One In Five Canadians Are In “Shelter Poverty” and It’s Worse For New Immigrants

Soaring Canadian real estate prices has left many in a form of poverty, shows government data. Statistics Canada (Stat Can) recently dropped the results of its 2018 housing survey. Amongst the many insights are the number of people living in shelter poverty. These are households that spend more than 30% of their income on housing and that is now 1 in 5 people. It’s even more common for recent immigrants, where nearly a third live like this.

1 In 5 Canadians Are In Shelter Poverty, Immigrants At A Higher Rate

The rate of Canadians buried in housing costs is rising and recent immigrants see it at a higher rate. About 18.0% (6,400,200) of people in Canada live in shelter poverty, spending more than 30% of their income on housing. Recent immigrants are a higher rate with 31%  (353,900) of the population in shelter poverty. That’s 1 in 5 people across Canada and 1 in 3 recent immigrants crushed by housing costs. Not an ideal setup for future economic growth.

The Majority of Those In Shelter Poverty Are Homeowners

The majority of people in shelter poverty across all segments are homeowners. About 10.9% (3.9 million) homeowners in Canada spend more than 30% of their income on shelter. This works out to 60.1% of the total in shelter poverty. For recent immigrants lucky enough to be homeowners, about 17.4% (199,500) are in shelter poverty. Not quite double, but more are stretching to make that homeownership dream happen.   

Recent Immigrants Are Underrepresented As Renters In Poverty

Renter households are seen as low income but they represent a small part of shelter poverty. Only about 7% (2.5 million) Canadians are renters spending more than 30% of their income on shelter costs. When looking at recent immigrants, just 3.5% (154,500) rent and live in shelter poverty. Part of this is explained by renters being a smaller share of households. However, it doesn’t explain the whole stat.

Even though this data was released a few days ago, it’s not particularly fresh. The analysis was conducted using data collected back in 2018. Home prices have since increased over 40% in general, and rents have soared. Heck, rents have even increased in cities with rising vacancy rates. In short, as bad as this data is — it’s probably deteriorated even further.

26 Comments

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  • Jappan Singh 9 months ago

    I am so proud of Canada. Good job Canada.
    That 30% is before tax I believe.
    Is there stats available for discretionary income across age group and home ownership by year, provinces?

    • Bernard 9 months ago

      Bingo. That’s 30% to shelter, 30-50% for income, and 13% consumption on top of anything not grocery you buy. You seriously only get a tiny fraction of your income in Canada at this point.

  • Vishal 9 months ago

    In fairness, these people are signing up for a shot at being one of Canada’s 1%. Canada is very clear about the fact they need to immigrants to work the jobs locals won’t and pay taxes because the demographic skews means 60% of people earning an income need to support 100% of social services.

    If you’re willing to take that deal, step right up.

    • SH 9 months ago

      I disagree that Canada is importing people to do jobs “Canadians won’t do”.

      The immigration model is about cramming as many people in to grow “human capital” and grow GDP (even though GDP per capita, which is indicative of quality of life, has been stagnant to slightly down for the past 10 years). The TFW program deals more directly with labour shortages, ex. farm workers. But even there it’s used by the banks and other large companies to undercut the wages of Canadians.

  • SH 9 months ago

    So why in god’s name does Canada has a reputation as some sort of paradise amongst everyone the third world and even many in Europe?

    Everyone I meet seems to slobber about how much they *love* Canada even though most have never even visited the place (I live overseas).

    • Pollen 9 months ago

      Canada care more about appearances than actually doing the right thing. That’s why there is this false belief in Canadian prosperity. Many Canadians have fallen for it. I did before I was forced to live on income supports because I became severely disabled. Now I know how bad Canada really is because it’s easier for me to access physician assisted suicide than accessible basic needs and shelter.

    • expat 9 months ago

      same here, and I live overseas as well. You say “Canada” and their eyes light up. Then I say “relax, I can’t even afford to live there it’s so expensive, so I came here to live and work” and their jaws drop.

