In news that isn't exactly surprising, numbers from Statistics Canada’s (StatCan) Census confirm that Canada's supply of homes has not kept up with population growth over the 2016–21 period.

This is despite a pandemic-inspired dip in immigration upon the onset of COVID-19.

Of course, this imbalance is only compounding Canada’s dramatic housing affordability crisis -- one fuelled in part by a relentless lack of supply that’s left few corners of the country untouched. 

Drawing upon StatCan’s population estimates, the ratio of homes to population fell during the 2016–21 period, highlights economist Jean-François Perrault in a new report from Scotiabank Economics. 

This is reflected both throughout the country on a national level, as well as in most provinces and the 20 largest Census Metropolitan Areas (CMAs). 

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“While some commentators have pointed to the Census as proof that the situation is getting marginally better, a more detailed look at the number suggests otherwise,” writes Perrault. “Despite registering the slowest rate of population growth since 1972, the Census reveals that the imbalance between supply and demand for housing has increased nationwide, in most provinces and the 20 largest Census Metropolitan Areas. We do not appear to be making progress.”


While the Census’s population count under-estimates figures by roughly 1M residents -- something likely not widely known -- the more telling StatCan figures adjust for this, says Perrault. The StatCan figures are also the only ones available on a monthly, quarterly, and annual basis. “For these reasons, we used this measure of population in our previous work on this subject and continue to believe they represent the best basis for analysis,” says Perrault. 

Drawing on the 2021 Census for the total number of private dwellings in relation to the 2016 and 2021 population figures, the ratio of homes to population has declined marginally at the national level. In short, zero progress has been made to close 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 the supply of dwellings by all levels of government will lead to a better balance between supply and demand in time,” writes Perrault. “The most recent Census is a clear indication that we have yet to make progress in meeting the housing needs of Canadians.”

Here's to hoping.

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