First National Financial LP

Residential Market Commentary - Debt goes for a hike

  • First National Financial LP

As Canada rolled into the final quarter of 2019 debt levels went for a hike.  The latest figures from Statistics Canada put the level of household debt to disposable income at 176%.  Up from 175.4% reported in the previous quarter.

For every dollar left after taxes and expenses Canadians owed $1.76 in debt.  It was the first increase in a year and represents an annualized increase of 1.2%. 

Mortgage borrowing was a big part of the increase.  Bank of Canada figures show mortgage debt at institutional lenders hit a new high of $1.62 trillion in November, up 0.37% from October and 4.6% higher on year-over-year basis.  Low interest rates and good employment numbers appear to be bringing Canadians back into the housing market.

Growing debt also means Canadians are using more of their money to service it.  In the third quarter of 2019 the national debt service ratio hit an all-time high of 14.96%.

That has triggered more concerns about bankruptcies and insolvencies.  The Office of the Superintendent of Bankruptcies says nearly 136,000 Canadians had become insolvent by the end of November, a 9% annual increase.