 20% to rate their per­sonal debt sit­u­a­tion as "ter­ri­ble," com­pared to their pro­vin­cial peers.

MNP pres­i­dent Grant Bazian said the sur­vey of Cana­di­ans shows many are tee­ter­ing on the brink of fi­nan­cial ruin.

“Nearly half of out­stand­ing mort­gages have in­ter­est rate re­newals within a year so monthly mort­gage pay­ments are set to rise for a huge pro­por­tion of peo­ple, But a stag­ger­ing per­cent­age of Cana­di­ans say they al­ready don’t have any wig­gle room at all.”

On al­most ev­ery mea­sure in the poll, re­spon­dents in­di­cated a sig­nif­i­cantly in­creased level of un­ease over their fi­nances than they did six months ago.

Nearly half of those polled (46%) be­lieve they're now $200 or less away from fi­nan­cial in­sol­vency af­ter cov­er­ing bills and debt at the end of the month, one of the few ar­eas in which Al­ber­tans at 41% came in lower than the na­tional av­er­age. Sim­i­larly, 47% of re­spon­dents don't be­lieve they'll be able to cover all their liv­ing and fam­ily ex­penses over the next year with­out plung­ing fur­ther into debt.

“The most alarm­ing thing about the results is just how vul­ner­a­ble Cana­di­ans know they are yet they still plan to amass more debt to cover ba­sic liv­ing ex­penses,” Bazian said.

"House­holds cur­rently show­ing signs of fi­nan­cial dif­fi­culty and liv­ing on credit are about to fall into a debt trap if in­ter­est rates con­tinue to rise or if they face an un­ex­pected ex­pense."

De­spite the gloomy out­look for many, a third of those sur­veyed ex­pect their debt sit­u­a­tion to im­prove a year from now and nearly half (47%) be­lieve they'll be in a bet­ter po­si­tion five years from now.

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