CBC Digital Archives

A crushing consumer debt

In 1968, Canadians first got their hands on credit cards, making it faster and easier to spend money they didn't necessarily have. Aside from their plastic, many Canadians also deal with the varying burdens of student loans, mortgages and all the other factors that contribute to personal debt. The CBC Digital Archives looks back on the times and troubles of personal debt in Canada, exploring how we get into debt and how we might avoid it.

As Canadians rush off to buy Christmas gifts in the last weeks of 1978, a sobering new statistic might give some shoppers pause. Consumer debt in Canada has now reached a record $32 billion and there are no signs of a slowdown. Banks are competing to offer more mortgages, loans and credit, giving the average consumer more rope to hang themselves with. Debt counsellors are seeing more customers than ever before and one offers his view on where the blame for our collective debt lies.
• In this 1978 clip, anchor George McLean reports that the average Canadian is in debt to the tune of $3,000. By 2008, that amount had ballooned to $26,000 per person.
  • The number of personal bankruptcies in Canada has also steadily increased since the time of this broadcast. In 1980, approximately 18,000 Canadians declared personal bankruptcy, and that number approached 80,000 by 2007. The all-time Canadian record is 85,000, a number reached in 1998 and 2004.

Medium: Television
Program: The National
Broadcast Date: Dec. 16, 1978
Guest(s): Joan Douglas, Pat McLarnon, Doug Wellbanks
Host: George McLean
Reporter: Colin Hoath
Duration: 2:39

Last updated: February 26, 2014

Page consulted on February 26, 2014

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