Health Status of Canadians 2016: Report of the Chief Public Health Officer - What is influencing our health? - Housing

What is influencing our health?


In 2011, almost 2 million or just over 1 in 10 Canadian households reported living in core housing need (see Figure 1)Footnote 1.

Figure 1: Just over 1 in 10 Canadian households reported living in core housing need.Footnote 1

Poor housing conditions have been linked to poor health and well-being, as well as increased stress and feelings of vulnerability.Footnote 2-5 Core housing need is an indicator that measures whether or not Canadians are living in a house that meets Canada Mortgage and Housing Corporation (CMHC)'s housing standards. This includes not meeting at least one standard that assesses adequacy (e.g., does it need repairs?), affordability (e.g., how much does it cost?) or suitability (e.g., does it have enough bedrooms for the number and types of occupants?).Footnote 1

Over time

The proportion of Canadian households in core housing need has remained unchanged.Footnote 1

  • 14% in 2001.
  • 13% in 2011.

By income

In 2011, 50% of low income households and less than 1% of high income households were in core housing need.Footnote 6

By subpopulation

In 2011, the proportion of Canadians in core housing need differed by sub-population:Footnote 6

  • 29% of single parent households where the parent was a woman;
  • 27% of people who were renting a place;
  • 24% of single woman households;
  • 19% of Indigenous households;
  • 17% of immigrant households;
  • 15% of households whose primary maintainer was between the ages of 15 to 29 years; and
  • 14% of senior households.

Indigenous populations

Generally, Indigenous populations have higher rates of core housing need.Footnote 1,Footnote 6-8 Almost 100,000 or 19% of Indigenous households were in core housing need (as defined by CMHC) in 2011 compared to 12% of non-Indigenous households.Footnote 6

Percent of households in core housing need, 2011Footnote 6
First Nations - Status Indian 23%
First Nations - Non-Status Indian 19%
Métis 15%
Inuit 34%
Indigenous (overall) 19%
Non-Indigenous 12%
Canada (overall) 13%

For First Nations on-reserve, the definition of housing need differs from CMHC's definition in that it does not include the need to meet affordability standards. This means the data above are not comparable to the data presented below. Based on this definition, First Nations on-reserve were more likely to be in core housing need than the overall Canadian population.Footnote 8

Percent of households in core housing need, 2011Footnote 8
First Nations on-reserve 33%
Canada (overall) 4%

International comparison: Data on housing are not collected such that they can be compared across countries.

Notes to the reader

  • The primary household maintainer is the person in the household responsible for major household payments such as the rent or mortgage.Footnote 6
  • Indigenous populations consist of First Nations, Métis and Inuit.

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