The House

Why the Governor of the Bank of Canada worries about your debt

Bank of Canada Governor Stephen Poloz says a lot of things need to come together before the bank is confident it's time for another interest rates increase, including a better understanding of the impact of recent hikes on the country's historic level of debt.
Bank of Canada Governor Stephen Poloz, right, speaks with CBC Radio's Chris Hall at the Bank of Canada headquarters in Ottawa on Wednesday, Oct. 25, 2017. Poloz held the line on interest rates, keeping the bank's key rate at one per cent. (Bank of Canada)
Listen11:50

Bank of Canada Governor Stephen Poloz says a lot of things need to come together before the bank is confident it's time for another interest rates increase, including a better understanding of the impact of recent hikes on the country's historic level of debt.

In an exclusive broadcast interview with The House, Poloz said the bank is taking a cautious approach to interest rates and that it's treading lightly when it comes to the debt Canadians are taking on.

"It's the one thing I would say we're the most cautious about," Poloz told host Chris Hall.

While the economy is doing well, the "debtors club" is growing, he said, mostly from first time home buyers taking on hefty mortgages because of the housing markets.

Increasing interest rates could have a big impact on people's ability to spend if they already have a lot of debt.

"Because of all that debt, we aren't as sure as we normally would be, what would be the response of the economy to a higher rate of interest," he said.

The bank hiked its rate twice this year — once in July and again last month — after staying on the sidelines for the previous two years. Earlier this week, it chose to leave its benchmark interest rate steady at one per cent, prompting questions as to when the next increase might come.

Poloz said that will happen, but not yet.

"As the economy continues to evolve as it has been, it will be the case that it will need less monetary stimulus in the future," he told The House.

"There are a lot of things that have to come together before we feel confident that we're all the way there."

The Bank of Canada governor says a lot of things need to come together before the bank is confident it's time for another increase in interest rates — including a better understanding of the impact of recent rate hikes on the country's high level of debt. 11:50