Canada’s homeownership rate falls to its lowest level in 20 years, census shows

A construction worker works on a new home in Ottawa on May 27, 2021. Steadily rising home prices have pushed many would-be buyers out of the market and into renting.PATRICK DOYLE/Reuters

Canada’s homeownership rate fell to 66.5 per cent last year, new census data shows, the lowest level since the turn of the century as more Canadians became renters.

Statistics Canada also released data on the indigenous population in Canada along with figures on housing. The census found that the indigenous population in Canada continues to grow faster than the non-indigenous population, but at a slower rate than previous data reports. The indigenous population in general is also younger than the non-indigenous population by an average of 8.2 years, the data show. Among indigenous groups, the Inuit are among the youngest, followed by the First Nations.

When it comes to housing, the percentage of homeowners has decreased since peaking at 69% in 2011. Steadily rising home prices have pushed many would-be buyers out of the market and into renting. At the same time, the proportion of people living alone or with roommates has been increasing.

the census found that the increase in renters outpaced that of homeowners over the last five years, with some of the largest increases occurring in mid-sized metropolitan areas in BC and Ontario, such as Kelowna, Barrie and Oshawa. Last year, the nation’s rental rate was 33.1 percent compared to 31.8 percent in 2016.

“People who live alone or with roommates are less likely to own their home than other households, such as couples with or without children,” says the census report released by Statistics Canada.

In British Columbia, home to the most expensive real estate in the country, the homeownership rate fell from 70% to 66.8%. And in Ontario, the rate fell to 68.4 percent from 71.4 percent.

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Surprisingly, the census showed that housing costs had become more manageable over the previous five years. The national unaffordability rate dropped to 20.9 percent last year from 24.1 percent in 2016, according to Statscan. The census defines unaffordability as a household that spends more than 30 percent of their gross income on housing costs.

However, the census was conducted in the spring of 2021, when the federal government had been providing income support to those who had lost work due to COVID-19 restrictions. That helped many Canadians pay for housing costs such as rent, utilities and mortgages. Meanwhile, mortgage rates were at an all-time low and landlords had been cutting rental prices to attract tenants, many of whom left their rental units when they lost their jobs.

Housing advocates said the drop in the homelessness rate doesn’t mean the country’s housing problem is getting better.

“When this data was collected, there was a sudden amount of government transfers to low-income households,” said Andy Yan, director of the city’s program at Simon Fraser University. “People got income but it was temporary. This is not the end of housing challenges for most Canadians,” he said.

Since the spring of 2021, the real estate market has become more expensive for owners and renters. Mortgage rates have more than doubled with the Bank of Canada aggressively raising interest rates to curb inflation. Additionally, rental prices have risen as Canadians continue to be priced out of the market and more people immigrate to Canada.

The data released Wednesday was the fifth of seven release dates for the 2021 census results.

The census counted 1.8 million indigenous people in the country. That represented 5 percent of the country’s total population last year compared to 4.9 percent in 2016.

It found that the indigenous population increased by 9.4 percent in the last five years, nearly double the rate of the non-indigenous population. But the growth was not as pronounced as in the previous five years, when the indigenous population grew by 18.9% between 2011 and 2016.

One of the main reasons for the increase was natural growth, or higher birth rates and longer life expectancies. The other reason was response mobility, when people who previously did not identify as indigenous are more likely to do so. Statistics Canada said this is due in part to personal reasons, modern treaties and agreements, changes in legislation, court cases and broader societal factors that can influence how people identify. The agency said determining how much of the increase in people likely to identify themselves as indigenous is something that can be studied further.

Statscan and the census also showed differences between the growth rates of the three main indigenous groups.

“We see that the growth of the Métis has slowed down and we see that the First Nations with registration status has slowed down again, all even higher than the non-Indigenous population,” said Christopher Penney, director of the Center for Indian Statistics and Association of Statscan, to journalists on a call to discuss the census

While the overall First Nations population grew 9.7% since 2016, growth was slower for First Nations with registered or treated Indian status at 4.1% compared to non-status and non-treated Indians. registered that grew by 27.2% since 2016.

The Métis population grew by 6.3% over the five-year period, while the Inuit population grew by 8.5%.

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