There is always a lot of talk about the growing debt in the personal finances of everyday Canadians. And to some extent, it may be true. No doubt, many consumers have gotten used to throwing things on a credit card and then moving on to the next big purchase. The federal government was so concerned about personal debt, they enacted a bunch of rules related to qualifying for a mortgage in an effort to cool off the market. The politicians in Ottawa were concerned a sub-prime mortgage fiasco like the one that devastated the U.S. and world economy a decade ago would happen in Canada. You could argue, the intentions of these tougher qualifying rules were noble, but evidence suggests these measures weren’t really warranted. The most recent numbers by the Canadian Bankers Association (CBA) seems to dispel the concerns by the federal government.
According to the CBA, at the end of January 2019, just .25 per cent of mortgages through the major banks were in arrears of three months or more. For more perspective, out of the 4.75 million mortgages in Canada through the banks, 11,742 were in arrears. That’s basically statistically insignificant. And what it also seems to suggest, is that Canadians are actually very responsible when it comes to paying their biggest bill on time.
A closer look at the numbers also appear to blow Ottawa’s case for tough mortgage rules out of the water.
The hottest markets during the last decade were Ontario and B.C. Home prices skyrocketed in cities like Vancouver and Toronto, the average price of a single-family home climbed to more than $1 million.
There was a wide concern that homebuyers were taking on too much mortgage and would end up under water. Again, the CBA’s stats seem to suggest otherwise. Both B.C. and Ontario have the lowest rate of arrears among the provinces. In Ontario, just .10 per cent of mortgages are in arrears, while in B.C., it’s slightly higher at .15 per cent. Just 955 mortgages in B.C. were in arrears at the end of January 2019 out of more than 643,000. The Atlantic province had the highest percentage of mortgages in arrears at .52 per cent.
Obviously any amount of people struggling to keep their home is unfortunate. It would be ideal if not a single homeowner defaulted on their mortgage. With an election this fall, it’s anyone’s guess where the mortgage qualifying rules are going to go. But statistically speaking, the mortgage industry is on very solid ground and Canadians are more than capable of paying their mortgage on time.