The uncertainty created by the COVID pandemic is a cause for concern for a number of reasons. Countless Canadian businesses have been forced to close while millions of Canadians have lost their jobs or are working reduced hours, which has led to many residents struggling to pay their rent, while others have been forced to delay payments on their mortgages.
At the start of the pandemic, six of Canada’s largest banks – including RBC, TD, BMO, Scotiabank, CIBC, and National Bank – announced they would be allowing customers to defer paying their mortgages for up to six months.
In just under three months, CIBC alone has reportedly offered around 108,000 Canadian customers the opportunity to defer payments on around $35.5 billion in residential mortgages or about 16% of its domestic real estate-secured lending, according to a report from The Gold Telegraph.
Canada’s ‘Big Six’ banks also announced similar numbers last month, with the banks reporting they’d permitted payments to be deferred on more than $180 billion of Canadian residential mortgage and real estate-secured loan balances as of April 30, according to reports.
According to the Bank of Canada, this amount accounted for more than 14% of the $1.24 trillion in residential mortgages that the nation’s chartered banks held on their balance sheets as of March.
What’s more, the Canadian Bankers Association said 13 member banks have allowed more than 720,000 Canadians to defer or skip a payment as of May 27, representing around 15% of the number of mortgages in bank portfolios.
The Canada Mortgage and Housing Corporation (CMHC), the country’s national housing agency, previously reported that two provinces accounted for more than half of deferred mortgages nationwide. By mid-May, 27% of mortgage deferrals came from Quebec, and 26% were from Alberta. Ontario accounted for 21%, while British Columbia represented just 7%.
“A team is at work within CMHC to help manage a growing debt ‘deferral cliff’ that looms in the fall, when some unemployed people will need to start paying their mortgages again,” CMHC CEO Evan Siddall said last month. “As much as one-fifth of all mortgages could be in arrears if our economy has not recovered sufficiently.”
And while the Bank of Canada has said it believes the impact of the COVID pandemic has already “peaked,” CMHC expects the trend of mortgage deferrals won’t be ending any time soon and expects that 20% of Canadians with mortgages could delay their payments by September of this year.