More Canadians appear to be concerned about the uncertain global economy, and are getting their own finances in order as a result, according to a new survey.

The 2nd Annual RBC Debt Poll, released Wednesday, found that 26 per cent of Canadians in 2012 said they had no personal debt (not including mortgages). One year earlier 22 per cent of Canadians said they were debt-free.

"It's encouraging that the results show more Canadians have become debt-free over the past year and that those who still have debt want to do more to reduce it," Richard Goyder, RBC's vice-president of personal lending, said in a news release.

While more Canadians are into the black, the poll also found a slight increase in the average amount of personal debt Canadians are carrying.

On average, Canadians carry $13,141 in personal debt, an increase of $84, or 1 per cent, from the previous year's poll results.

When broken down by province or region, Ontarians proved to have the highest personal debt at $15,361, while Albertans' personal debt levels had dropped a whopping 23 per cent from 2011 to 2012.

Quebecers had the lowest amount of personal debt, with just $10,171 on average.

Following are the provincial and regional average personal debt levels:


  • 2011: $13,484
  • 2012: $11,262
  • Difference: -16 per cent


  • 2011: $19,282
  • 2012: 14,881
  • Difference: -23 per cent


  • 2011: $11,836
  • 2012: $11,503
  • Difference: +12 per cent


  • 2011: $13,709
  • 2012: 15,361
  • Difference: +12 per cent


  • 2011: $8,472
  • 2012: $10,171
  • Difference: +20 per cent


  • 2011: $16,546
  • 2012: $13,652
  • Difference: -17 per cent

Canadians also appeared to be slightly more concerned about debt in 2012 than they were in 2011. In total, 51 per cent said they feel it is more important to pay down debt than save and invest for the future. Last year, 49 per cent of those polled took that position.

In total 41 per cent said paying down debt and saving and investing are an equal priority for them -- a drop from 44 per cent a year earlier.

Only 8 per cent of those surveyed feel that now is the time to focus on saving and investing for the future, as opposed to paying down debt.

Following are some additional key findings from the poll:

  • 26 per cent of those surveyed said they cancelled or delayed a vacation due to concerns about debt, compared to 24 per cent in 2011.
  • 19 per cent cancelled or delayed the purchase of a big-ticket item for the same reason, compared to 20 per cent a year earlier.
  • 76 per cent of Canadians feel they are in a better position than their neighbours in terms of personal debt, compared to 75 per cent in 2011.

The RBC poll was conducted between July 27 and Aug. 2, 2012, via an online survey of 2,041 adult Canadians.