Saskatchewan has the highest rate of people behind on their mortgage payments in the country, according to a new report published by the Canadian Bankers Association (CBA).
While 99 per cent of people are in good standing with their mortgages, .78 per cent are in arrears which is over three times the national average of .23 per cent. Credit Market & Economic Policy Unit Director Alex Ciappara said the news is not all bad.
"It's still a pretty healthy market and [the percentage in arrears] is very small compared to other countries," he said. "For instance if you take a look at the United States, at its worst the arrears were around 5.2 per cent."
Even with that positive outlook from the CBA, the Saskatchewan NDP claims the Sask. Party government has left homeowners struggling when it comes to meeting their mortgage payments.
“Instead of providing opportunities for economic growth and an increase in wages, the Sask. Party has cut funding to job creation programs and refused to raise the minimum wage to $15 per hour. They are holding Saskatchewan residents back,” NDP Housing Critic Nicole Rancourt said in a statement.
The Saskatchewan NDP has also obtained information from the Saskatchewan Mediation Board, which revealed the number of notices of intention of home foreclosures in Saskatchewan has increased 204 per cent in the last decade, climbing from 392 notices in 2008 to 1,192 in 2017. For the first three months of 2018, there had been 447.
Minister of Labour Relations Don Morgan defended the government’s record. He cited 63,000 new jobs had been created since they formed government, and weekly earnings outpaced other provinces in the country.
"As of Sept, 2018, the average weekly earnings in our province were $1,012.85, so we were the third highest [in the country] and above the national average of $996.66. We were second only to Alberta and Newfoundland," he said.
Morgan said there could be a number of factors to explain the increase in mortgage arrears including marital disruptions, and unemployment.
"In the days when the housing market was very brisk, people could say 'okay I’m going to sell my house now and they would move on but now the housing market is somewhat slower so the foreclosure process starts," he said.
Morgan said the government does consider the numbers in the report to be a concern, and said he would continue to monitor them. He added a quicker recovery in commodity prices may be one solution to help the province’s financial situation.
On Twitter: @nigelmaxwell
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