Personal Bankruptcy, bankruptcy alternatives, Bankruptcy and Insolvency Act, Canadian bankruptcy, Consumer Proposal, consumer proposals, credit counselling, credit score, Debt, debt consolidation, licensed bankruptcy trustee, licensed trustee, receivership, receivership in bankruptcy, starting over starting now, Toronto bankruptcy trustee, trustee

Personal bankruptcy is rarely spoken of in a positive light, yet for some it can be a great beginning. Here’s a truly inspirational story of a new beginning from the files of Ira Smith Trustee & Receiver Inc.

Molly (not her real name) was a 41 year old woman who was married with one child. She was well educated and had been a high school chemistry teacher. Sadly, she became an alcoholic and her life fell into ruin. Alcohol had taken over her life and she could no longer work as a teacher. Now unemployed she resorted to using credit cards to buy alcohol and before long her credit cards were maxxed out.

She needed to work to pay for her habit so she went back to community college to become a law clerk. Molly found work as a law clerk but she couldn’t give up drinking. Alcohol was destroying her work life and her personal life. She continued to max out her credit cards and previously obtained lines of credit. To make matters worse Molly couldn’t afford to pay her income tax liability which was greater than what was deducted at source by her employer.

Molly needed to rid herself of her debts so she came to us to file for personal bankruptcy. We knew that for Molly to truly get a fresh start she needed to deal with her alcoholism. We insisted that she join AA if she wanted us to support her discharge from personal bankruptcy. Molly joined AA, attended meetings and stopped drinking. She ultimately became a sponsor to other AA members.

Molly really turned her life around. She stopped drinking, joined AA and lived within her means. As a result of her willingness for overall rehabilitation the Trustee recommended that Molly obtain an absolute discharge from personal bankruptcy, which she did. Molly’s whole life improved including her relationship with her family.

Personal bankruptcy was the start of a great new beginning for Molly and if you’re facing serious debt problems it can be for you too. Contact Ira Smith Trustee & Receiver Inc. today and Starting Over, Starting Now you can turn your life around too.


restructuring and turnaround, corporate restructuring and turnaround, restructuring and turnaround proposal, debt, bankruptcy, trustee, insolvency and restructuring plan, bankruptcy and insolvency act, BIA, starting over starting nowRestructuring and turnaround services can produce great benefits as long as the company recognizes early enough that it has problems.  As the holidays approach, we want to hear feel good stories.  Here is a great feel good story.

There are good news financial stories out there and here is one from the files of Ira Smith Trustee & Receiver Inc. If caught early enough, we can save companies and jobs through corporate restructuring and turnaround services, and avoid bankruptcy.

The Company: Professional services company which had been in business for 16 years and was in need of restructuring and turnaround services.

 Hard Assets: Negligible.

 How The Company got Into Trouble: The principal’s husband was travelling on business for an extended period and she decided to take leave from her business. Rather than using technology, both new and old, to supervise the business while travelling and maintaining financial control throughout, she delegated all responsibility to senior management and senior staff. In the principal’s absence the senior management made a series of decisions that put the Company in serious jeopardy:

  • They leased extra space expecting the need to hire more staff to meet the anticipated increased business, but that business never came.
  • Their rent and staffing costs were too high.
  • Notwithstanding the increased staffing and staffing costs, they also outsourced more work than before.
  • The total costs and liabilities were increasing rapidly while revenue was declining.
  • They neglected to pay the payroll source deductions throughout and a secured claim to CRA arose in excess of $500,000.

Through a combination of incompetence and foul play, the senior management and staff encumbered the business with too much debt and had created a situation where many of the firm’s top clients were about to bolt.  Without the intervention of a well planned yet swiftly implemented restructuring and turnaround plan, the company would surely die.

Upon the principal’s return, she sought the advice of her accountant and lawyer and was referred to us. The principal suspected the senior management’s actions were taken with a view to harm the company so that certain members of the senior management team could start their own firm and take certain staff members with them. It became clear to us that this company was a candidate for a restructuring and turnaround, not a candidate for bankruptcy.  Working with the principal, we quickly devised and began implementing the restructuring and turnaround using a Proposal under the Bankruptcy and Insolvency Act (Canada) (“BIA”). 

Restructuring & Turnaround: The Company was in the BIA Restructuring and Turnaround Mode for about 1.5 years.

