As federal party leaders continue to campaign, releasing bits and pieces of their platforms, more and more data continues to be released by housing associations across the country, demanding “immediate” action.
Thanks to the 2019 Canadian Rental Housing Index, we now have a better picture of the rental affordability crisis in Canada, and it hits hard in Ontario. Of the top 20 federal ridings with the worst rental affordability challenges, 11 are in Ontario and six are in British Columbia.
"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," says Marlene Coffey, Executive Director of the Ontario Non-Profit Housing Association.
Willowdale in Toronto is the federal riding with tenants paying the highest proportion of their income on rent. In this riding, nearly 60% of the renter households spend more than the benchmark 30% of their income on housing, and almost 40% are spending half of their income.
Thornhill and Richmond Hill are second and third, respectively, when it comes to rental affordability challenges in Canada. When you think of Thornhill and Richmond Hill, you probably think of high-end housing and single-family homes. This proves affordability issues can exist anywhere in Canada.
"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," says 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."
The people affected the most by the rental affordability crisis include single-mothers, Indigenous households, new immigrants, Canadians under 30 years old, and seniors.
Half of single-mother renters spend more than 30% of their income on housing, and 22% are at a “crisis level” of spending, which means they’re spending half their income or more on housing.
Indigenous household rental challenges are evident in places like Saskatoon where 54% spend more than 30% compared to 42% of non-Indigenous households. And in Nunavut, 43% of Indigenous households are struggling with overcrowding, compared to only 6% of non-Indigenous 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. This comes at a time when the federal government is planning to decrease investment in Urban and Rural Indigenous Housing. Whoever forms the next government needs to fix this inequity," says Margaret Pfoh, CEO of the Aboriginal Housing Management Association.
With new immigrants (arriving from 2011-2016), nearly a quarter are spending at a crisis level and one-third are struggling with overcrowding, which is triple the Canadian average. Almost a quarter of Canadians under 30 years old are at a crisis level, and more than half of our seniors are spending more than 30% of their income on their housing.
"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," says 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."