Canadians paid down their non-mortgage debts at the fastest pace in 30 years during the pandemic, according to new figures from Statistics Canada.
The data agency said Monday that credit card debt declined by 18 per cent in the year from February 2020 up until the end of January 2021.
Credit card balances have been growing steadily almost without exception since 2000, going up on average by more than 20% per year. At the turn of the millennium, Canadians owed a total of $13.2 billion on their credit cards. By February 2020, that figure had ballooned to $90.6 billion.
But as of January, it was down to $74 billion, a decline of more than $16 billion.
“Despite resilient household incomes and the roll-out of government support measures to Canadians, households had few places to spend, and many used the pandemic lockdown as an opportunity to save and pay down existing debt,” the data agency said.
Other forms of debt also declined, to the point where May 2020 to May 2021 saw the first annual drop in overall non-mortgage debt in more than three decades.