  • The principal worked very diligently through the Proposal process to maintain the trust of key customers.
  • She was able to give back a portion of the premises to the landlord, thereby reducing premises leasing costs.
  • She terminated unnecessary staffing, including those senior staff that was responsible for the decline of the company. The staff did launch a wrongful dismissal suit but that litigation was settled within the Proposal process.
  • After about 1 year the Company was able to change Banks and obtain a more favourable financing package.

The restructuring and turnaround plan was in place and working!

The Result: Through the Restructuring and Turnaround Proposal, the company was able to amass sufficient cash to pay off in full the source deduction trust claim in excess of $500K and they successfully completed their Proposal by paying an additional amount of $250,000 to compromise $1.2 million of unsecured debt. The Company to this date continues to operate profitably, provides employment and also contributes in other ways to the community.  The restructuring and turnaround plan worked!

Serious financial problems don’t have to mean the end for a company. There are solutions other than bankruptcy. Corporate restructuring and turnaround is one of them. Contact Ira Smith Trustee & Receiver Inc. today.  If caught early enough, we can save companies and jobs through corporate restructuring and turnaround services, and avoid bankruptcy Starting Over, Starting Now.

Are you, or your company in need of a restructuring and turnaround?  If so, don’t procrastinate; contact Ira Smith Trustee & Receiver Inc. now!



RENT-TO-OWN OFFERS ARE REALLY EXPENSIVE DEBT, rent-to-own, living paycheque to paycheque, the Canadian Consumer Handbook, debt, trustee, starting over starting now, bankruptcy canada faqRent-to-own offers sound great, but beware, because it is another form of very expensive borrowing.  At this time of year we tend to shop much more than any other time on the calendar. And, from time to time we come across a great deal on a new television, or computer or piece of furniture but the credit cards are already close to their limit and there’s not much available cash. You’re about to walk away but then the salesperson tells you that they have a rent-to-own program and it sounds perfect! But, what the salesperson isn’t telling you is that rent-to-own can be VERY expensive. The reality is that the rental charge can amount to three or four times what it would cost to pay cash or finance the purchase on an installment plan.

According to a CBC News investigation, Canadians spend $260 million every year for rent-to-own products, often paying exorbitant prices that would not be allowed in some U.S. states. Canada lags behind the U.S., where the majority of states have enacted laws to protect rent-to-own customers by requiring more transparent advertising. Five states have actual price controls. Not a single Canadian province has followed suit with specific rent-to-own legislation. Rent-to-own targets low-income and credit-constrained consumers who are living paycheque to paycheque by offering low weekly and monthly payments for household goods.

Before considering rent-to-own, The Canadian Consumer Handbook has suggested four questions to ask yourself:

  1. Is the item something I absolutely have to have right now?
  2. Can I delay the purchase until I have saved enough money to pay cash?
  3. Have I considered all my credit options, including applying for retail credit from the merchant or borrowing money from a credit union or bank?
  4. Would a used item purchased from a garage sale, classified ad or second-hand store serve the purpose just as well as something new?

Don’t sign a rent-to-own contract without calculating what it’s really going to cost you and ask yourself if it’s really worth it. Getting into more debt is not the way out of debt. You need professional help to solve your debt issues. Contact Ira Smith Trustee & Receiver Inc. We can help you get back on solid financial footing so that Starting Over, Starting Now you’ll be well on your way to conquering debt.  Check out our bankruptcy Canada faq yourself to start finding answers.



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Image courtesy of Canadian Broadcasting Corporation

Financial trouble; today’s cashless purchasing options can lead you there.  Gone are the days when people walked around with big wads of cash in their pocket. Things have changed so dramatically that now we often find ourselves with no cash at all.

We have wallets full of reloadable coffee cards and credit cards and technology has now enabled us to make payments with our smartphones. The problem is that keeping track of our spending has become very difficult.  If we are not on top of our spending and making sure that we are not spending more than we earn, financial trouble will find us.

In the good old days we paid for everything with cash. We knew exactly what we were spending and sticking to a budget was much easier. Impulse buying was virtually impossible.  Shopping digitally or with plastic is somewhat unreal. And, it’s becoming easier and quicker. Paying with smartphones is becoming more and more prevalent and smartwatch payments will soon be readily available.

Even shopping with plastic has gone high tech; we no longer sign credit card receipts; we tap and we’re done. It really doesn’t feel like a financial transaction anymore. You see something that appeals and wave a smartphone at it or tap a credit card and it’s yours. We’re spending more on purchases that are virtual and we’re losing control of our spending – hence financial trouble.

