Consumer debt continues to define Canadians’ budgets

by Ephraim Vecina17 Jun 2019

Canadians remained highly reliant on “unprecedented levels” debt so far this year, according to the Credit Counselling Society.

Numbers from Equifax Canada showed that “Canadians remained highly reliant on debt to start 2019.” Each Canadian held an average of $71,300 in debt (including mortgages) during the first quarter of the year.

During the same period, overall consumer debt (including mortgages) expanded to $1.907 trillion, from the $1.823 trillion a year before. In addition, delinquencies lasting 90 days and longer went up by 3.5%.

Canadians continue to carry this debt with no clear savings in place, the CCS warned. As of Q1 2019, the debt-to-income ratio was 177.6%, while the average household savings rate dropped to 1.1%.

“We continue to hear from Canadians, who are concerned on how to make ends meet as their debt continues to grow. We’re finding Canadian consumers reaching out to CCS for assistance are carrying average debt levels over $30,000,” CCS director of education and community awareness Yanchuk Oleksy said.

“This is alarming, as two decades ago, the average was $12,000 of non-mortgage debt.”

An analysis by MNP Ltd. at the start of Q2 2019 found that around 35% of Canadians hold a mortal fear: That another Bank of Canada interest rate hike will push them towards bankruptcy.

Moreover, around 48% said that they are just $200 or less each month away from insolvency. Around 26% admitted that they have no spare funds by month’s end, already unable to sufficiently cover bills and debt repayments as it is.

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