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Survey of Financial Security, 2016

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Released: 2017-12-07

Median net worth of Canadian families



14.7% increase

(period-to-period change)

The median net worth of Canadian families was $295,100 in 2016, up 14.7% from 2012 ($257,200), the last time the survey was conducted. The 2016 median was more than double that of 1999 ($144,500).

Canadian families include families of two or more persons, as well as unattached individuals. Net worth is the difference between a family's assets and debts.

Housing is both the largest asset and the largest debt for Canadians. In 2016, 61.7% of Canadian families reported a principal residence as an asset and 57.3% of these families reported holding a mortgage on their principal residence.

Overall, 29.6% of Canadian families were debt-free in 2016. The share was highest among senior-led families, where 58.0% were debt-free. However, this was down from 1999 when 72.6% of senior-led families were debt-free.

Net worth highest in British Columbia

As in 2012, families in British Columbia reported the highest median net worth in 2016 at $429,400. Families in Ontario reported the second-highest net worth at $365,700, followed by Manitoba ($320,800) and Saskatchewan ($293,500). New Brunswick reported the lowest median net worth among the provinces at $158,400.

Manitoba (+35.2%) had the largest growth in median net worth from 2012 to 2016, followed by Ontario (+30.5%) and Prince Edward Island (+28.6%).

Among the largest census metropolitan areas, Vancouver had the highest median net worth in 2016 at $434,400. This was more than double the level of those living in Montréal ($170,000). Toronto families had the second-highest median net worth at $365,100, followed by Calgary ($339,400), Québec ($335,100), Winnipeg ($287,800) and Edmonton ($230,200).

Differences in the value of homes determines, in part, provincial differences in net worth. The median value of principal residences in British Columbia was $550,000 in 2016, the highest value in the country and $105,000 more than the next highest, Ontario.

Asset increases driven by the value of homes

The total value of assets held by Canadians in 2016 was $12 trillion. The median value of total assets owned by families rose 12.4%, from $391,700 in 2012 to $440,200 in 2016.

The principal residence was the largest asset, accounting for more than one-third of the total value of assets. For those who owned their principal residence, the median reported value was $349,000, up 10.3% from 2012 and double that of 1999.

Private pensions was the second-largest asset category at 29.2% of assets, rising 17.7% from 2012 to $3.5 trillion. The majority of this growth came from employer-sponsored registered pension plans (EPPs), which increased 17.4% to $2.3 trillion in 2016. For those Canadians holding an EPP, the median value rose 20.1% to $156,200.

Other real estate such as cottages, timeshares, rental properties and other commercial properties represented 10.0% of total assets. Just under one-fifth of Canadians (18.2%) owned these types of properties in 2016. The median value was $210,000, up 10.6% from 2012 and up 141.1% from 1999.

Mortgages lead growth in overall debt

Total debt reached $1.76 trillion in 2016, an increase of 24.4% from 2012 and 183.8% higher compared with 1999. The median value of total debt owed by families rose 27.1%, from $63,400 in 2012 to $80,600 in 2016.

Mortgage debt, on principal residences and all other real estate such as cottages, remained the top debt incurred by Canadians in 2016. Total mortgage debt rose by $330 billion, up 30.4% from 2012 and 196.0% higher compared with 1999.

In 2016, 38.4% of Canadian families held a mortgage. The median value was $190,000, an increase of 20.0% from 2012 and twice that of 1999. Mortgage holders aged 34 and younger had the highest median mortgage at $219,000, more than double the amount held by those aged 65 and older.

Across Canada, the percentage of families holding a mortgage ranged from 32.7% in Nova Scotia to 44.0% in Alberta.

Alberta families held the highest median mortgage value at $245,000, followed by British Columbia ($230,000) and Ontario ($211,000).

New mortgage data from the survey

For the first time in 2016, the Survey of Financial Security asked Canadians about the terms of their mortgages on principal residences.

Canadian families held more than 5.4 million mortgages on principal residences. The average mortgage interest rate for these borrowers was 2.94% in 2016.

Interest rates vary depending on the type of mortgage. Fixed-rate mortgages tend to have higher interest rates than variable-rate mortgages. In 2016, Canadian families reported an average interest rate of 3.01% for their fixed-rate mortgages and 2.69% for their variable-rate mortgages.

Almost three-quarters (74.4%) of mortgages held by Canadian families were fixed-rate, while 20.8% were variable rate. The remaining 4.8% were a combination of the two types.

Home equity rises

Home equity has risen significantly since 1999, reaching a median reported value of $238,000 for Canadian homeowners in 2016. This was an increase of 12.8% from 2012 and 115.2% higher compared with 1999.

Canadian families where the major income earner was aged 65 and older reported the largest median value in home equity in 2016 at $300,000, up 13.7% from 2012. Those aged 35 to 44 had median home equity of $168,000, up 6.1% from 2012.

Debt-free families

In 2016, 29.6% of Canadian families were debt-free. The share was highest among senior-led families at 58.0%. However, that was down from 1999 when 72.6% of senior-led families were debt-free. In 2016, 15.4% of Canadians aged 35 to 44 were debt-free.

Across Canada, the percentage of debt-free families ranged from 23.9% in Newfoundland and Labrador to 32.8% in Saskatchewan.

Among senior-led families with debt in 2016, their median debt was $25,000. More senior-led families were also carrying mortgages into their retirement years. In 2016, 13.9% of families led by a person aged 65 and older held a mortgage, compared with 7.7% in 1999.

  Note to readers

Canadian families include economic families of two or more persons, as well as persons not in an economic family.

Economic families are defined as families of two or more people living in the same dwelling, related by blood, marriage, common law or adoption.

Persons not in an economic family are unattached individuals who are living either alone or with others to whom they are unrelated.

Net worth is the amount economic families and persons not in an economic family would have if they sold all of their assets and paid off all of their debts.

Dollar estimates are expressed in 2016 constant dollars to factor in inflation and enable comparisons across time in real terms.

Contact information

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