Debt-to-income ratio slips in first quarter

OTTAWA — The amount Canadians owe compared with their income ticked lower in the first quarter but remained near record levels as mortgage debt continued to climb.

Statistics Canada said Wednesday the amount of household credit market debt as a proportion of household disposable income slipped to 166.9 per cent in the quarter compared with 167.2 per cent in the fourth quarter of last year.

That means that for every dollar of disposable income, Canadians owe about $1.67.

Economists and policy-makers, including the Bank of Canada, have raised concerns about household debt and see it as a key risk to the economy.

Low interest rates have fuelled the growth in household debt in recent years, but the central bank has started dropping hints that may be changing as the economy has improved.

Canadians should be thinking about what their finances would look like were interest rates to rise, Bank of Canada governor Stephen Poloz said this week.

Royal Bank economist Laura Cooper said the cost of servicing debt has remained broadly unchanged in recent years, but households’ sensitivity to rate hikes is likely greater now than when rates have risen in the past.

“Non-mortgage debt tends to command higher borrowing rates and variable payments, leaving households increasingly vulnerable to a looming uptrend in interest rates,” Cooper wrote in a report.

Household income gained 0.9 per cent, Statistics Canada said, greater than the 0.7 per cent increase in household credit market debt.

Total debt, which includes consumer credit, and mortgage and non-mortgage loans, totalled $2.041 trillion in the first quarter. Mortgage debt represented 65.7 per cent of that, up from 65.6 per cent during the last three months of last year.

“While indebtedness has recently stabilized for Canada as a whole, it still remains elevated, leaving households particularly sensitive to rising rates,” TD Bank economist Diana Petramala said in a note to clients. “Moreover, averages do not tell the full story, with risks still rising in Ontario.”

Household net worth at market value rose 2.2 per cent to nearly $10.534 trillion. Households borrowed $27.5 billion on a seasonally adjusted basis in the first quarter, down slightly from $27.6 billion in the previous quarter.

Mortgage borrowing increased $2.7 billion from the fourth quarter to $20.9 billion, while demand for consumer credit and non-mortgage loans fell $2.8 billion to $6.5 billion.

Statistic Canada’s report came as the Teranet–National Bank national composite house price index, which measures homes sold at least twice in their history, hit a new all-time high for a 16th consecutive month. The index gained 2.2 per cent last month, the largest gain for May in the 19-year history of the index.

Just Posted

Four Red Deer skiers off to Alberta Winter Games

Four young Red Deer skiers are headed to the Alberta Winter Games.… Continue reading

Hurry Hard: Red Deer Oilmen’s Bonspiel starts on Friday

A January tradition in Red Deer, the Oilmen’s Bonspiel takes to the… Continue reading

City Hall briefly evacuated

Carbon monoxide false alarm behind evacuation

Charges laid in home invasion in Maskwacis

Three people injured with stab wounds

Town of Sylvan Lake takes over provincial park

Provincial government announced official transfer of park to town on Thursday

WATCH: Marijuana in the Workplace information luncheon held in Red Deer

Central Alberta businesses need to prepare for the legalization of marijuana. That… Continue reading

WATCH: Red Deer city council debates cost-savings versus quality of life

Majority of councillors decide certain services are worth preserving

Got milk? Highway reopened near Millet

A southbound truck hauling milk and cartons collided with a bridge

Stettler’s newest residents overcame fear, bloodshed to come here

Daniel Kwizera, Diane Mukasine and kids now permanent residents

Giddy up: Red Deer to host Canadian Finals Rodeo in 2018

The CFR is expected to bring $20-30 million annually to Red Deer and region

Ice dancers Virtue and Moir to carry flag at Pyeongchang Olympics

Not since Kurt Browning at the 1994 Lillehammer Games has a figure… Continue reading

Beer Canada calls on feds to axe increasing beer tax as consumption trends down

OTTAWA — A trade association for Canada’s beer industry wants the federal… Continue reading

Most Read


Five-day delivery plus unlimited digital access for $185 for 260 issues (must live in delivery area to qualify) Unlimited Digital Access 99 cents for the first four weeks and then only $15 per month Five-day delivery plus unlimited digital access for $15 a month