* Debt-to-income ratio rises to 164.6 pct in third quarter
* Increase is smaller than in previous quarter
* Bank of Canada sees signs of improvement
OTTAWA, Dec 13 Canadian households continued to increase their debt load in the third quarter, pushing the debt-to-income ratio to an all-time high of 164.6 from 163.3 in the previous quarter, Statistics Canada said on Thursday.
The Bank of Canada this week said soaring personal debt in Canada remained the number one domestic threat to the financial system. However, central bank chief Mark Carney said there were recent signs Canadians had become more prudent in their borrowing.
The increase in the credit market debt-to-income ratio was smaller than in the previous quarter, Statscan said.
The pace of growth in mortgage debt slowed somewhat from the previous quarter but was still up by C$18.4 billion ($18.8 billion) to C$1.1 trillion. Consumer credit rose to C$474 billion in the third quarter from C$467 billion in the second.
About 64 percent of the credit market debt held by households is comprised of mortgages, 28 percent is consumer credit - mostly credit cards, and the remainder is non-mortgage debt.