StatCan figures show Canada’s supply not matching population growth

Written by
Erin Nicole Davis

In not-so-surprising news, census figures from Statistics Canada (StatCan) confirm that housing supply in Canada has not kept pace with population growth over the 2016-2021 period.

This is despite a pandemic-inspired drop in immigration during the outbreak of COVID-19.

Of course, this imbalance only compounds Canada’s dramatic housing affordability crisis – a crisis fueled in part by a relentless lack of supply that has left some corners of the country untouched.

According to population estimates from Statistics Canada, the housing-to-population ratio has declined over the period 2016-2021, economist Jean-François Perrault points out in a new report from Scotiabank Economics.

This is reflected both across the country nationally, as well as in most provinces and the 20 largest census metropolitan areas (CMAs).

“While some commentators have pointed to the census as evidence that the situation is improving slightly, a more detailed examination of the numbers suggests otherwise,” Perrault writes. “Despite recording the slowest rate of population growth since 1972, the census reveals that the imbalance between supply and demand for housing has increased nationally, in most provinces and in all 20 largest census metropolitan areas. We don’t seem to be making progress. »


While the census population count underestimates the figure by around 1 million — which is likely not widely known — StatCan’s most telling numbers adjust for that, Perrault says. StatCan figures are also the only ones available on a monthly, quarterly and annual basis. “For these reasons, we have used this population measure in our previous work on this topic and continue to believe that it represents the best basis for analysis,” says Perrault.

Based on the 2021 census for the total number of private dwellings compared to the population figures for 2016 and 2021, the ratio of dwellings to population has decreased slightly at the national level. In short, no progress has been made in bridging the gap between the number of homes and the growing number of Canadian residents.

And the number of residents will only increase with the return of widespread immigration.

“We remain hopeful that the focus on increasing housing supply by all levels of government will lead to a better balance between supply and demand over time,” Perrault writes. “The latest census clearly indicates that we have not yet made any progress in meeting the housing needs of Canadians.

Here’s to hoping.

Written by
Erin Nicole Davis

Erin Nicole Davis is a Toronto born and raised writer with a passion for the city, its urban affairs and its culture.

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