Canadians’ household debt increases—and we feel fine

New report says we’re spending more, saving less.



Online only.


Canada earned a lot of plaudits during last year’s recession for our sensible approach to finances. (Not like those Americans, with their junk bonds and high-risk mortgages.)

Well, Canadians should feel smug no more—a just-released report by the Certified General Accountants Association of Canada has us placing first among OECD countries for household debt-to-assets ratio. Canadian household debt reached $1.41 trillion last December, 2.5 times what it was in 1989, and we’re saving less than ever.

Not only did we take on more debt, we feel pretty good about it, with 60% of respondents to a CGAAC survey saying they feel confident they can manage their debt. The CGAAC report doesn’t hold back criticism, blaming a “culture of consumption” for encouraging over-spending, and warns that the Bank of Canada’s looming interest rate hike could mean big trouble for big borrowers.

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