Sometimes, the best way to prepare for the future is to look to the past.

WealthScapes 2012, an annual analysis conducted by Environics Analytics, does just that. The study look at Canadians’ financial health with data from Stats Canada, the Bank of Canada, census figures, financial reports and more.

Interestingly, the report notes that Canadians are becoming more fiscally conservative overall.

Peter Miron, senior research associate with Environics Analytics, said that, Canadians are “looking for safety, rather than growth”.

There is lots of great information in the report, but some of the most interesting analysis comes from looking at regional habits and market trends. For example, Manitoba is the country’s fastest-growing province in terms of prosperity. Whereas, Alberta is struggling. And, in B.C. real estate prices are roughly 50 per cent higher than in the rest of Canada.

We’ve compiled some of the key points below:

  • Vancouver and Victoria spend the the most on debt financing.
  • Vancouver and Victoria average 12.9 per cent and 11.4 per cent of their disposable income on debt financing.
  • Real estate prices in B.C. are about 50 per cent higher than the Canadian average.
  • Mid-size centres like Regina and Quebec city are “savers”.
  • Nova Scotia tends to be less risk averse than the rest of Canada. Miron notes that the the attitude is “live by the sword, die by the sword”. The result is that households in Nova Scotria saw a 4.7 per cent decline in wealth in 2011.
  • Alberta’s net worth has dropped 7.1 per cent since 2007.
  • Manitoba and Saskatchewan are the only two provinces to increase their stock-based investments in 2011.

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