I know it’s old fashioned, but try using cash for a while. Any time you make a purchase, take real money out of your pocket. You may find the impulse to buy is not quite so great. Credit cards and digital payments are convenient, but it’s very easy to lose control and you may find yourself in financial trouble.

If you’re now in financial trouble because you’ve lost control of your spending, you need professional help. Contact Ira Smith Trustee & Receiver Inc. as soon as possible. The earlier you deal with debt, the more options you’ll have. We approach every file with the attitude that your financial problems can be solved given immediate action and the right plan so that Starting Over, Starting Now you can take the first step towards a debt free life.



Millennials, Gen Y, debt, student loans, credit card debt, credit counselling, debt consolidation, consumer proposals, bankruptcy, millennial home ownership, starting over starting nowMillennial home ownership may be out of reach because there is no doubt that Millennials are struggling with debt and it’s a serious issue. We’ve addressed this problem in two previous blogs – Millennials Debt; A Plan for Escape and Gen Y Trapped: Millennials in Debt. For those of you unfamiliar with the term Millennial, the Census Canada definition is kids born between 1977 and 1994. In Canada Millennials represent a large group; they make up approximately 27% of the population. And unfortunately they also have a lot of debt, the majority of which is student loans and a good proportion can also be attributed to credit card debt.

As a result of student debt, credit card debt and lower than anticipated salaries, many Millennials can’t even dream of buying a house and millennial home ownership is a fading dream. In fact, many can’t even afford an apartment and are living at home with their parents or sharing an apartment with multiple roommates. This situation has affected more than just the Millennials and their families; the lack of millennial home ownership has seriously impacted the housing market. “The first-time homebuyer is really absent from the market,” says David Crowe, the chief economist for the National Association of Home Builders. He says only 16% of new-home sales are to first-time homebuyers. That is half of normal. And in terms of the numbers of new homes getting built, “We’re not even halfway back,” Crowe says. This phenomenon will eventually rebound, but it will take time.  Millennials will need to feel comfortable that their debt reduction plans are working before millennial home ownership, and therefore a large group of first-time home buyers, will again be able to enter the real estate market.

Millennials need help dealing with debt. Maxing out credit cards is not a solution. If you’re a Millennial in debt, you need professional help. Responsible hard working millennials deserve to have millennial home ownership included in their reality.

Contact Ira Smith Trustee & Receiver Inc. With sound professional advice and a solid plan in place, you can conquer debt. There are many ways to deal with debt which include credit counselling, debt consolidation, consumer proposals and bankruptcy. It may sound ominous, but the Ira Smith team will guide you through the process and Starting Over, Starting Now you can live a debt free life and plan for your future.


debts, debt, retirement, credit counselling, credit card debt, line of credit, trustee, starting over starting now, seniors acquiring more debtSeniors acquiring more debt seems to be more the norm than the commercials featuring retirees driving convertible sports cars, travelling to exotic locations and wining and dining in upscale restaurants, you’ve no doubt watched. The question that seniors acquiring more debt must be asked is will debts prevent your retirement?

Seniors acquiring more debt are not going to be living the life of luxury depicted on television. How many of you are drowning in so much debt that retirement isn’t even an option? According to the BMO Retirement Institute debt is the number one barrier preventing Canadians from saving for retirement and that their priority should be to retire free of debt, including a home mortgage.

The reality is:

  • National Foundation for Credit Counseling says one-third of its 3 million clients last year were 55 or older.
  • More than 41% of families with heads of household between age 55 and 64 had credit card debt in 2010 (up from 33% in 1989), according to the AARP Public Policy Institute and the Demos research group.
  • The median total debt for 55- to 64-year-old households is $76,600, says the Employee Benefits Research Institute.

Among those retired Canadians with debt, a Harris/Decima poll for CIBC found:

  • 37% are juggling two or more debt payments a month
  • 39% are carrying credit card debt
  • 30% have debt on their line of credit
  • 16% are carrying debt on their mortgage, and
  • 14% have loan debt

What should seniors acquiring more debt, or anyone with too much debt, to get debt under control? Make a budget, stick to it and pay down high interest debt like credit card debt. If these measures are not enough to deal with your debt issues, you need professional help.

Seniors acquiring more debt should contact a professional trustee as soon as possible. The Ira Smith team are here to help. With a cumulative 50+ years of experience, we deliver the highest quality of professional service. We offer practical advice so you can clearly see the way to move forward Starting Over, Starting Now. Contact Ira Smith Trustee & Receiver Inc. today.


