By the Numbers: Growth of Canadian debt

Toronto – May 29, 2015 – The proportion of Canadian households in debt and the amount owed has grown over the past decade according to a new Statistics Canada report. The report revealed that between 1999 and 2012, the value of debt and assets held by Canadian families both rose.


In 2012, 71% of all Canadian families had some debt, up from 67% in 1999. Debt includes mortgages and consumer debt such as car loans, lines of credit, vehicle loans, personal loans and student debt.

$23, 400

Between 1999 and 2012, the median debt held by indebted families– the value separating the top half of families with the most debt from the bottom half–increased by $23,400 to $60,100.


The median assets of Canadian families with debt rose by $179,800 over the same period to $405,200. Assets include financial assets (i.e. pensions) and non-financial assets such as real estate.


Median debt for Canadians grew by 64% during 1999-2012.


Among families with children under 18, median debt more than doubled, increasing by $87,400 over the 13-year period.


Among families in the 35-44 age group, median debt rose by $79,600 or a 126% increase, while median assets for the age group rose by 77%. By comparison, the median debt of families in the 55-64 age group rose by $23,100 over the period.


Between 1999-2012, the median debt-to-income ratio of Canadian families with debt increased, the median Canadian family had a debt corresponding to 110% of the family after-tax income in 2012 (up from 78% in 1999).


One-third of Canadian families had a debt-to-income ratio above 2.0 in 2012, meaning that their overall debt level was 200% the level of their annual after-tax income. This was the case of less than one-quarter of Canadian families in 1999.

Sources: Statistics Canada, 2015. "Study: Changes in debt and assets of Canadian families, 1999 to 2012"