OTTAWA -- The amount of debt held by Canadian households remained at record levels in the fourth quarter, Statistics Canada said Friday.

Household credit market debt to disposable income -- the money left over after paying taxes -- held steady at almost 165 per cent in the last three months of 2012, compared with 164.6 per cent in the third quarter.

That means for every dollar in disposable income a Canadian household earns, it owes $1.65.

On an annual basis, the level of debt increased by 5.5 per cent in 2012.

Household credit market debt includes consumer credit, mortgage, and loan debt.

The latest read on debt came as Statistics Canada reported that the national net worth increased to $6.9 trillion in the fourth quarter, up one per cent from the third quarter of 2012. The national net worth is the sum of the net worth of the persons and unincorporated business as well as corporate and government sectors.

Statistics Canada said higher prices for many assets led the advance, while national saving accounted for 29 per cent of the increase in national net worth.

Household net worth rose 1.4 per cent in the fourth quarter, led by gains in the value of equity holdings and pension assets.

Household borrowing in consumer credit, loans and mortgages totalled $14.7 billion in the fourth quarter, led by $11 billion in mortgage borrowing.

By the end of the quarter, mortgage debt hit $1.1 trillion, consumer credit debt stood at $477 billion.

However, the report said leverage was largely unchanged in the quarter, with owner's equity as a percentage of real estate remaining just under 69 per cent.