Albertans top national consumer debt, Equifax report shows

by Morinville Online Staff

Equifax Canada Market Pulse Quarterly Credit Trends Report for the third quarter of 2022 indicates total consumer debt in Canada climbed to $2.36 trillion. 

Albertans are leading the pack in terms of average consumer debt. While the national average non-mortgage consumer debt rose 7.3 per cent to $21,183, Albertans hold an average of $24,926. But that number is down 2.01% from the third quarter of 2021.


Major city data indicates Fort McMurray residents have an average non-mortgage debt of $38,017, while Calgarians carry $24,709 and Edmontonians $24,225. 

Equifax says that following a 3.1 per cent rise in the number of credit-active consumers, overall non-mortgage debt surpassed pre-pandemic levels and stands at $599.9 billion. That figure is up 5.3 per cent from the third quarter of 2021 and up 1.4 per cent from the same quarter in 2019.

“Factors including population growth from immigration combined with pent-up demand from the pandemic on things like vacations will be contributing to the overall rise in credit active individuals,” said Rebecca Oakes, Vice-President of Advanced Analytics at Equifax Canada. “This is a story of two sides though, as consumers also tend to rely on credit more during tough times. Part of the new credit uptake we’re seeing is likely from people who are feeling financial stress from sustained increased living costs and are taking on more debt as a result.”

Credit card demand and balances continue to increase

Equifax reports that the third quarter of 2022 saw almost 1.5 million new credit cards issued, a 22.5 per cent increase from the same quarter of 2021 and 6.2 per cent from the same quarter of 2019. 

In addition to increases in the number of cards, spending on those cards is at an all-time high compared to the same period in previous years. The average consumer spent almost $2,447 in the third quarter of 2022, a 17.3 per cent increase from the same quarter of 2021 and 21.8 per cent above 2019. Unpaid balances rose 13.8 per cent this year and sit at close to pre-pandemic levels.

“Credit card demand has risen aggressively after being low for more than a year. New card growth was seen across all consumer segments, including sub-prime segments,” Oakes said. “Consumers have been making strong payments, but we are starting to see a shift in payment behaviour, especially for credit card revolvers — those who carry a balance on their card and don’t pay it off in full each month. Average payment rates are at a lower level than 12 months ago for this group.”

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