06/09/2015 11:06 EDT | Updated 06/09/2016 05:59 EDT

Canadian Consumer Debt Spikes 6.9% As Delinquencies Rise In Western Provinces: Equifax


TORONTO - Credit monitoring agency Equifax says it is starting to see small increases in the delinquency rates in Saskatchewan and Alberta that should be monitored.

The observation came as Equifax reported that Canadians generally continued to increase their borrowings for car and instalment loans in the first quarter to bring the country's total consumer debt to $1.544 trillion.

That's up more that $122 billion or 6.9 per cent from $1.422 trillion a year ago. The growth came as instalment loans were up 7.6 per cent and auto loans increased 4.2 per cent compared with last year.

The average debt held by Canadians, excluding mortgages, was $20,910, up 2.7 per cent from a year ago.

Overall, the national average the 90-day-plus delinquency rate was 1.12 per cent, up from 1.09 per cent in the fourth quarter of last year. The rates in Alberta and Saskatchewan were 1.0 per cent.

Regina Malina, senior director of decision insights at Equifax Canada, says the rates did not raise a red flag, but they were something to keep an eye on.

"Oil prices and future economic outcomes are still being debated, but the average debt and consumer appetite for new credit are still on the rise," Malina said in a statement.

"Careful monitoring is more important than ever at this point in time."

Also on HuffPost:

Photo gallery Consumer Debt Per Person (2014) See Gallery
America Votes
The latest polls, breaking news and analysis on the U.S. election from HuffPost’s Washington, D.C. bureau