TORONTO -- A new report says the level of Canadian consumer debt at the end of 2012 -- not counting mortgages -- was up nearly six per cent from a year earlier.
TransUnion says the $1,525 jump from the end of 2011 was the biggest year-to-year fourth-quarter increase since 2008. The quarterly analysis estimates the average Canadian owed a total of $27,485 as of Dec. 31 for such things as car loans and leases, credit cards and lines of credit.
British Columbia was the only province to show a decline, of just under one per cent. The provinces with the biggest increases were Alberta (11.2 per cent), Quebec (9.4 per cent) and Prince Edward Island (nine per cent).
Albertans also had the highest average debt at $37,377 -- nearly $10,000 above the national average, although British Columbia residents were close at $37,244.
Still, TransUnion noted delinquency levels continue to remain low.
Statistics Canada found the average household owes 165 per cent more than it earns in annual disposable income, meaning an average family with $100,000 annual disposable income owes $165,000.
Bank of Canada governor Mark Carney and Finance Minister Jim Flaherty have repeatedly warned Canadians interest rates will eventually rise, pushing up the cost of borrowing.
In January, the bank said interest rates will need to stay at low levels longer after conceding it misjudged the strength of the economy and reduced its outlook for inflation.
-- The Canadian Press