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Prairie household debt dropping

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Prairie residents have reduced their average household debt by more than $13,000 in the past year, a new Bank of Montreal survey states.

BMO said Tuesday average household debt in Manitoba and Saskatchewan has dropped to $68,437 this year from $82,100 in 2013.

Despite the improvement, it was still the third-highest level of household debt among the six regions covered in the survey. Alberta had the highest average at $124,838, while Quebec had the lowest at $59,805.

In terms of the type of debt, the survey found more than four in 10 (45 per cent) of Manitoba/Saskatchewan households are carrying credit card debt. Thirty-eight per cent are carrying mortgage debt, and three per cent are carrying student loans.

The percentages for credit card debt and student loans were the lowest of any region, while the percentage for mortgage debt was the second lowest. Nationally, average household debt has risen to $76,140 from $72,045 in 2013. The survey found more than half (52 per cent) of Canadian households have a credit card balance, more than four in 10 (43 per cent) have mortgage debt, and 15 per cent are carrying student loans.

BMO noted the percentage of Canadian households that have a credit card balance is down from 56 per cent in 2013.

"It is encouraging to see Canadians are paying down credit card debt, which costs more -- especially compared to today's low mortgage rates," said Tony Tintinalli, regional vice-president for BMO

The results of the survey are based on an online survey of 1,002 Canadians conducted between June 30 and July 3. The margin of error for a probability sample of that size is plus or minus 3.1 per cent, 19 times out of 20.

Republished from the Winnipeg Free Press print edition August 6, 2014 B7

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