1 in 10 Canada Families Highly in Debt: Chart of the Day

Canada’s housing boom created a nation where more than one in 10 families are what the central bank calls “highly indebted,” data from polling firm Ipsos Canada shows.

The share of households with debts greater than or equal to 250 percent of gross income reached a record 13.5 percent last year, according to Ipsos, the CHART OF THE DAY shows.

“Looking at these figures one would think Canadians are accumulating debt at an alarming rate,” said Michael Hsu, vice president at Ipsos in Toronto. Still, he said “most of the debt Canadians are accumulating is going into real estate and right now the real estate market is holding up quite nicely.”

The Bank of Canada, which calls households owing more than 250 percent of their gross income “highly indebted,” said last month that household imbalances remain the biggest domestic risk to the financial system. Deputy Governor Timothy Lane said June 26 that while there has been a moderation in household imbalances, policy makers are still “watching very closely.”

Ipsos data shows the percentage of heavily indebted Canadians had fallen to 11.4 in the first quarter. Another more widely tracked sign of consumer finances also shows that debt levels peaked last year and have begun to decline. Statistics Canada reported the ratio of household debt to disposable income fell to 161.8 percent in the first quarter from a record 162.8 percent in the third quarter of last year.

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