Household debt at record high: report
Canadian household debt soared to a record average of $96,000 last year, and more families were behind in paying their mortgages, according to a study by the Vanier Institute of the Family.
The number of mortgage payments at least 90 days late was up 50 per cent in 2009, compared with 2008, indicating that while the recession may "technically" be over, it could be a long and challenging recovery for Canadian families, the study found.
The average debt per household of $96,100 includes consumer and mortgage debt and represents an increase of 5.7 per cent from a year ago.
"The effects of this recession will test the resilience of many Canadian families," Clarence Lochhead, the Institute's executive director said in a news release Tuesday. "While the stock market may be up, the improvement for families will lag behind in terms of employment, increases in income, and a return of net worth."
The 11th annual study, entitled The Current State of Canadian Family Finances, stresses that personal debt is an increasing problem at the kitchen table.
The number of credit card holders who were behind at least three months in their payments was up 40 per cent in 2009.
Study author Roger Sauvé also flagged growing concern over the likelihood of a housing bubble. He noted that over the past 20 years, house prices have averaged 3.7 times household earnings but are now five times earnings, with real estate now providing 48 per cent of the net worth of Canadian households, the highest it has been in 20 years.
Another trend noted in the study is that the rich continue to get richer.
Although average family incomes have risen over the last two decades, not all families have benefited equally. In 1990, the top fifth of families took in 37.1 per cent of the incomes generated by all families in the economy. This increased to 39.7 per cent by 2007.