03/06/2019 10:03 EST | Updated 03/06/2019 10:08 EST

Canadian Debt Delinquency On The Rise: 'The Worm Is Turning' For Borrowers, Equifax Warns

"Rising delinquency is likely to become the norm in 2019."

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A rising share of indebted Canadians are likely to go into insolvency this year, credit rating agency Equifax has warned.

TORONTO — Equifax Canada says consumer delinquencies climbed higher in the fourth quarter of 2018 and the credit monitoring company warns that rising delinquency rates are likely to become the norm this year.

It says the 90-day mortgage delinquency rate rose by 1.5 per cent from the fourth quarter of 2017 to 0.18 per cent at the end of last year. The comparable non-mortgage rate was up 0.4 per cent to 1.07 per cent.

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"As we expected, the worm is turning in the Canadian credit market," Equifax vice president of data and analytics Bill Johnston said in a statement.

"Bankruptcies are up 15 per cent in the last half of 2018 and the small increase in delinquency rates mask some underlying weakness. Rising delinquency is likely to become the norm in 2019."

The agency noted that seniors have seen three straight quarters of increases in the number of payments that are overdue 90 days or more. The delinquency rate for those 65 and over jumped 7.2 per cent over the past year.

Earlier on HuffPost Canada:

Regionally, Manitoba posted the largest increase (up 6 per cent in a year), followed by Saskatchewan (1.1 per cent), Quebec (1 per cent) and British Columbia (0.6 per cent).

Equifax says total Canadian consumer debt including mortgages increased to nearly $1.91 trillion in the fourth quarter, up from $1.82 trillion in the fourth quarter of 2017.

The average non-mortgage debt for consumers was $23,520, up three per cent compared with a year earlier.

— The Canadian Press with a file from HuffPost Canada