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More Canadians debt-free this year: poll

A consumer pays with a credit card at a store in Montreal.

Ryan Remiorz/THE CANADIAN PRESS

Repeated warnings from Bank of Canada governor Mark Carney and others seem to be sinking in.

More Canadians are putting the brakes on their borrowing ways.

Twenty-six per cent of Canadians have no personal debt, up from 22 per cent in 2011, according to the results of the annual RBC Debt Poll.

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Canadians are now carrying on average $13,141 in personal debt, up $84 from a year ago.

Ontarians carry the most debt ($15,361), while Quebeckers have the least ($10,171), according to an online poll of 2,041 adults conducted by Ipsos Reid between July 27 and Aug. 2.

Four in 10 Canadians describe themselves as "comfortable" with their current personal debt level, down from 45 per cent in 2011.

One in 3 respondents say their debt level causes them anxiety. That's up from 32 per cent last year.

"It's encouraging that the results show more Canadians have become debt-free over the past year and that those who still have debt want to do more to reduce it," Richard Goyder, vice-president of personal lending at RBC, said in a news release today.

Albertans score the highest in the no-debt department: 36 per cent of respondents said they have no personal debt, up dramatically from 22 per cent in 2011.

The Wild Rose province also saw the biggest year-over-year drop in the amount of personal debt, to an average of $14,881 in 2012 from $19,282 last year.

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Ontarians, on the other hand, bumped up their borrowing to an average of $15,361 from $13,709.

Average Canadian personal debt in 2012 is $13,141, up only slightly from $13,058 last year, according to the poll results.

The poll also indicates that a little over half of Canadians (51 per cent, up from 49 per cent in 2011) say it's more important right now to pay down debt than save and invest for the future.

Four in ten (41 per cent) say it's equally important to pay down debt and save and invest.

Three quarters of Canadians polled (76 per cent) believe they are in better shape on the personal debt front than their friends and neighbours. That's about the same as last year.

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About the Author
Quebec Business Correspondent

Bertrand has been covering Quebec business and finance since 2000. Before joining The Globe and Mail in 2000, he was the Toronto-based national business correspondent for Southam News. He has a B.A. from McGill University and a Bachelor of Applied Arts from Ryerson. More

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