Manitoba had the lowest levels of consumer debt per capita despite the fact it grew at twice the national rate of increase over the past year, according to the MB Check-Up report, an annual economic analysis of the province as a place to live, work and invest published by the Chartered Accountants of Manitoba.
“The reason for this significant change in consumer debt levels in Manitoba is in part due to increased mortgage debt,” said Gary Hannaford, CEO of the Institute of Chartered Accountants of Manitoba. “In 2009, the average house price in the province grew faster than in all other provinces, except BC and Saskatchewan,” he added.
Manitoba showed the greatest increase in consumer debt per capita (11.0 per cent) last year but at $20,463 it is the lowest in absolute terms when compared to the other jurisdictions. Consumer debt per capita is personal debt (i.e. credit card debt, personal loans, other debt) and mortgage debt divided by the total population.
Despite the increase in average house prices, Manitoba’s cost of living remains low. Cost of living, defined in the study as the percentage of total household expenditures spent on shelter, is 18.2 per cent in Manitoba with only Saskatchewan slightly lower (17.2 percent).
“Since 2004, Manitoba has had the largest increase in cost of living as it rose by 1.2 percentage points. Despite that increase, it remains one of the lowest among the comparison jurisdictions,” Hannaford said.
Not keeping pace with the other increases is labour compensation. Real labour compensation is defined as the remuneration received by an individual for work done in the form of wages or salary and employers’ social contributions (such as retirement allowances and dental plans) before deducting government transfers.
Last year, real labour compensation per employee rose 1.2 per cent, the third-highest increase in the comparison jurisdictions. However, Manitoba continues to have the lowest real labour compensation per employee out of the jurisdictions reviewed.
The MB Check-Up also shows that, at 10.8 per cent, Manitoba continues to have the largest percentage of youth at risk, or those aged 19 to 24 without high school accreditation.
“Failure to obtain a high school diploma has obvious long-term costs,” Hannaford said. “Both for the individual, in terms of increased unemployment and diminished earning potential and for society at large, in terms of greater dependence on social security and other support systems.”
The study shows that Manitoba tied with Alberta for the largest decrease (-2.1 percentage points) in youth at risk over the past year. However, over the past five years, the province has made limited progress (-1.9 percentage points) with this indicator across the comparison jurisdictions and it was less improvement compared to reductions in Alberta (-3.4 percentage points), a province that also consistently has one of the highest numbers of youth at risk, over the same time period.
The Live section of MB Check-Up also shows that health care spending was similar to the other provinces and increased 2.1 per cent to $3,256 per capita in 2009.
Since 2004, Manitoba has consistently had the second-highest level of health care spending per capita over the past five years.
MB Check-Up is published annually by the Chartered Accountants of Manitoba and provides an independent factual comparison of the four Western provinces, together with Ontario and the Canadian average using 14 key indicators to create a profile of each as a place to live, a place to work and a place to invest. The third section of the report which deals with Manitoba as a place to work will be released at the end of the week.
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Tanya Beck, Manager of Communications
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With more than 2,800 members and 400 CA students, the Institute of Chartered Accountants of Manitoba carries out its primary mission to protect the public by ensuring that its members have the highest level of competence and integrity as a result of demanding standards for admission to the profession, its continuous learning policy and its inspection and discipline processes. Thanks to the quality and rigor of their education and training, CAs bring superior financial expertise, strategic thinking, business insight and leadership to every organization.