Canada Revenue Agency, CRA, CRA audit, social media, social media sites, Facebook, LinkedIn, Instagram, Pinterest, trustee, income tax debt, debt, trustee, starting over starting now, Canada revenue agency social media, receiverCanada Revenue Agency social media investigative staff review your latest photos and news on social media sites that you post to. Did you know that? If you do post to social media sites and you did not know that Canada Revenue Agency social media investigative staff may be looking at your postings, then you’re like most of the adults online.

Sharing everything from your marital status to what you’re eating at a restaurant on social media sites has become second nature. We have a great need to share, without giving it a second thought. According to Pew Internet Research, as of September 2013:

  • 71% of online adults use Facebook
  • 17% use Instagram
  • 21% use Pinterest
  • 22% use LinkedIn

You may think that participating in social media is a harmless activity and you may even post some white lies, but after all, the Internet encourages creativity. And, who could it hurt anyways? The answer is you! It’s not just your friends checking out your Facebook page, the Canada Revenue Agency (CRA) may be checking you out as well. The Canada Revenue Agency social media investigative staff use an audit technique called Indirect Verification of Income.

The CRA is on the lookout for folks living a high income life – big house, fancy cars, and exotic vacations – without reporting the income to sustain such a lifestyle. This kind of behaviour is a huge red flag for the CRA and you could be in for an audit. Rest assured that the CRA, including the Canada Revenue Agency social media investigative staff which is an  increasingly important component of the investigation side, will leave no stone unturned in search of the unreported income.

We had an interesting file that demonstrated exactly how deep in trouble you many find yourself if you post everything on social media sites, and lie. A high income earner was trying through a Proposal to compromise $400K of his income tax debt (amongst others). Throughout his entire professional career he had photos of himself in front of yachts, mansions and fancy cars to show how successful he was. The only problem was that none of it was ever his. It took a year to convince the CRA that neither he nor his spouse ever owned such assets!! Ultimately we were successful in satisfying CRA’s concerns and the CRA voted in favour of his Proposal.

Before you post your life story on social media sites, ask yourself what the Canada Revenue Agency social media investigative staff will think if they crawl your pages.

If you’re having serious financial issues related to income tax debt or any other cause, contact Ira Smith Trustee & Receiver Inc. With a solid financial plan in place Starting Over, Starting Now you can free yourself of debt.


non-compete clause, enforceable non-compete clause, non-compete, owed wages, bankruptcy, owes you wages, debt, Bankruptcy and Insolvency Act, financial restructuring, trustee, starting over starting now

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Ignoring a non-compete clause can be very tempting, especially if you left your employer feeling that you weren’t given proper notice or that you were owed wages or commissions. Don’t let this type of situation cloud your better judgement because ignoring an enforceable non-compete clause can be very costly. Even bankruptcy won’t discharge you of this debt.

Recently there was an action that demonstrates clearly why not to ignore a non-compete clause. An employer terminated its agreement with one of its associates. Although a non-compete clause was in place, the associate chose to ignore it and continued doing business with several of his former boss’s customers or former customers. The employer brought action against his former associate to recover losses allegedly sustained as a result of the former associate ignoring the non-compete clause in his contract and therefore breaching his agreement with his former employer.

The claim under the judgement the employer obtained against the former associate for loss of profits was not discharged by the former associate’s bankruptcy, given that it was ruled to be a debt incurred for breach of fiduciary duty, which is a type of debt not discharged under section 178(1) of the Bankruptcy and Insolvency Act (Canada).

Don’t let your emotions cloud your better judgement. Even if you think your former employer owes you wages, ignoring an enforceable non-compete clause is not the answer. As you can see by this action, whether you leave an employer voluntarily or otherwise, if there is an enforceable non-compete clause in place, and you take customers away from your former employer during the non-compete period, not only can they obtain a judgement for the lost profits, bankruptcy also won’t discharge you of that debt.

For more information on this or any issue related to insolvency or bankruptcy contact Ira Smith Trustee & Receiver Inc. We’re an insolvency and financial restructuring practice for individuals and companies in the Greater Toronto Area (GTA) facing financial crisis. Our speciality is serving individuals and the private company entrepreneurial market, regardless of size. If you’re experiencing financial difficulties, we can help you recover financially Starting Over, Starting Now.


living paycheque to paycheque, living paycheck to paycheck, bankruptcy, alternatives to bankruptcy, credit counselling, debt consolidation, consumer proposals, starting over starting now, trustee, high earners, norma walton, ronauld waltonIt may surprise you to learn that high earners, earning a six figure salary is not a guarantee of financial stability or security. A big house, luxury cars and exotic vacations frequently don’t tell the real story. You may be looking at a lot of smoke and mirrors. Often these high earners become victims of their own success.

