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Debt-to-income ratio ticks up to 164.6%, StatsCan reports

The amount Canadians owe compared to their ability to pay it off rose to yet another record high last quarter, the national statistics agency says.

On a per-capita basis, Canada's net worth rose to $238.2K at the end of June

CBC's James Fitz-Morris examines debt-to-income levels for the average Canadian family 1:54

The amount Canadians owe compared to their ability to pay it off rose to yet another record high last quarter, the national statistics agency says.

Canada's debt-to-income ratio rose to 164.6 per cent at the end of June, from 163 per cent at the end of March, Statistics Canada reported Friday. It marks the biggest jump in the ratio since 2011, and it's now at its highest level on record.

That means that Canadians owe just under $1.65 for every dollar of their disposable income.

The ratio increased because while incomes rose by 0.8 per cent, so too did Canadians' debt levels, which increased by 1.8 per cent.

Canadians borrowed $26.3 billion in the second quarter, the data agency said, an increase of $3.7 billion from the first quarter. Most of that new borrowing came in the form of mortgages.

Net worth rises too

Despite the increasing debt, Canada's net worth also rose.

The total increased by 1.3 per cent or $107.3 billion from the first quarter to reach more than $8.5 trillion. On a per-capita basis, that works out to $238,200 for every person in Canada.

For every dollar that Canadians had in disposable income in the second quarter, they owed almost $1.65, on average, Statistics Canada reported Friday. (KMR Photography/Flickr)

Though the debt figures are eye-popping, there's reason for optimism beneath the surface, Bank of Montreal economist Benjamin Reitzes said Friday.

By and large, Canadians are borrowing more to buy assets that are increasing in value by a greater amount, he said.

"Household net worth hit an all-time high of 768 per cent of disposable income," he said, adding that even despite the higher debt loads, Canadians' debt-to-asset ratio is still relatively low at 17.9 per cent. 

"This implies that Canadian households have $5.59 of assets for every $1 of debt," Reitzes noted.

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