According to the results of an online poll conducted by Pollara on behalf of BMO, 83 per cent of those surveyed said they had some form of debt this year. That's up from 74 per cent who had some sort of debt when the same question was asked last year.
That's a nine percentage point difference, but a 12 per cent increase from one year to the next.
The survey also found that the average monthly debt repayment amount has fallen by 13 per cent from $1,138 last year to $986. By region, Albertans had the largest monthly debt repayment, at $1,225, while Quebecers had the smallest — $768.
The numbers could suggest people are in no hurry to pay down debt, the bank says. "We've had prolonged interest rates for a few years now, allowing people to take on more debt while still ensuring that it's affordable so they're able to manage the debt that they have," BMO vice-president Janet Peddigrew said of the results.
Despite the uptick in people with debt, almost half of those surveyed — 44 per cent — said their household debt has decreased in the past five years. That compares with 28 per cent who said it had increased during that period.
The largest source of debt cited by Canadians polled was a mortgage, at 34 per cent, followed by car payments at 19 per cent and student loans at 14 per cent.
The majority of poll respondents said they plan on being debt-free within five years.
Among mortgage holders, one-third expect to be debt-free within five years, while more than half (56 per cent) expect to be debt-free within 10 years.
The online poll done by Pollara surveyed 1,005 Canadians on their debt levels and repayment between July 12 and 16. Online surveys do not have a conventional margin of error because they are not random samples of the population.