A driving force no more: Have Canadians reached their limits? (2011)

Borrowing plays an important role in our lives. Excessive debt, however, can be destructive. Our economic research provides insights on households’ attitudes to borrowing and saving in the years that followed the 2008 recession.

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A Driving Force No More: Have Canadian Consumers Reached Their Limits? will help you understand households’ views on changes in their spending and borrowing behaviours, and how those trends had reconciled with the pace of economic recovery observed in 2010.


  • the pace of growth of household debt has slowed, but not all groups of households are optimistic
  • consumption, rather than asset accumulation, remained the primary cause of the debt run up
  • households’ ability to pay down debt may be at risk as not many see their income grow
  • a pan-Canadian perspective does not reflect significant regional differences in debt service costs, labour market, household income and consumer insolvencies
  • households’ exposure to financial risks has increased

Our economic research details these trends balancing individual and economy-wide perspectives. We also highlight options that policy makers may consider in order to help households moderate the growth of their debt, such as:

  • adopt prudent spending and saving habits
  • strengthen Canada’s economy to improve household income prospects