09/16/2014 12:23 EDT | Updated 06/16/2017 00:53 EDT

TD Bank CEO Ed Clark Urges Tighter Mortgage Lending Rules


TORONTO - TD Bank chief executive Ed Clark says the federal government needs to do more to ensure Canadians aren't taking on more debt than they can handle.

The banking head, who retires in November, says he remains concerned about the effect the Bank of Canada's low interest rate policy is having on spending habits.

He said Ottawa should be reacting more strongly to household debt to income ratios.

"Where these issues have been dealt with successfully is governments who lay out a framework for an industry," he said in an interview.

The Bank of Canada has called household debt the No. 1 risk to the financial system and the economy, and the federal government has tightened mortgage lending rules four times since 2008 in an effort to keep spending from getting out of control.

Earlier this month, the central bank warned that risks associated with household debt still exist, and noted that the housing market remained stronger than expected.

Household debt to income soared to a record of 164.1 per cent in the third quarter of last year, but fell slightly to 163.2 per cent in the first quarter. That means Canadians owe just over $1.63 for every $1 in disposable income they earn in a year compared with $1.64 at the end of last year.

Clark said individual banks aren't able to "change the world" by taking responsibility for encouraging consumers to spend less.

"It's not possible (in a) competitive capital system," he said.

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