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Demand for credit up in Western Canada; national debt load still high: Equifax

A consumer pays with a credit card at a store in Montreal on July 6, 2010. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Ryan Remiorz

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A consumer pays with a credit card at a store in Montreal on July 6, 2010. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Ryan Remiorz

TORONTO - Credit monitoring agency Equifax says demand for credit has increased for four consecutive quarters in Western Canada, while demand in the Eastern provinces continues to slow.

Equifax says first-quarter statistics show that consumers' overall debt, including mortgages, remains high at around $1.4 trillion, up from $1.33 trillion in the same period last year.

But Equifax says while consumer demand for credit nationally is still heading up — it was up 2.7 per cent in the quarter versus the same period a year ago — debt levels remain manageable.

The report says consumer bankruptcies are down and the overall delinquency rate — bills due past 90 days — is down by 3.9 per cent.

It also says the instalment loan and credit card sectors showed significant increases of 11.8 per cent and 4.8 per cent year over year, respectively.

Equifax says while more new credit cards were issued, on average consumers are carrying smaller balances.

Note to readers: This is a corrected story: A previous version erroneously said last year's debt level was $1.42 trillion

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