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

Johnathan Lee Robichaud pleaded guilty to eight charges including sex-related offences against children and accessing, possessing and making or publishing child pornography. (Courtesy of Saanich Police)
Sentencing date moved for Saanich nanny guilty of child porn charges

Johnathon Lee Robichaud pleaded guilty to eight sex offences against children

(Google Maps)
Sophisticated glass-removal crime returns to downtown Victoria

Several businesses on Fort Street targeted overnight, say police

Eligible non-profit organizations and charities apply for support through North Saanich’s COVID-19 relief until Feb. 12.(Black Press Media file photo)
North Saanich lays out criteria for grants to non-profits

Eligible applicants can apply for an unlimited amount to help ease effects of COVID-19

(Black Press Media file photo)
Saanich repeals, reschedules two public hearings for consideration of new information

Move to hold public hearings for second time ‘very rare,’ mayor says

Health Minister Adrian Dix and provincial health officer Dr. Bonnie Henry head for the press theatre at the B.C. legislature for an update on COVID-19, Jan. 7, 2021. (B.C. government)
B.C.’s COVID-19 spread steady with 509 new cases Friday

Hospitalized and critical care cases decline, nine deaths

Seasonal influenza vaccine is administered starting each fall in B.C. and around the world. (Langley Advance Times)
After 30,000 tests, influenza virually nowhere to be found in B.C.

COVID-19 precautions have eliminated seasonal infection

Chief public health officer Dr. Theresa Tam provides an update on the COVID-19 pandemic in Ottawa on Friday, Jan. 8, 2021. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Sean Kilpatrick
Canada’s top doctor says to avoid non-essential travel as B.C. explores legal options

Premier John Horgan says he is seeking legal advice on whether it can limit interprovincial travel

Lilly and Poppy, two cats owned by Kalmar Cat Hotel ownder Donna Goodenough, both have cerebellAr hypoplasia, a genetic neurological condition that affects their ability to control their muscles and bones. Photo by Alistair Taylor – Campbell River Mirror
VIDEO: Wobbly Cats a riot of flailing legs and paws but bundles of love and joy to their owner

Woman urges others to not fear adopting cats with disabilities

Martin Luther King Jr. addresses the crowd during the march on Washington, D.C., in August of 1963. Courtesy photo
Government reinforces importance of anti-racism act on Black Shirt Day

B.C. Ministers say education “a powerful tool” in the fight for equity and equality

A northern resident killer whale shows injuries sustained by a collision with a vessel in B.C. waters. (Photo supplied by Ocean Wise Conservation Association)
Coast Guard ramps up protections for B.C. whales

First-ever Marine Mammal Desk will enhance cetacean reporting and enforcement

Dr. Shannon Waters, the medical health officer for the Cowichan Valley Region, is reminding people to stay the course with COVID-19 measures. (File photo)
‘Stay the course’ with COVID measures, Island Health reminds

Limit social activity, wash hands, wear a mask, and isolate if you feel sick

Jobs Minister Ravi Kahlon shared a handwritten note his son received on Jan. 13, 2021. (Ravi Kahlon/Twitter)
Proud dad moment: B.C. minister’s son, 10, receives handwritten note for act of kindness

North Delta MLA took to Twitter to share a letter his son received from a new kid at school

Cowichan Tribes members line up at a drive-up clinic on Wednesday, Jan. 13 to receive the first doses of the COVID-19 vaccine in the region. (Kevin Rothbauer/Citizen)
BCAFN condems racism against Cowichan Tribes after COVID-19 outbreak

“Any one of us could do everything right and still catch the virus”: Regional Chief Terry Teegee.

Most Read