Consumer debt in Canada topped $2 trillion this fall, driven largely by increased demand for mortgages and car loans, according to Equifax Canada. 

In its latest quarterly report, Equifax found total consumer debt rose 3.8 per cent to $2.041 trillion in the third-quarter of 2020 compared to the same period last year.

“Homebuyers are largely the reason why we’ve crossed over the $2 trillion threshold,” Rebecca Oakes, assistant vice president of advanced analytics at Equifax Canada, said in a release Monday.

“Car sales have also rebounded in the last few months. With manufacturer and auction house shutdowns there has been a temporary shortage of vehicle availability in some areas.”

Mortgage balances rose 6.6 per cent year-over-year, while new car loans increased 11.7 per cent compared to the same period last year. Meanwhile, average credit card spending returned close to pre-pandemic levels, according to Equifax.

While the 90-day delinquency rate for non-mortgage debt fell to 0.98 per cent, the lowest level since 2014, Equifax noted some worrying signs.

​“The low delinquency rates we’re currently seeing are likely being masked by deferral programs,” Oakes said, adding deferral programs saw uptake from over three million consumers since the start of the pandemic.

“There are some warning signs in early-stage delinquency on credit cards where consumers have missed one or two payments that we’re closely monitoring.”

According to Equifax, 12 per cent of new credit products in the third-quarter were opened by consumers who took advantage of a deferral program.