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Canadians owe more than $1.7T, up 7% in past year, Equifax says

Canadians' appetite for debt is as insatiable as it has ever been, a new report from credit monitoring firm Equifax says.

Average Canadian now owes more than $22,000 on top of their mortgage, and the amount is rising fast

The average Canadian owes $22,125, a figure that doesn't include mortgage debt. (Ryan Remiorz/Canadian Press)

Canadians' appetite for debt is as insatiable as ever, a new report from credit monitoring firm Equifax says.

Equifax calculates that Canadian consumers owed $1.729 trillion at the end of the first quarter, an increase of 6.9 per cent in a year.

Not counting mortgage debt, the average Canadian consumer owed $22,125 at the end of March, but on the whole borrowers are managing to stay on top of it.

"Despite increasing debt numbers, more monthly payments are being made on time, and there are fewer bankruptcies," Equifax Canada's senior director of data and analytics Regina Malina said.

"At the same time consumers are seeking credit again after several quarters of slowing down, driven by activity in Ontario and Eastern provinces."

The report singles out borrowers in Newfoundland and Labrador for showing signs of falling behind. Delinquencies surged by 23.8 per cent in the province, although they still remain low at 1.55 per cent of all borrowers.

Canada-wide, the delinquency rate stands at 1.15 per cent, a slight dip from where it was at the start of the year.

Borrowers are considered delinquent on their loans when they are more than 90 days behind on payments.

While Canadians are borrowing more, they have a strong appetite for two types of debt in particular: instalment loans and car loans. Across the country, those two types of debt have increased by  and 6.6 per cent, respectively, in the past year.

Young people more, seniors less

And not all demographic groups are borrowing more at the same pace. 

The typical Canadian between 18 and 25 owes just $8,565, Equifax says, but that figure has grown by four per cent in the past year. Baby boomers between 56 and 65, meanwhile, on average owe more than three times that much, $27,709. But they are adding to their debt half as fast.

"While every age group continues to increase their debt obligations, seniors are slowing down on the amount of debt they are carrying," Malina said.

"Seniors were accumulating more debt last year, but this appears to be in check again. Younger generations continue to have the biggest year-over-year increases in terms of debt."

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