OTTAWA - Canadian household debt as a share of income, a measure closely watched by policy makers, slipped slightly in the fourth quarter from a record high in the third quarter, Statistics Canada said on Thursday.

The ratio of debt to disposable income dipped to 170.4 per cent from 170.5 per cent in the third quarter. Statscan revised the third quarter down from an initial 171.1 per cent.

The Bank of Canada - which regularly expresses concerns about Canadians' debt levels - has raised interest rates three times since July and says it is closely monitoring consumers for signs of stress.

On a seasonally adjusted basis, households borrowed $26.0 billion ($20.0 billion) in the fourth quarter, up from $23.5 billion in the preceding quarter.

Mortgage borrowing grew to $16.0 billion from $15.3 billion, the first rise after five consecutive falls.

The debt service ratio, which measures debt principal and interest payments as a proportion of income, remained flat at 13.8 percent.