The Bottom Fifth of Canada’s Households Can No Longer Afford Housing In Big Cities

Low income Canadians are going to have a heck of a time finding new rental housing. A Canada Mortgage and Housing Corporation (CMHC) analysis shows how much rental stock is affordable by income quintile in 2020. Affordability is defined as purpose-built units that cost less than 30% of each quintile income. For those that skipped stats class, a quintile is one-fifth of a group. As you might expect, those earning the least, can’t afford sufficient housing at market rates. Especially in Toronto or Vancouver, where the bottom fifth can’t even afford a single percent of rentals.

The Bottom Fifth of Households Can’t Afford To Even Rent In Toronto and Vancouver

The lowest quintile, the bottom 20% of households by income, have few options for housing. Both Toronto and Vancouver have only had 0.2% of rentals affordable for this demographic. Montreal is a little better with 15.3% of rental affordable to this quintile. Calgary has a drop off, with only 10.7% of housing affordable for their lowest income level. In all cases, there’s insufficient housing for this particular demographic. In Toronto and Vancouver, don’t even bother moving there if you’re going to be at this income level.

Canadian Rental Affordability By Income

The percent of purpose-built rental apartments that are affordable to each household income quintile for selected cities.
Source: CMHC, Better Dwelling.

Calgary and Montreal Are Mostly Affordable For The Second Quintile

The second lowest quintile did better, but was insufficient for the demographic size. Only 20.9% of rentals were affordable in Toronto, and 23.9% of rentals in Vancouver. Montreal did significantly better with 62.3% of housing available for the second quintile. Calgary did the best, with 90.3% of housing available for the lowest quintile. In Toronto and Vancouver, the insufficient level of affordable housing would typically cause the second quintile to compete for units. Calgary and Montreal have significantly more room to prevent this, despite the lowest quintile not doing so hot.  

The Middle Quintile Can Afford Renting, Assuming Enough Exists

The third quintile, those right in the middle, were able to afford housing in all regions. The third income quintile could afford 71.4% of Toronto’s purpose-built rentals. In Vancouver, that number jumps to 80.9% of rentals.Montreal comes in at a better 86.8%, and 100% of households in this quintile can afford rentals in Calgary. This doesn’t necessarily mean all of these regions have enough purpose built rentals for this income quintile. However, it means they could afford to rent the vast majority of units. 

Canadians In The Top 40% of Income Can Afford To Rent

The fourth quintile, or those in the 60 and 80% of the income distribution, find most purpose built rental housing affordable. In Toronto, 97.5% of all rentals would be considered affordable. Vancouver did a little worse, but still – 96.8% of rentals in this category are affordable. Montreal comes in at the lowest, but a still high, 96.5% of rentals considered affordable for this demographic. Calgary still at 100%, obviously since they were affordable for the lower quintile. 

As you might expect, all rental types are considered affordable for the top 20% of households, in all four of the cities. Uh, yay? 

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  • Jason 3 years ago

    I bet over 50 percent of Canadians can’t afford to get into the market for the first time if they didn’t already own a home.

    • Rags 3 years ago

      I don’t know about bottom 1/5. I graduated a few years ago, found a stable job making 80k a year and now I can’t even afford to buy a 1+den condo in Toronto. I have a dozen friends in a similar situation as me. 15 years ago, my parents, both factory workers, had no problems buying a detached house in Toronto. Things have really gone to hell.

      • JASON M AZEVEDO 3 years ago

        Stats Canada website says 50 percent of Canadians make under 34,600 before taxes. The media will always give you the average household income to boost the perceived wealth of Canadians because it averages the ultra rich into the mix with the poor. The problem is our whole system relies on more debt creation to grow. That is why Canada is gung ho over more immigration. We are getting near max sustainable debt burden.

  • Tom Wolfe 3 years ago

    1/5 of Canadians cannot afford to live in Toronto or Vancouver, but 4/5s can. However, the median family income in Canada is about $60k. How does that compute?

    • Vlad 3 years ago

      They bought 10, 20 or more years ago. This is a generational transfer of wealth. Their housing was cheap. Our housing is… for the rich.

      Get rich or be homeless trying

  • Average Man 3 years ago

    My God it’s almost like public housing was a good thing that had value, and was allowed to rot for political reasons.

  • SH 3 years ago

    Fake news! Foreign students and housewives declaring poverty level incomes in Vancouver can afford lambos and mansions. The CRA seems to believe that, unquestioningly.

  • More info 3 years ago

    Would be nice if the analysis / article included both the income for each quintile bracket as well as rent price for those brackets

Comments are closed.