According to Statistics Canada, household debt-to-disposable income is now higher than that of the United States (Globe and Mail). For every dollar of annual disposable income, Canadian households owe $1.53 in debt (all debts, including credit cards, mortgages etc.).
US News and World Report has published guidelines for these ratios. A healthy debt load should be below 36%. 43-49% is a level for which financial difficulty is imminent unless action is taken. And anything above 50% suggests seeking professional help immediately to commence aggressive debt reduction.
This is not to suggest that most Canadians need to take such dramatic action. But it does highlight the seriousness of the average Canadian household’s debt levels. With dropping savings levels, and with ongoing increases in consumer debt such as credit cards and especially lines of credit, Canadians need to be putting plans in place to get their debts under control. If (when…) interest rates go up, it may push those who have significant debts into levels they can no longer support.