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Housing needs




Economic security and deprivation


Housing needs

Note: This indicator is a headline indicator. Headline indicators are intended to provide a high-level assessment of overall quality of life in Canada.

Housing needs data snapshot
Description - Housing needs data snapshot

71% of the population lived in acceptable housing.

Housing needs
  2018 2021
Owner household 76% 78%
Renter household 54% 53%

Source: Statistics Canada, Canadian Housing Survey, 2018 and 2021.


  • Proportion of the population living in acceptable housing.
  • Proportion of the population in core housing need.


This indicator is measured using two statistics derived in the Canadian Housing Survey (CHS) and the Census of Population. These statistics are derived based on information respondents provide about their household's composition, the number of bedrooms in their household's dwelling and whether the dwelling needs repairs, their household's shelter costs as well as income information based on a combination of administrative and survey data.

Acceptable housing

Acceptable housing refers to whether a household meets each of the three indicator thresholds established by the Canada Mortgage and Housing Corporation for housing adequacy, suitability and affordability.

Housing indicator thresholds are defined as follows:

  • Adequate housing is reported by their residents as not requiring any major repairs.
  • Affordable housing has shelter costs equal to less than 30% of total before-tax household income.
  • Suitable housing has enough bedrooms for the size and composition of resident households according to the National Occupancy Standard (NOS), conceived by the Canada Mortgage and Housing Corporation and provincial and territorial representatives.

Acceptable housing identifies which thresholds the household falls below, if any. Housing that is adequate in condition, suitable in size and affordable is considered to be acceptable.

Households below and above the thresholds are based on the indicators for which individual households can be assessed. Farm and on-reserve households whose housing does not meet either or both of the suitability and adequacy thresholds are counted in the total of households below the thresholds. Farm and on-reserve households who live in housing that meets both the suitability and adequacy thresholds are counted in the total of households above the thresholds (even though it is not possible to assess housing affordability for these households). Farm households and on-reserve households cannot be assessed for housing affordability because the concept is not applicable.

Core housing need

Core housing need refers to whether a household's housing falls below at least one of the indicator thresholds for housing adequacy, affordability or suitability, and would have to spend 30% or more of its total before-tax income to pay the median rent of alternative local housing that is acceptable (attains all three housing indicator thresholds).

Only private, non-farm, non-reserve and owner- or renter-households with incomes greater than zero and shelter-cost-to-income ratios less than 100% are assessed for 'core housing need.'

Non-family households with at least one maintainer aged 15 to 29 attending school are considered not to be in 'core housing need' regardless of their housing circumstances. Attending school is considered a transitional phase, and low incomes earned by student households are viewed as being a temporary condition.

Data sources

This indicator is measured through more than one Statistics Canada survey. Estimates can vary between data sources due to differences in reference periods, targeted or sampled populations, data collection and other methodology.

Data visualizations

Data analysis

Additional information

Statistics Canada's Housing statistics

For additional information on housing indicators from the Census of Population, including acceptable housing and core housing need, please refer to:


This indicator aligns with the following framework:

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