It is an absolutely distressing statistic that in 2019 Cape Breton Island (CBI) again nearly tripled the national average on consumer bankruptcy and accompanying consumer insolvency are more than double. Nationally, in 2018 and 2019, Canadian consumers stood at 1.9 and 1.8 per thousand having filed bankruptcy, versus in CBI the figures for 2018 and 2019 are 5.7 and 5.2. When you factor in those who avoided bankruptcy by registering a formal repayment proposal CBI’s total numbers jump to 10.5 and 10.9 in 2018 and 2019 respectively, up yearly from 10.2 in 2017.
In comparison, both Halifax and PEI (CBI’s sister colony) stand at 5.9 and 6.1 per thousand consumer insolvency rates which are approximately half the level CBI is experiencing. Numbers like these along with CBI’s chronic child poverty and perennially high unemployment are indicative of our economic woes not being addressed, over time. These social financial health indicators for CBI are ridiculously high and are tell-tale of underlying causes non-existing in other areas of our country.
Obviously, detrimentally and sadly, CBI is plagued by a critical systemic fiscal imbalance. We remain essentially indentured as a colony of Nova Scotia, for the benefit of our resources and revenues we provide.
Whereas Halifax nor Ottawa seem able over the past half-century to remedy our island’s decline, I call for the formation of a Cape Breton Island Commission, with representation from our local governments (CBI municipalities and Miqmaq nations) to hold consultations across our island and to set the course of self-governance for our people.