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June 2002     Vol. 3, no. 6

Housing: An income issue

Sophie Lefebvre

  • In 2000, the median Canadian household spent 21% of after-tax income on housing. Owners without a mortgage spent 11%, owners with a mortgage spent 25%, and tenants spent 28%. Just over one in five tenants spent 40% or more.
  • Two-thirds of households owned the dwellings they lived in-half of them mortgage-free. Income played an important role in determining the level of ownership. Only 40% of households in the lowest income group owned their homes, compared with 85% in the highest.
  • While the majority (86%) of families lived in housing that did not need major repairs and had enough bedrooms to meet their needs, one in seven families lived in dwellings that did not meet these condition or size norms. The proportion living in dwellings below the norms was almost three times higher in the lowest income group than in the highest.
  • Households that were more likely to live in dwellings below the norms were also more likely to spend a high proportion of their income on housing. Roughly one in four tenants, lone-parent families, and lowest-income households were housed below the norms, yet they spent approximately one-third of their income on housing.
  • Compared with other families, low-income families spent proportionately twice as much of their after-tax income on housing.
  • Low-income tenants spent almost half their income on housing-those living in non-subsidized housing spent 48%, while those in government-subsidized housing spent significantly less (31%).


Sophie Lefebvre is with the Labour and Household Surveys Analysis Division. She can be reached at (613) 951-5870 or

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