It’s a well-documented fact that Canada has some of the highest levels of household debt in the world, thanks in no small part to an excess of mortgage debt.
But the country’s debt-to-income ratio finally started to shift downward in the first quarter of 2018, falling from a historic high of 169.7 per cent to 168 per cent. That means Canadian consumers borrowed $22.2 billion, down from $25.4 billion in the fourth quarter of 2017. Mortgage borrowing fell to $1.37 billion, the lowest level since 2014 and the biggest quarter-over-quarter decline in 28 years.
A new mortgage stress test, which was introduced on Jan. 1, has been widely credited with the drop in debt.
“The steeper drop to start 2018 suggests we may finally be at a turning point as the one-two punch of stricter mortgage rules and higher interest rates slow household borrowing while income continues to climb,” said BMO Capital Markets economist Priscilla Thiagamoorthy in a statement.