debt canada

Here's how much debt is normal for the average Canadian by age group

When living in a city as expensive as Toronto, it's far too easy to rack up a ton of debt — and quickly — but how much is a "normal" amount of money to owe?

While financial woes are often one of the more stressful things in a person's life, the fact is that the majority of Canadians are walking around owing substantial amounts of cash to creditors, and many of us will die without ever paying it all off.

As inflation continues to push to concerning highs, residents are pulling out those credit cards and living on borrowed cash, with the average debt rising substantially so far in 2022.

According to a new report from Equifax, Canadian credit card owners spent 17.5 per cent more in Q1 2022 than they did during the same period in 2021, and Ontarians are tapping their plastic the most, spending 20.4 per cent more than they did in the first quarter of 2021.

The company pins this on a combination of higher prices for just about everything — especially gas, housing and food — along with pent up demand from years of COVID lockdowns that limited travel, outings and everyday spending.

Equifax says that this trend marks "some of the highest increases in credit card spending we've ever seen," with not only more money being spent, but more credit accounts being opened — 31.2 per cent more year-over-year.

And while the geography of debt distribution within Canada is interesting, so is the distribution among age demographics.

Unsurprisingly, the youngest credit card holders are the most often to default on payments — 18-to-25-year-olds had a delinquency rate of 1.37 per cent in the first few months of this year — but they actually carry the lowest amount of debt generally, at around $8,129 on average per person, which is still a staggering amount, but actually less than this age group last year.

The average debt for a 26-35 year old Canadian is now $16,832, which is up almost 2.83 per cent from the same time last year, while most 36-45-year-olds owe about $25,084, which is up 3.57 per cent.

Meanwhile, 46-55-year-olds tend to owe the most at around $31,442, but the amount of debt that they hold has gone up less in a year than other groups, at 2.82 per cent.

For a 56-65-year-old in Canada, it is normal to have about $26,165 in debt (up 1.12 per cent from Q1 2021), and most residents aged 65 and over are sitting with $14,386 owing (up 0.35 per cent).

If you average that all out, that's about $20,744 for Canadians overall, which is up 1.54 per cent from the same time last year, and this is without mortgage debt — which is likely the largest chunk of money someone owes — taken into consideration.

Strangely enough, while people are spending more and driving themselves further into debt as the price of goods spikes post-COVID, the delinquency rate for all age groups in Canada has actually fallen significantly year-over-year, at least when it comes to non-mortgage debt, and is now only 0.88 per cent overall — 15.66 per cent less than the same time in 2021.

Lead photo by

Jack Landau

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