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Oil-producing provinces see delinquency rates jump: report

Delinquency rates, while still low, have increased dramatically from last year in the oil-producing provinces of Alberta, Saskatchewan and Newfoundland and Labrador, according to a new report from Equifax Canada.

Millennials also finding it more difficult to pay their bills

Equifax Canada says the vast majority of consumers — even in the hard-hit oil economies — are still managing to pay their bills before hitting the 'delinquent' stage. (LM Otero/Associated Press)

Delinquency rates, while still low, have increased dramatically from last year in the oil-producing provinces of Alberta, Saskatchewan and Newfoundland and Labrador, according to a new report from Equifax Canada.

The report adds to the growing body of evidence that the thousands of layoffs in the oilpatch are making it harder for some consumers to pay their debts.

The delinquency rate — which is the percentage of people who have a debt repayment overdue by at least 90 days — soared by 40.3 per cent in Alberta, 22.7 per cent in Saskatchewan and 19.4 per cent in Newfoundland and Labrador, the credit reporting agency found.

Nationally, the delinquency rate edged up by 4.1 per cent from a year earlier.

But the data show that the vast majority of consumers — even in the hard-hit oil economies — are still managing to pay their bills before hitting the "delinquent" stage.

The delinquency rate in Alberta, for instance, rose to 1.4 per cent — still slightly lower than the rate in the three Maritime provinces.

"[Delinquency rates] are still relatively low, and that has to be kept in perspective, but we are definitely seeing the impact of the prolonged situation in those regions," said Regina Malina, a senior director at Equifax Canada.

"It looks like it is a fairly persistent situation so we'll probably see these increases for a while until the region will
adjust to the new economic situation."

Statistics Canada noted in a report issued Thursday that the number of employment insurance beneficiaries in Alberta has risen 48 per cent in the last year.  

The Equifax report also highlights delinquency rates by age group. It shows that while seniors added to their debt load by more than any other group, their delinquency rate fell by 2.4 per cent — the only age group to see a drop.

"For the most part, older Canadians have always demonstrated an ability to handle their spending and what they owe," Malina said.

Millennials, on the other hand — the 18 to 25 group — saw their delinquency rate jump 11.7 per cent, even though their debt load was the smallest of any age group.

Excluding mortgages, consumers owed an average of $21,878 in the second quarter of 2016, up 3.4 per cent from the same quarter last year.


With files from The Canadian Press

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