With help from real estate, British Columbians still Canada’s wealthiest

B.C. becomes the first province to top $1 million in average household net worth

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In Environics Analytics’ latest WealthScapes survey, B.C. becomes the first province to top $1 million in average household net worth

Here’s a comforting thought to take you into the fall: Canadians are wealthier than ever. That good news comes from BCBusiness research partner Environics Analytics, based on findings from the newest release of the marketing and analytical services firm’s WealthScapes financial database. Across the country in 2016, average household net worth climbed 12 per cent year-over-year, to almost $771,000, according to Toronto-based Environics Analytics. Meanwhile, household debt rose 4.4 per cent, to roughly $139,000 on average.

For the latest edition of WealthScapes, which turns 10 this year, Environics Analytics drew on 178 financial and investment statistics. Despite worries about a house-price bubble and mounting consumer debt, the survey suggests that Canadians are taking steps to secure their financial futures. Last year they boosted their savings and investments by an average of 5.6 per cent and 13.2 per cent, respectively, to $95,710 and $182,238. Consumer and credit card debt grew much more modestly, by 2.6 per cent and 3.3 per cent, respectively.

What do the results tell us about B.C.? Vancouver is still the Canadian city with the highest average net worth: last year it hit $1,217,630, a 19.4 per cent surge that outpaced the rest of the country. In 2016, Victoria, along with Toronto and Calgary, joined Vancouver in the millionaires’ club. And B.C. became the first province to cross the $1 million threshold for average household net worth.

In a finding that won’t surprise British Columbians, WealthScapes 2017 identified likely housing bubbles in Vancouver and Victoria, where real estate holdings appreciated by 21.8 per cent and 19 per cent on average, respectively, last year. Rising home prices in those cities as well as Toronto appear tough to sustain, Environics Analytics noted, pointing to efforts by the B.C. and Ontario governments to slow demand. “Both provinces have attempted to cool their housing markets,” Peter Miron, vice-president of demographic and economic data, said in a statement. “But it’s unclear whether they’ll give up some of their 2016 gains in 2017.”