In 2021, 11.3% of racialized Canadians were in core housing need, down 6.5% from 2016. This is according to new data from Statistics Canada (StatCan), released in response to Canada's Anti-Racism Strategy and based on data from the 2016 and 2021 censuses.

StatCan defines core housing need as “a household whose dwelling does not meet the threshold of at least one of the housing adequacy, affordability or suitability indicators and that would have to spend at least 30% of its total before-tax income on the median rent of another acceptable dwelling.”

A household in need of major repairs or without enough bedrooms to accommodate its residents would fail to meet the threshold.

Of the 10 census metropolitan areas (CMAs) with the greatest proportion of racialized persons in core housing need, six were in Ontario, including 14.3% in Ottawa–Gatineau, 14.2% in Toronto, 12.4% in London, 11.8% in Barrie, 10.9% in Guelph, and 10.2% in St. Catharines–Niagara. Conversely, six of the 10 CMAs with the lowest proportion of racialized persons in core housing need were in Quebec.

In addition, racialized immigrants were more likely to be in core housing need, at 11.4%, compared to those who were not immigrants, at 9.8%. Meanwhile, a greater proportion of immigrants arriving in Canada in the past 10 years were found to be in core housing need, at 13.2%, compared to those who arrived more than 10 years ago, at 10.5%. Of those settling in Canada in the past 10 years, West Asian, Arab, and Chinese persons were most likely to be in core housing need, at 13.2%, 21.5%, and 19.4%, respectively.

Taking immigrant status out of the equation, racialized West Asian, Korean, and Arab Canadians were most likely to be in core housing need, at 19.5%, 18.7%, and 14.9%, respectively, while Filipino, South Asian, and Japanese Canadians tended to be less likely to be in core housing need, at 5.1%, 9.1%, and 9.4%, respectively.

The data also shows that, between 2016 and 2021, the greatest declines in core housing need were observed amongst West Asian, Arab, Korean, South Asian, and Black Canadians. StatCan attributes this “in large part” to the temporary pandemic income supports, particularly with respect to those with lower incomes.

“In 2016, the West Asian, Korean and Black racialized groups were among those that posted the lowest average employment income and average weekly earnings of full-time employees," the StatCan report reads. "The additional source of income during the pandemic reduced the share of income dedicated to housing cost and contributed to improved housing conditions by allowing some people to live in more affordable housing.”

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