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Calgary and Edmonton residents carrying the most consumer debt in Canada: Equifax report


The high cost of living and inflation is taking a toll on Canadians, but those living in Calgary and Edmonton are burdened by the most debt, a new report indicates.

Equifax Canada, in its latest Market Pulse Consumer Credit Trends and Insights report, found Calgarians had an average consumer debt load of $23,885 in the third quarter of 2023 while Edmontonians had slightly less at $23,719.

"Factors such as high cost of living, inflation, credit card payments and mortgage renewal worries are coming at consumers right now," said Rebecca Oakes, vice-president of advanced analytics at Equifax Canada, in a news release.

The company says Canadians' non-mortgage debt increased in 2023 by 4.1 per cent, mainly fuelled by a $15.9-billion increase in credit card debt.

According to the report, the total consumer debt in Canada is $2.45 trillion, up by 3.2 per cent from the previous year.

Despite still having the highest amount of average debt in the country at $24,356, the load for Albertans has dropped by almost 1.5 per cent.

The largest increase – four per cent - was recorded in Newfoundland, where the average debt load is $23,930.

"Budgets have been pushed to the limit for some. There's no doubt Canadians are feeling the financial pinch right now," Oakes said.

Equifax also took a look at mortgage delinquency rates across Canada, finding Ontario and B.C. residents were the most affected.

In Ontario, those rates increased by 135.2 per cent while in B.C., they were up by 62.2 per cent.

Oakes says mortgage renewals are the primary reason for this trend.

"With the prospect of renewing mortgages at substantially higher rates than current ones, consumers who locked in historically low interest rates in 2020 — particularly those with substantial loan amounts — may face challenges in sustaining their payments," she said.

According to the Canadian Bankers Association, there were only about 2,000 mortgages in arrears in Alberta as of Dec. 31, 2023, which is just 0.33 per cent of the total mortgages in the province.

In Ontario, there are 2,621 mortgages in arrears while in B.C., there are 1,017 mortgages that are behind in payments.

Equifax says it is concerned about an increase in delinquency rates outside mortgages.

"Over 153,000 more consumers missed payments on credit products, surpassing 2019 levels," it said.

"Furthermore, the non-bank auto sector, used car bank loans, and unsecured lines of credit also show rising arrears levels, signaling forthcoming challenges."

For more information on Equifax's latest report, you can visit the company's website. Top Stories

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