Expenses outpacing income driving debt for many

By Steve Randall
More than half of Canadians who have taken on additional debt in the past three years have done so to cope with expenses rising faster than their income.

A survey by Equifax shows that 63 per cent said they were not comfortable with their levels of debt, which has risen to an average $22,125. Total household debt rose to $1.729 trillion including mortgages in the first quarter of 2017, up 6.9 per cent year-over-year.

The credit bureau says that inquiries have risen 3.6 per cent year-over-year with younger Canadians increasing their debt while seniors have cut back.

"Seniors were accumulating more debt last year, but this appears to be in check again. Younger generations continue to have the biggest year-over-year increases in terms of debt," said Regina Malina, Senior Director of Data & Analytics at Equifax Canada.

Delinquencies continue to show regional divergence with Ontario, Quebec and BC all showing lower levels of 90+ day delinquencies (down 6.1, 5.6 and 5.6 per cent respectively). Newfoundland saw the largest rise, up 23.8 per cent.

Saskatchewan (up 18.9 per cent) and Alberta (up 13.8 per cent) increased but by lower degrees than the last few quarters.
"Overall, despite increasing debt numbers, more monthly payments are being made on time and there are fewer
bankruptcies," explained Malina. "At the same time consumers are seeking credit again after several quarters of slowing down, driven by activity in Ontario and Eastern provinces. Borrowing activity is also expanding more in these two regions but people in Newfoundland are having more difficulty making timely payments than in the other provinces."

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