Credit and Debt Counselling Societies
Government student loans are not usually handled in Canada by most credit/debt counselling societies or independent companies. But these services could help reduce the pressure of your student loans by helping you deal with your other debts.
Large student loans, for example, often lead to problems with “consumer debts,” such as credit cards. These “consumer debts” are normally handled by any credit/debt service, whether a society or an independent company.
While societies and independent credit counselling firms may each offer the same services, societies may be able to provide a service for free, due to funding arrangements such as “Fair Share.” In Fair Share-type arrangements, banks, stores and other creditors return to societies a share of the money that is paid to creditors by society clients.
Such arrangements are debated in the US more than in Canada, but as a client, you’re free to ask who the society or company works for, how it gets funded and what costs you'd pay, if any. You can also check their records with the Better Business Bureau.
Since initial consultations are usually free, whether with societies or independent companies, you should be able to make an informed decision before committing yourself to any program.
For logistical reasons, the list below omits the many independent (for-profit) credit counselling firms across Canada.
Although private counselling firms sometimes take a hefty slice of your budget for their services, this is not to suggest they're all the same. (In the interest of disclosure, the for-profit firm Solutions Credit Counselling Services, in return for ads and other services, made some donations between 2006 and 2008.)
So in future, we may also list independents. But for now, we'll just list non-profits, running east to west across Canada. (The Territories are listed with the Alberta and BC agencies operating there.)
Newfoundland and Labrador
Credit Counselling Services of Atlantic Canada, Inc. (also in PEI, New Brunswick and Newfoundland)
Prince Edward Island
Community Financial Counselling Services (Winnipeg)
Not long ago, a number of provincial governments offered a free service like this. Those in Saskatchewan are still in luck, with budgeting advice, debt counselling and possible help with creditor repayment plans, property tax arrears, commercial evictions and residential mortgage foreclosures.
Money Mentors / Credit Counselling Services of
Alberta (also in Northwest and Nunavut Territories)
Credit Counselling Society This society also operates in Alberta, Saskatchewan, Manitoba and Yukon, Northwest and Nunavut Territories. Counselling is free.