The Canada Mortgage and Housing Corporation, in collaboration with Statistics Canada, is releasing today the core housing need figures from the 2016 Census. Data indicate that the proportion of Canadian households in housing need has remained stable since 2006. In 2016, the rate of core housing need in Canada stood at 12.7%, representing 1.7M households.

Statistics Canada’s data tables on core housing need

Historical core housing need rate, Canada (source: Census 1991 – 2016, NHS 2011)

Historical core housing need rate, Canada (source: Census 1991 – 2016, NHS 2011)

Text Version

Historical core housing need rate, Canada (source: Census 1991 – 2016, NHS 2011)
1991 1996 2001 2006 2011 2016
Canada 13.6% 15.6% 13.7% 12.7% 12.5% 12.7%

Core housing need is the indicator used in Canada1 to identify households not living in, and not able to access, acceptable housing. It describes households living in dwellings considered inadequate in condition, not suitable in size, and unaffordable.

  • Housing is adequate when it does not require major repairs according to its residents.
  • Housing is suitable when it has enough bedrooms for the size and make-up of resident households, according to the National Occupancy Standard (NOS)2.
  • Housing is deemed affordable when its shelter costs3 represent less than 30 per cent of before-tax household income.

A household is in core housing need if its housing is unsuitable, inadequate or unaffordable, and if its income is such that it cannot afford alternative4 housing in the local market.

Table 1: Number and proportion of households in core housing need, Canada, Provinces and territories5 (Source: Census 2006, 2016, NHS 2011)
Households in core housing need (Number) Proportion of households in core housing need
2006 2011 2016 2006 2011 2016
Canada 1,494,395 1,552,140 1,693,775 12.7% 12.5% 12.7%
Newfoundland and Labrador 27,310 22,945 22,495 14.2% 11.4% 10.5%
Prince Edward Island 6,430 4,945 4,875 12.6% 9.2% 8.5%
Nova Scotia 43,760 46,285 49,450 12.1% 12.5% 12.8%
New Brunswick 29,360 29,570 27,715 10.3% 9.9% 9.0%
Quebec 324,590 348,485 305,590 10.6% 10.8% 9.0%
Ontario 627,530 616,930 748,310 14.5% 13.4% 15.3%
Manitoba 46,920 43,405 51,130 11.3% 10.3% 11.4%
Saskatchewan 40,835 47,355 51,755 11.8% 13.2% 13.4%
Alberta 119,050 137,485 164,275 10.1% 10.7% 11.4%
British Columbia 221,470 247,285 260,220 14.6% 15.4% 14.9%
Yukon 1,875 1,885 2,160 16.3% 14.6% 15.2%
Northwest Territories 2,390 2,215 2,255 17.5% 15.7% 15.5%
Nunavut 2,870 3,355 3,545 37.3% 39.3% 36.5%

 

While the proportion of Canadian households living in unacceptable housing conditions has remained stable over the last ten years, different trends exist among provinces and territories. Between 2011 and 2016, housing conditions have worsened in the Prairies region and Ontario, and improved in British Columbia, Quebec and most of the Atlantic region. Core housing need was prevalent in the territories; the rate in Nunavut remained the highest in the country at 36.5%.

The proportion of Ontarian households with unacceptable housing has significantly increased; close to 1 in 7 households were in core housing need in 2016, an increase of 130,000 households in absolute numbers compared to 2011. The proportion of households in core housing need also rose in Manitoba, reaching 11.4%. Even with a decrease since 2011, the core housing need rate in British Columbia remained one of the highest in Canada, at 14.9%. The situation for Quebec households has improved by the largest proportion among provinces, bringing the overall rate to a historical low of 9.0%, an absolute reduction of more than 40,000 households compared to 2011.

 

Table 2: Dimensions of Housing Need by Tenure in 2016 (Source: Census 2016)
All households Renter Owner
Number Rate Number Rate Number Rate
Total — Need criteria 1,693,775 1,119,910 573,865
Below one housing standard 1,435,815 84.8% 930,575 83.1% 505,245 88.0%
Affordability only 1,288,315 76.1% 836,770 74.7% 451,540 78.7%
Suitability only 72,100 4.3% 59,955 5.4% 12,140 2.1%
Adequacy only 75,405 4.5% 33,845 3.0% 41,560 7.2%
Below multiple housing standards 257,955 15.2% 189,335 16.9% 68,620 12.0%
Affordability and suitability 104,910 6.2% 83,530 7.5% 21,380 3.7%
Affordability and adequacy 129,125 7.6% 85,730 7.7% 43,395 7.6%
Suitability and adequacy 11,510 0.7% 9,490 0.8% 2,015 0.4%
Affordability, suitability, and adequacy 12,415 0.7% 10,585 0.9% 1,830 0.3%

 

Affordability, especially for renters, remained a key challenge for Canadians. Census data indicate that, except for Alberta, the provinces that experienced an increase in core housing need also saw average shelter costs grow faster than average incomes.

 

Table 3: Top-10 Census Metropolitan Areas (CMAs) with the highest proportion of core housing need in 2016, by tenure
All households
Number Rate
Toronto 384,280 19.1%
Vancouver 156,810 17.6%
Belleville 6,390 15.4%
Peterborough 7,220 15.1%
Barrie 10,100 14.4%
Victoria 21,750 14.2%
Kingston 9,265 14.2%
Brantford 7,130 14.0%
St. Catharines - Niagara 22,665 13.9%
London 27,390 13.9%

 

Close to 1 in 5 households in Toronto lived in core housing need, ranking as the Census Metropolitan Area (CMA) with the highest incidence in Canada. 36.3% of renter households in Toronto were in core housing need in 2016. Except for Vancouver and Victoria, all of the other CMAs with the highest incidence of core housing need were located in Ontario.

Additional core housing need visualization tools are available on Statistics Canada’s Census Program Data Viewer. CMHC will continue to release detailed data tables and analysis as they become available in the coming weeks and months.


1 The universe of households tested for core housing need includes only private non-farm, non-band, non-reserve households with income greater than zero and shelter-cost-to-income ratio (STIR) less than 100%.

2 The NOS establishes that enough bedrooms consists in one bedroom for each cohabiting adult couple; unattached household member 18 years of age and older; same-sex pair of children under age 18; and additional boy or girl in the family, unless there are two opposite sex children under 5 years of age, in which case they are expected to share a bedroom. A household of one individual can occupy a bachelor unit (i.e. a unit with no bedroom).

3 For renters, shelter costs include rent and any payment in electricity, fuel, water, and other municipal services. For home owners, shelter costs include mortgage payments (principal and interests), property taxes and any condominium fees, along with payment for electricity, fuel, water and other municipal services.

4 The concept of alternative housing is defined as median local shelter cost, based rent levels and utilities for housing meeting the three standards, representing 30 per cent of the household’s before-tax income.

5 CMHC and Statistics Canada use different definitions of on-reserve (where on-reserve households are not examined for core housing need). As a result, historic household counts in Yukon and Saskatchewan will differ slightly between CMHC and Statistics Canada, where the difference in on-reserve counts occur.

More information on concepts and Census variables is available in Statistic Canada’s Census dictionary.


Discover related content using the tags below:

Date Published:: November 14, 2017