BMO Financial Group

BMO Financial Group
BMO Bank of Montreal

BMO Bank of Montreal

August 05, 2014 06:00 ET

BMO Annual Debt Report: Household Debt Up 6 Per Cent to $76,140

More Canadians Have a Mortgage, Fewer With Credit Card Debt and Student Loans Unchanged

- Alberta has the highest household debt, Quebec has the lowest

- Ontario and Prairies have decreased household debt from last year

- More Canadians with a mortgage as Millennials entering the housing market

TORONTO, ONTARIO--(Marketwired - Aug. 5, 2014) - According to BMO's Annual Debt Report released today, the average household debt in Canada has risen from $72,045 last year to $76,140 in 2014, with Alberta leading the way. The report also details how the mix of debt - mortgages, credit cards and student loans - for households in the provinces has changed year over year.

The report, conducted by Pollara, revealed that household debt has increased in each region across Canada, except for the Prairies and Ontario. Alberta remains the province with the highest household debt, $48,698 above the national average. Alberta and BC are above the national average, while the other provinces are below.

Average Household Debt
2013 $72,045 $47,237 $56,860 $76,970 $82,100 $89,026 $79,089
2014 $76,140 $64,120 $59,805 $67,507 $68,437 $124,838 $99,834

Other noticeable regional differences include:

  • Albertans have nearly twice the average household debt than Ontarians ($124,838 vs. $67,507, respectively).
  • Atlantic Canadians took on more than $16,000 of household debt this year compared to 2013.
  • British Columbians also took on more debt - $20,745 more this year than last.
  • Those in the Prairies reduced their debt by $13,000 from last year.

Sal Guatieri, Senior Economist, BMO Capital Markets, noted that the booming economy of Alberta, particularly Calgary, has made the province an outlier compared to other regions. "Part of the reason household debt in Alberta is so much higher than in other provinces may be due to rapidly rising house prices, which have caused home buyers to take on larger mortgages."

The BMO Debt Report also revealed the type of debt Canadians have in 2014 compared to last year:

  • Four in ten (43 per cent) Canadians hold mortgage debt, an increase of 13 per cent year-over-year.
  • More than half of Canadians have a credit card balance, but the number of households has dropped from 56 per cent to 52 per cent this year.
  • Student loans have remained stable, with 15 per cent of Canadian households reporting this type of debt

The rising share of households with a mortgage is partly driven by the active participation of first-time buyers, mainly young Canadians, noted Mr. Guatieri.

Types of Debt
Credit Cards 52% 60% 46% 54% 45% 50% 58%
Mortgages 43% 31% 46% 40% 38% 53% 44%
Student Loans 15% 20% 11% 19% 3% 17% 10%

"It is encouraging to see Canadians are paying down credit card debt, which costs more - especially compared to today's low mortgage rates," noted Tony Tintinalli, Regional Vice President, BMO Bank of Montreal. Mr. Tintinalli encouraged Canadians to speak with a financial planner to set realistic financial goals and a budget, and put a plan in place to pay down their debt aggressively, whether by opting for a shorter amortization for those with mortgages, or by choosing a credit card with a lower monthly interest rate.

Results from the BMO Household Debt 2014 survey are from interviews with an online sample of 1,002 Canadians conducted between June 30th and July 3rd, 2014. These results have been compared to the Household Debt 2013 survey, which was conducted with an online sample of 1,005 Canadians between July 12th and 16th, 2013.The margin of error for a probability sample of 1,002 or 1,005 is ± 3.1%, 19 times out of 20.

About BMO Financial Group

Established in 1817 as Bank of Montreal, BMO Financial Group is a highly diversified financial services organization based in North America. The bank offers a broad range of retail banking, wealth management and investment banking products and services to more than 12 million customers. BMO Financial Group had total assets of $582 billion and more than 45,500 employees at April 30, 2014.

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