Canadians' personal debt creeps higher, poll says

The average level of personal debt held by Canadians has risen to $13,141, a poll released by RBC suggests. Ontarians carried the most on average, and Quebecers the least.

But more Canadians free of non-mortgage debt

Personal debt creeps higher

9 years ago
The average level of personal debt held by Canadians has risen slightly to $13,141, a poll released Wednesday suggests, but more Canadians are free of non-mortgage debt 2:53

The average level of personal debt held by Canadians has risen slightly to $13,141, a poll released Wednesday suggests.

RBC says that’s up by $84 from a similar poll it commissioned last year.

The survey also suggests the proportion of the sample now free of personal — or non-mortgage — debt is 26 per cent, up from 22 per cent in the 2011 poll.

Ontarians carried the most, at $15,361 on average, and Quebecers the least, at $10,171.

Forty per cent of those sampled told pollsters they were "comfortable" with their current personal debt level, compared with 45 per cent in 2011, and 34 per cent said their level of debt caused them anxiety. That compared with 32 per cent last year.

Fifty-one per cent of those polled rated paying down debt as more important than saving and investing. Last year, it was 49 per cent.

Those placing equal importance on both represented 41 per cent, which was down from 44 per cent and eight per cent put saving and investing ahead.

Caution about adding to their debt load led 26 per cent of the sample to delay or cancel purchases or plans, such as taking a vacation, compared with 24 per cent in 2011 and 19 per cent said they were putting off buying a big ticket item. That compared with 20 per cent in last year’s survey.

RBC commissioned Ipsos Reid to conduct the online survey from July 27 to August 2, 2012.

It was based on a randomly selected representative sample of 2,041 adult Canadians that was statistically weighted by region, age and gender composition according to census data.

Because of that weighting, the sample included people without debt, which accounts for why the average personal debt in this survey was much lower than that reported in other studies, which averaged the amounts owed only by Canadians with debt.  

The margin of error for the entire sample is estimated at two per cent.