As Canadians prepare to go to the polls next month, data from the Canadian Rental Housing Index (CRHI) has found the issue of affordable rent in the Canadian market is impacting Ontario and BC electoral districts the most, with Quebec, Nova Scotia, and Manitoba not far behind.
According to the CRHI, out of the top 20 federal ridings with the worst affordability challenges, the index finds 11 of them are in Ontario while six are in BC.
The information comes from the 2019 Canadian Rental Housing Index, a comprehensive
database of rental housing statistics released today by a national partnership of housing associations, credit unions, and municipal associations.
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The Index uses data from the 2016 long-form census, and examines rental housing affordability and overcrowding of various demographic groups for over 800 municipalities and regions across Canada, as well as all 338 federal electoral districts.
Overall, Toronto’s Willowdale takes the title as the federal riding with the highest proportion of renter households dealing with a “crisis level” of spending on rent. In that riding, nearly two-thirds (59%) of all renter households spend 30% or more of their income on housing, while 39% allocate half or more.
And Willowdale’s neighbouring ridings of Thornhill and Richmond Hill don’t fare much better, placing second
In BC, both the ridings of Vancouver-Quadra and Richmond Centre take the title as the most unaffordable in the province, and are among the top 10 most unaffordable ridings in Canada.
Winnipeg South, Halifax, and Ville-Marie—Le Sud-Ouest— Ile-des-Soeurs in Quebec round out the top 20.
“These numbers clearly demonstrate why Canadians and housing advocates have been calling on our political leaders to take more immediate action to address the affordability challenges impacting so many families and individuals across the country,” said Jill Atkey, CEO of BC Non- Profit Housing Association.
“Whichever party forms the next government will need to increase the investments into the National Housing Strategy in order to achieve its goals before this crisis gets even worse.”
The 2019 Index also puts a face to those most impacted by these affordability challenges such as single mothers, Indigenous renter households, new immigrants, Canadians under the age of 30, and seniors, who are all facing higher levels of overspending on rental housing than the Canadian average.
The data shows that half of single-mother renter households in Canada are spending over the recommended affordability benchmark of 30% of income, while almost
one in four (22%) are in a crisis level of spending.
BC and Saskatchewan are the hardest hit, with 64% and 61% of single mother-renter households spending over the affordability benchmark, respectively.
The 2019 CRHI also shows higher proportions of overspending and overcrowding among Indigenous-led renter households.
“The data released today confirms what we have been telling our government for years that Indigenous families and individuals are disproportionately struggling to pay the rent,” said Margaret Pfoh, CEO of the Aboriginal Housing Management Association. “Whoever forms the next government needs to fix this inequity,”
The data also shows that of the nearly quarter-million immigrant renter households that landed in Canada between 2011-2016, nearly one-quarter (24%) are at a crisis level of spending, and one in three are overcrowded – more than triple the Canadian average.
“The data clearly demonstrates that our political leaders have not been able to find or implement meaningful solutions to the affordable housing crisis, and Ontario now has the dubious honour of being harder hit than anywhere else in the country,” said Marlene Coffey, Executive Director of the Ontario Non-Profit Housing Association.
“For a long time, the conversation around rental housing affordability in Canada has focused on the population as a whole, but the numbers clearly show several key, vulnerable groups are bearing the brunt of this crisis,” said Jeff Morrison, Executive Director of the Canadian Housing and Renewal Association. “We very much hope that those seeking office in this election and Canadian voters will use this opportunity to push for more immediate and substantial action on this critical issue.”
Canadians head to the polls on October 21.