With the Bank of Canada holding interest rates … just how vulnerable are Canadians to debt?

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.

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.

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.

“Bankruptcies are up 15 per cent in the last half of 2018 and the small increase in delinquency rates mask some underlying weakness,” Equifax Canada vice-president Bill Johnston said in a statement.

“Rising delinquency is likely to become the norm in 2019.”

Equifax’s report comes the day before the Bank of Canada announces it interest rate decision.

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