Staying at home is essential to the COVID-19 response. Our homes have taken on an added importance in our lives. In fact, Statistics Canada’s Canadian Perspectives Survey Series indicated that 90% of respondents reported they were avoiding leaving their home as part of their COVID-19 response.
Survey sheds light on the challenges of staying at home
Spending lots of time inside can impact our lives in many ways. Some of the more obvious challenges include:
- getting enough physical exercise,
- maintaining social connections, and
- balancing our various routines while working from home.
These are just a few of the pressures highlighted in the survey responses.
Additionally, the research shows that confinement is stressful with 1/3 of Canadians reporting concerns about confinement and family stress. Staying at home poses other challenges in multi-unit buildings as tenants try to maintain a safe physical distance where there are shared spaces such as lobbies, elevators and laundry facilities.
Dwelling type and ownership provide a useful housing lens
In Canada’s large urban centres (Census Metropolitan Areas), 40% of households own and live in single-detached houses and 26% live in rented apartments. Data from the 2018 Canadian Housing Survey shows that these groups differ considerably across a variety of housing characteristics:
- satisfaction with living space and indoor temperature varies across dwelling types and housing tenure
- socio-economic vulnerabilities vary across dwelling types and housing tenure
- households rating their general health as poor or fair may be at higher risk of having an underlying condition associated with vulnerability to Covid-19
Extended periods at home make the characteristics of your dwelling all-the-more important. Households in rented apartments appear vulnerable because they are more likely:
- to express concerns about the characteristics of their dwelling, and
- to be vulnerable in terms of finances, health or social contacts.
During Covid-19 and staying at home, municipalities, health agencies and property managers should be aware of overheating in units where tenants cannot control the temperature during a sustained heatwave. This may be due to lack of air-conditioning units, or the affordability of paying for the operation of a window air conditioner unit.
Tenants previously could go to parks or air-conditioned centres. Assuming the situation stays as is, they must stay at home short of “allowed exceptions”. This could be uncomfortable and possibly dangerous for those being asked to stay home. Going outside for a walk in extreme heat is also risky for some.
Looking forward — reporting on the “new normal”
The Canadian Perspectives Survey responses of over 200,000 Canadians will be integrated with neighbourhood-level information. This will provide more direct evidence on the relationships between where people live and their Covid-19 outlooks and responses.
Canadian Housing Survey
This article relates to housing using data from the Canadian Housing Survey. The Canadian Housing Survey gathers information on the housing conditions of Canadian households every 2 years until 2028. CMHC is collaborating with Statistics Canada on this survey to leverage their resources and expertise in administering large household surveys across Canada, including in the north and remote regions of the country.