Some Facts on Housing and Poverty in Canada
When it comes to the severity of the housing crisis, homelessness and poverty in this country, the talking points of the cartel parties pledging a million units of this, 600,000 of that, show just how out of touch and non-serious they are about the problem facing the people. Housing insecurity, COVID-19 evictions, outright homelessness, overcrowded, mold and pest-infested housing, poverty and food insecurity are real problems for a significant number of Canadians. This reality is totally ignored in the numbers game played by the cartel parties. They are in fact pledging new ways to pay the rich, the bankers, mortgage brokers, developers, in the name of “housing programs” while ignoring the actual conditions faced by so many people.
Prior to the pandemic it was estimated that 12.7 per cent of the population lived with housing insecurity. There were 1.2 million people unemployed at that time. Another 1.5 million became unemployed as a result of the pandemic. As many as 25 per cent or 390,000 of those who became unemployed due to the pandemic did not qualify for CERB assistance. Homelessness, housing insecurity, food insecurity have increased significantly as a result of the impact of the pandemic.
The official definition of homelessness is not limited to those who are living on the streets or in parks and other public spaces in and around our cities. The homeless include those who take refuge in emergency shelters, those living in temporary accommodations without security of tenure, as well as those whose current economic and or housing situation is precarious or does not meet public health and safety standards.
The Canadian Institute of Child Health reports that more than a quarter of on-reserve First Nations live in overcrowded homes, a rate that is seven times greater than that of non-Indigenous people. Furthermore, 43 per cent of First Nations houses on reserve are in need of major repairs and as many as 85,000 new homes are needed. Housing conditions of Indigenous and Inuit peoples in Canada are deplorable and a source of physical and mental health problems as well as social problems.
The situation of Injured workers is another example. The Ontario Network of Injured Workers Groups reports that one in five workers lose their home after injury. One in five experience extreme poverty (income of less than $10,000 per year) after being injured and 40 per cent report income of less than $15,000 per year. Injured workers experience nearly four times the Ontario poverty rate.
According to Statistics Canada, about 3.7 million Canadians – or 10.1 per cent of the population – were living below the poverty line in 2019. Of single people not living with family, 26 per cent lived in poverty and 30 per cent of children living with a single mother lived in poverty.
Even many home owners are facing a housing affordability crisis — meaning 30 per cent or more of their before-tax income goes to housing costs. Twenty three per cent of homeowners who are servicing a mortgage find themselves in that situation while for those renting it is closer to 40 per cent. That is why 11.6 per cent of homeowners with a mortgage are at risk of food insecurity while roughly one quarter of all people paying market rents are facing food insecurity.
Housing is a right that belongs to all by virtue of being human. Every worker regardless of status, every injured worker, every person living with a disability, the unemployed and working poor are all entitled to a Canadian standard of living. Together let us build a modern Canada that guarantees the rights of all. Let no one be left behind.