      • SH 9 months ago

        I’ve been gone about 7 years (Western Europe). The first few years I just smiled and nodded at all the idiotic gushing about Canada, particularly from other immigrants. Now, having looked on in horror as Canada financially ruined a generation of citizens to protect the artificially inflated equity of Boomers and money-launderers, the gushing becomes particularly exasperating. In reality, Canada embodies much of the worst of the US and Europe without the benefits of either.

  • Jay Jason 9 months ago

    Even 1% income earner making $250k per year with a $200k down payment, I can get a $750k mortgage for a $950k property. This would take about 50% of net monthly income. What the heck can the other 99% afford…?

    • Chang Xiu 9 months ago

      You can’t do math at all. A 750k mortgage is going to run around 3600-3700/mo whereas a 250k income is going to be around 15-18k/mo after tax.

      • Billy Bob 9 months ago

        250K will leave you with around 12,580 / month in Ontario

        3700 / 12580 = 29.4%

        • Jay Jason 9 months ago

          Then add property taxes, insurance, utilities, internet, cell phone, and these basic cost add up to around 50% of disposable income. I live in Waterloo ON and $1M is a basic 3bdrm house in an average neighborhood that went for $300k 10 years ago.

  • JT 9 months ago

    “For recent immigrants lucky enough to be homeowners, about 17.4% (199,500) are in shelter poverty. ” How much of this is involving undeclared worldwide income? If 50,000 of these recent immigrants have purchased and are living in houses valued at over $2million but income less than $50,000 then they are not really living in shelter poverty.

    • Mortgage Guy 9 months ago

      Likely a small percent in contrast to the number that borrow between 31 and 35% of the max they can borrow at most lenders.

      You can max out your debt servicing for mortgage borrowing, but in general most people don’t. That doesn’t mean new home buyers aren’t pushing their budgets to the limit, especially now.

  • Heather 9 months ago

    It just keeps getting better and better, not. And this ‘stat’ is based on data now 4 years old.

    • Mortgage Guy 9 months ago

      It’s most likely a lot worse now, this is true. Existing homeowners are getting a break while it becomes more difficult to give new ones a break with mortgage costs at this level.

  • Dimpy 9 months ago

    I don’t understand. If you make 200,000 as a family and spend 61,000 on shelter you are now poor. Even if you believe ( which I don’t ) that someone pays 100,000 in income taxes, it still makes no sense. The family in question – 3 people – has only 39,000 for non-shelter expenses. Or 13,000 a person?

    My income is 9,700 and my rent is about 1,500, but I get 1,000 in tax back and have savings. My yearly expense is 16,000.

    Me = 16,000 ( on 9,700 welfare + savings )
    A three person family is 13,000 each ( on a 200K salary )
    Um … okay

    • James Wilson 9 months ago

      and that would be an outlying situation when the median income is $90k/year.

    • Jimmy 9 months ago

      200k family would net about 150k. May have other deductions health, pension, etc. Would net about 135k most likely. 135-60=85,000. Not bad but that income is close to top 10%.

      But a family making 90k combined would net about 75k. That leaves them with 29k after housing costs. Two kids in day care and they are left with 5 to 10k a year. Yes they are poor.

      Single parents have no chance at all.

  • fred 9 months ago

    BOC pumping 7 billion dollars in housing market las 30 day despite saying they stop bond buying
    Canada Mortgage Bonds V1038114416 9,597 9,599 9,601 9,603 9,604
    https://www.bankofcanada.ca/rates/banking-and-financial-statistics/bank-of-canada-assets-and-liabilities-weekly-formerly-b2/

  • Ellyn D'Uva 9 months ago

    They are “richer than they think”. -Scotiabank

  • Alex 9 months ago

    Check your math again. That’s an increase of $7 million

    1,000 million = 1 billion

    9,604 million – 9,597 million = 7 million.

  • Jimmy 9 months ago

    Net income would be 13k a month in ontario. Probably has other deductions that take it down to 12k (health benefits etc.)

    Mortgage payment 4k
    Property insurance 100
    Utilities 300
    Property tax 400
    Maintenance 1,200

    Total 6k half of net income. 250k is needed to be middle class in Canada now and getting worse by the day.

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