Canadian dollar coins or loonies are pictured in North Vancouver, B.C. Wednesday, May 29, 2019. Statistics Canada says Canadian households owed an average of $1.71 for every dollar of disposable income in the third quarter. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Jonathan Hayward

Canadian dollar coins or loonies are pictured in North Vancouver, B.C. Wednesday, May 29, 2019. Statistics Canada says Canadian households owed an average of $1.71 for every dollar of disposable income in the third quarter. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Jonathan Hayward

Household debt now $1.77 for every $1 in disposable income, StatCan says

The ratio was still below the $1.81 seen in the fourth quarter of 2019

Canadian households owed an average of $1.71 for every dollar of disposable income in the third quarter, Statistics Canada said on Friday.

In other words, Statistics Canada said, household debt as a percentage of disposable income rose to 170.7 per cent in the third quarter, up from 162.8 per cent in the second quarter.

The ratio was still below the $1.81 seen in the fourth quarter of 2019.

“With more cash and less spending, households were able to pay down some consumer debt. And while there has been a recent pickup, it remains below levels seen earlier this year,” said a client note by Priscilla Thiagamoorthy, economist at BMO Capital Markets.

Statistics Canada’s report said that while credit market debt rose by 1.6 per cent in the third quarter, household disposable incomes fell 3.1 per cent as Canadians recovered from job losses during the COVID-19 pandemic. Lower income households tended to have a higher debt to disposable income ratio, the agency has said.

While employment got within 3.7 per cent of its pre-pandemic levels during the quarter, it wasn’t enough to offset the wind-down of government supports, as employment insurance benefits dropped almost 50 per cent in the quarter, the report said.

But with COVID-19 restrictions keeping people close to home, household savings remained high during the quarter at $56.8 billion, down from a record of $90.1 billion in the second quarter, the agency said.

Households also benefited from rebounding mutual fund shares, amid a 3.9 per cent return on the Toronto Stock Exchange over the three-month period. Overall, the net worth of Canadian households rose three per cent to more than $12.3 trillion.

“Wealth distribution tends to be highly unequal across income groups, as a result, recent gains in net worth have disproportionally benefited Canadians who were already better off,” Ksenia Bushmeneva, an economist at TD Economics, in a note to clients about the household wealth report.

“Generally speaking, wealthier individuals experienced larger increases in savings as they were more likely to retain their jobs while also cutting back on discretionary spending such as travel and restaurants which remain largely unavailable.”

Meanwhile, there was a record rise in mortgage borrowing and housing investment hit its highest point on record as the cost of borrowing hovered at all-time lows, StatCan reported. Mortgage debt hit nearly $1.63 trillion as demand for mortgage loans rose to a new high of $28.7 billion.

“Clearly, cash is not always king, and having wealth — (whether) it’s financial or real estate assets — has really paid off this year with equities and real estate prices rallying,” wrote Bushmeneva.

Other key changes tracked in the report included household debt service ratio, which measures how much income goes to paying interest and principal. The household debt service ratio increased to 13.22 per cent from 12.36 per cent, after declining earlier in the year amid debt deferral programs tied to the COVID-19 pandemic. Many of these programs wound down at the end of the third quarter, Statistics Canada said.

“Canadian household finances are in better health this year thanks mainly to unprecedented government transfers which lifted overall incomes,” wrote Thiagamoorthy.

This report by The Canadian Press was first published Dec. 11, 2020.

