Household debts continue to pile up

By Andrew Rickard | December 15 2016 11:30AM

Canadians now owe $1.67 in credit market debt for every dollar they have of disposable income.

Statistics Canada published the national balance sheet for the third quarter of 2016 yesterday. It reveals that the average household debt burden increased from 166.38% of disposable income in the Q3 to 166.86% in the most recent quarter. Household sector net worth at market value also increased, however, rising by 2.5% during the period to $10,133 billion.

"On a per capita basis, household net worth was $278,200. The leading contributor to the rising net worth was a 3.2% increase in financial assets as the value of investment fund shares, particularly mutual fund units, life insurance and pension assets, benefited from stronger domestic and foreign securities markets," reads the report in the Statistics Canada Daily. "Non-financial assets grew 1.2%, mainly real estate assets. This was a slowdown from the 2.0% growth in the second quarter."

Scott Hannah, the CEO of the Credit Counselling Society, points to an earlier study from Equifax which found that the 90 day+ delinquency rate has also risen from 1.05% to 1.14 %, mostly because of the depressed economy in the oil-producing provinces.

“You don’t get much warning when a life change is going to happen, you have to be prepared. A big part of being prepared is making sure you can manage when times get tough,” says Hannah. “The best thing consumers can do, especially during the holiday season, is to pay down what they owe instead of taking on more debt.”