Core housing need, 2016 Census

Release date: November 15, 2017

Statistics Canada, in collaboration with the Canada Mortgage and Housing Corporation (CMHC), has produced the CMHC’s core housing need indicator for the 2016 Census.  This variable is now available for custom tabulations with other census long-form characteristics.

A household in core housing need is one whose dwelling is considered unsuitable, inadequate or unaffordable and whose income levels are such that they could not afford alternative suitable and adequate housing in their community.

Table 1 presents the number of households considered in core need and the core need rate for the provinces and territories.

Table 1
Core housing need for Canada, the provinces and territories, 2006, 2011 and 2016
Table summary
This table displays the results of core housing need. The information is grouped for Canada, the provinces and territories (appearing as row headers), number of households in core housing need and core housing need rate, calculated using percentage units of measure for 2006, 2011 and 2016 (appearing as column headers).
Blank cell Number of households in core housing need Core housing need rate (%)
2006 2011 2016 2006 2011 2016
Canada 1,494,395 1,552,060 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 47,240 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 1,915 2,160 16.3 14.7 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

Figure 1 presents the core housing need prevalence rates for all census metropolitan areas.

Figure 1 presents the core housing need prevalence rates for all census metropolitan areas.
Description of Figure 1

This horizontal bar chart shows the percentage of households in core housing need for census metropolitan areas, 2016.

The Y axis shows the census metropolitan areas in decreasing order of their rate value.

The X axis shows the core housing need rate in percentage.

The national rate is identified in red.

Data table for figure 1
Table summary
The following table shows the percentage of households in core housing need for census metropolitan areas, 2016. The column headings are: census metropolitan area (CMA), core housing need rate (%). The rows are: census metropolitan areas along with their corresponding values.
Census metropolitan area (CMA) Core housing need rate (%)
St. Catharines - Niagara13.9
Abbotsford - Mission12.7
Greater Sudbury12.5
Thunder Bay12.2
Ottawa - Gatineau11.9
St. John's11.5
Kitchener - Cambridge - Waterloo11.4
Saint John8.8

Some notes on the core housing need concept

Core housing need was derived in two stages. The first identified whether the household was living in a dwelling considered unsuitable, inadequate or unaffordable. Housing suitability identified whether the dwelling had enough bedrooms according to its size and composition. Housing adequacy was assessed based on the Dwelling condition not being reported in need of major repairs. A shelter-cost-to-income ratio of less than 30% was required to deem the housing affordable. The second stage established whether the household could be expected to have affordable access to suitable and adequate alternative housing by comparing the household’s total income to an income threshold based on local housing costs. Only those households who could not afford alternative housing would be considered in core housing need.

Table 2 presents, for households deemed to be in core housing need, how many and which of the three standards were not met. This information is further disaggregated by the two applicable tenure types.

Table 2
Dimensions of core housing need by housing tenure for Canada, 2016
Table summary
This table displays the results of the dimensions of core housing need. The information is grouped by standard(s) not met (appearing as row headers), by housing tenure (all households, owner households and renter households) with number and percentage of distribution (appearing as column headers).
Blank cell All households Owner households Renter households
Count % Count % Count %
Total – Households in core need 1,693,775 100.0 573,865 100.0 1,119,915 100.0
Below one standard 1,435,820 84.8 505,240 88.0 930,570 83.1
Below affordability only 1,288,315 76.1 451,545 78.7 836,770 74.7
Below suitability only 72,095 4.3 12,140 2.1 59,955 5.4
Below adequacy only 75,410 4.5 41,555 7.2 33,845 3.0
Below two standards 245,540 14.5 66,790 11.6 178,760 16.0
Below affordability and suitability 104,910 6.2 21,380 3.7 83,540 7.5
Below affordability and adequacy 129,120 7.6 43,390 7.6 85,730 7.7
Below suitability and adequacy 11,510 0.7 2,020 0.4 9,490 0.8
Below all three standards 12,420 0.7 1,830 0.3 10,580 0.9

More information on concepts is available in the Census dictionary.

Indicator tables similar to Table 1 for selected geographic levels are available for download in comma-separated-variable (CSV) format.

Statistics Canada’s Census Program Data Viewer (CPDV) also maps the core housing need rate to all areas supported by the viewer as well as presenting charts determining core housing need status for all inadequate, unsuitable and unaffordable housing. Within the CPDV, select the 'I want to…' button, then click select an indicator, select the housing topic and then the indicators: inadequate core housing needs; unsuitable core housing needs; unaffordable core housing needs.

Further tables and breakdowns are possible across other census variables with custom tabulations.

CMHC has also produced a document on core housing need in the Housing Observer Online and will continue to release detailed data tables and analysis as they become available in the coming weeks and months.

Date modified: