The number of people filing for bankruptcy in this country is up and it’s even higher in Alberta’s capital, says a city bankruptcy trustee.

Leon Miller, a bankruptcy trustee with Leon Miller Group Inc., says his business has tripled since the markets tumbled last fall.

“There’s been a substantial increase in the number of phone calls, in the number of interviews, and an increase in the number of people who have signed up for bankruptcy,” he said,
Canada has seen more than 117,000 people file for bankruptcy over a 12-month period ending in January 2009, says a new report from the Office of the Superintendent of Bankruptcy Canada. That’s a 15.8 per cent increase compared to the previous 12 months and the number is more than likely higher in Edmonton, says Miller.

“Edmonton was very sheltered against problems in the last couple of years, and anyone who wanted a job could have three,” he said. “Now they would be lucky if they just get one job.”

The number of people getting Employment Insurance benefits in Canada has also jumped by 4.4 per cent in January, according to figures from Statistics Canada. But the average hike is far less than Alberta’s, which has seen a 10.5 per cent jump in EI beneficiaries in January.

“This is a tough learning tool for people who are living beyond their means,” said Miller. “... People who were expecting bonuses are now unable to pay off their debts.”

Roughly 570 corporations have filed for bankruptcy across Canada within the first month of 2009.