The costs of maintaining a high flying lifestyle eventually becomes too great and a debt spiral begins. No one is immune. Famous actors and actresses, lawyers, doctors and captains of industry file for bankruptcy just like the working poor living paycheque to paycheque. According to the Wall Street Journal “some high earners end up leading a lifestyle that they can barely afford, saving little or nothing for retirement and living paycheck to paycheck”.

This problem appears to be global, with no sign of letting up. In fact we reported on it last year in two blogs titled “Is Canada’s 1% Immune from Insolvency or Bankruptcy?” and Famous Celebrity Bankruptcies Happen Too. A recent study at Princeton University calls this phenomena “wealthy hand-to-mouth”. The study reports that the wealthy hand-to-mouth behave in many respects like households with little or no net worth. So, whether you’re a high earner or have little or no net worth, if you’re living paycheque to paycheque, you’re in the same boat and your options are the same.

If you are one of the high earners, or just a normal person, the time to end the spiral of debt is now. There is no time to waste. Debt doesn’t go away on its own. You need professional help and a sound plan for moving forward. Contact Ira Smith Trustee & Receiver Inc. We’re a full service insolvency and financial restructuring practice serving companies and individuals throughout the Greater Toronto Area (GTA) facing financial crisis or bankruptcy that need a plan for Starting Over, Starting Now.

There are alternatives to bankruptcycredit counselling, debt consolidation and consumer proposals or ultimately bankruptcy may be the answer – for both high earners and normal people.  Don’t make living paycheque to paycheque a lifestyle. Call us today and take the first step towards a debt free life.


bankruptcy trustees, financial distress, financial tool, bankruptcy, too much debt, collection letters, collection calls, bankruptcy alternatives, personal bankruptcy, Bankruptcy and Insolvency Act, bankruptcy legislation, corporate bankruptcy, bankruptcy protection, Air Canada bankruptcy, American Airlines bankruptcy, consumer proposal, starting over starting now, bankruptcy trusteeBankruptcy trustees advise people in financial distress to think of bankruptcy as just another financial tool.  Bankruptcy still carries a stigma with it for many people, but if you have too much debt, cannot repay your debts and are afraid to open the mail or answer the phone because of all the collection letters and collection calls you receive, you need to take some positive step to eliminate this stress in your life by finding a responsible and realistic solution.

Bankruptcy trustees will tell you that none of their clients wanted to call and for sure did not wish to see them.  People come to bankruptcy trustees feeling ashamed, guilty and worthless.  It is normal to feel that you have failed in such circumstances, but it is also important for your emotional and financial well-being to think of bankruptcy or one of the various bankruptcy alternatives as another financial tool and to use one of these tools to fix the situation for yourself.

Our media promotes the feeling that personal bankruptcy is somehow equated with failure, instead of it being described as merely a negative financial outcome for the honest, but unfortunate person.  Everyone deserves a second chance, and using bankruptcy, or one of the bankruptcy alternatives is a way to get that second chance.  Many people have done so in the past, and many will do so in the future; that is why Parliament created the laws forming our bankruptcy legislation, the Bankruptcy and Insolvency Act.  Keep in mind, many famous people have previously filed for bankruptcy.

It is interesting that our media casts personal bankruptcy in a negative light, but shows corporate bankruptcy protection as something positive.  When we heard years ago about Air Canada filing for bankruptcy protection, or more recently, American Airlines filing for bankruptcy, people did not stop flying the airlines because they were disgusted that a company would dare to make use of the bankruptcy financial tool, but rather, people were worried about whether or not they would lose any of their airline point privileges!

Why can’t we think of personal bankruptcy as the same positive step forward financial tool in dealing with an unfortunate situation?

Bankruptcy trustees are the people licensed by the Government of Canada to administer the provisions of the Bankruptcy and Insolvency Act.  Bankruptcy trustees need to obtain a full understanding of your assets and liabilities and understand your personal situation in order to advise whether you should go bankrupt, or if you are a candidate for a consumer proposal instead.  No doubt people seeking the assistance of bankruptcy trustees have many questions needing to be answered also.

Are you suffering financially for any reason? Don’t be ashamed; contact Ira Smith Trustee & Receiver Inc. Debt won’t go away on its own. You need professional help Starting Over, Starting Now so that you can regain your dignity and resume on a path to debt free living.

Watch this 5 minute video to listen to how another bankruptcy trustee explains it.