The total level of debt held by Canadian households has increased to $1.54 trillion. The latest Equifax report shows that debt increased by 6.9 per cent in the first quarter of this year compared to the end of 2014. The increase is driven by instalment loans and auto finance with average Canadians holding $20,910 of debt excluding mortgages, a 2.7 per cent increase. Delinquencies have also increased slightly but remain low; up from 1.09 per cent at the end of last year to 1.12 per cent in the first three months of 2015.
Debt levels in Alberta and Saskatchewan are being closely monitored by the debt agency and are around 30 per cent higher than the national average. Signs of increased delinquencies a concern. Equifax’s Regina Malina told the Calgary Herald: “We’re starting to see delinquency rate increases in Alberta, and even more so in Saskatchewan. The average debt and consumer appetite for new credit are still on the rise. Careful monitoring is more important than ever at this point in time.” She noted that although the firm’s data does not include mortgages, higher house prices generally equate to higher prices in other things too.
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