Anita Balakrishnan, The Canadian Press

Get local stories you won't find anywhere else right to your inbox.
Sign up here

Just Posted

The Independent Investigations Office of BC (IIO) is looking into the death of man discovered Jan. 11 in east Maple Ridge. (Black Press files)
B.C.’s police watchdog investigating man’s death in Maple Ridge

Man was found dead Jan. 11 after recent contact with police

Staff at Bruce’s Country Market are being asked to monitor for symptoms of COVID-19 after an exposure at the Maple Ridge grocery store. (The News files)
Employee at Maple Ridge grocery store tests positive for COVID-19

All other staff in the department have tested negative for disease

Alouette Heights.
Fire at Alouette Heights in Maple Ridge puts half of residents out of their units

Coast Mental Health said fire was small, but sprinkler system caused damage

People skate on a lake in a city park in Montreal, Sunday, January 10, 2021. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Graham Hughes
The end of hugs: How COVID-19 has changed daily life a year after Canada’s 1st case

Today marks the one year anniversary of COVID-19 landing in Canada

Myrna Norman credits social activity for her success fighting dementia. (Special to The News)
Maple Ridge woman writes inspirational book documenting living with dementia

Myrna Norman has been an active community advocate for de-stigmatizing the debilitating disease

Crews with Discovery Channel film as an Aggressive Towing driver moves a Grumman S2F Tracker aircraft around a 90-degree turn from its compound and onto the road on Saturday, Jan. 23, 2021. It was the “most difficult” part of the move for the airplane, one organizer said. (Jenna Hauck/ Chilliwack Progress)
VIDEO: Vintage military plane gets towed from Chilliwack to Greater Victoria

Grumman CP-121 Tracker’s eventual home the British Columbia Aviation Museum on Vancouver Island

Chilliwack Law Courts. (Black Press file)
Man sentenced to 20 months for sexual offences involving a minor in Mission

Will Laws Clark was 22 and victim was 13 at time offences began

Rolling seven-day average of cases by B.C. health authority to Jan. 21. Fraser Health in purple, Vancouver Coastal red, Interior Health orange, Northern Health green and Vancouver Island blue. (B.C. Centre for Disease Control)
2nd COVID vaccine doses on hold as B.C. delivery delayed again

New COVID-19 cases slowing in Fraser Health region

Provincial health officer Dr. Bonnie Henry talk about the next steps in B.C.’s COVID-19 Immunization Plan during a press conference at Legislature in Victoria, B.C., on Friday, January 22, 2021. Two more cases of the COVID-19 strain first identified in South Africa have been diagnosed in British Columbia, bringing the total to three as of Jan. 16.THE CANADIAN PRESS/Chad Hipolito
B.C. now has three cases of South African COVID-19 variant, six of U.K. strain

Both variants are thought to spread faster than earlier strains

Cannabis bought in British Columbia (Ashley Wadhwani/Black Press Media)
Is it time to start thinking about greener ways to package cannabis?

Packaging suppliers are still figuring eco-friendly and affordable packaging options that fit the mandates of Cannabis Regulations

Rodney and Ekaterina Baker in an undated photo from social media. The couple has been ticketed and charged under the Yukon’s <em>Civil Emergency Measures Act</em> for breaking isolation requirements in order to sneak into a vaccine clinic and receive Moderna vaccine doses in Beaver Creek. (Facebook/Submitted)
Great Canadian Gaming CEO resigns after being accused of sneaking into Yukon for vaccine

Rod Baker and Ekaterina Baker were charged with two CEMA violations each

Police discovered a makeshift nightclub in a Vancouver apartment on Jan. 23, 2021, and say it wasn’t the first time this month officers have been called to the unit over social gathering concerns. (Phil McLachlan - Capital News)
Doorman of makeshift ‘booze-can’ in Vancouver apartment fined; police look to court order

This marks the fourth complaint about social gatherings inside the apartment in January

A Kelowna couple welcomed their Nooner baby in December. (Flytographer)
Kelowna couple welcomes baby girl from Hotel Zed Nooner campaign

Nicole and Alex will now have 18 years of free stays at the hotel

The Abbotsford Tulip Festival is permanently closing, with plans to eventually set up in Armstrong, B.C. (Abbotsford News file photo)
Abbotsford Tulip Festival is closing, with plans to rebloom in Armstrong

Event organizer says pandemic and sale of land were factors in decision

Most Read