Release Plan and Concepts Overview of the 2018 Canadian Housing Survey

Table of contents

  1. Objectives of the Release Plan and Concepts Overview of the 2018 Canadian Housing Survey
  2. Description of the Canadian Housing Survey
  3. Data collection
  4. Key concepts
  5. Other concepts and definitions
  6. Questions and answers
  7. Contact information

1. Objectives of the Release Plan and Concepts Overview of the 2018 Canadian Housing Survey

The purpose of this Release Plan and Concepts Overview of the 2018 Canadian Housing Survey is to provide an overview of:

  • the products that will be available from each release of the 2018 Canadian Housing Survey (CHS),
  • the concepts, definitions and key indicators used by the CHS.

The Release Plan and Concepts Overview of the 2018 Canadian Housing Survey will help partners, stakeholders and other data users better understand the information being released.

Results from the 2018 Canadian Housing Survey (CHS) will be released over the period from November 22, 2019 to fall 2020.

This Release Plan and Concepts Overview of the 2018 Canadian Housing Survey will be updated regularly to reflect changes to the ongoing release plans for the CHS.

2. Description of the Canadian Housing Survey

The CHS is a new survey sponsored by Canada Mortgage and Housing Corporation (CMHC) that will run biennially until 2028 in every province and territory. The survey will collect new information on dwelling and neighbourhood satisfaction, first-time homebuyers and housing affordability, as well as many other important dwelling and household characteristics.

The CHS also fills a significant data gap on Social and Affordable Housing (SAH) that was identified in the 2016 "Let's Talk Housing" national consultations held by CMHC.

Data from the survey will help better measure whether Canadians have housing that meets their needs and that they can afford. The data will also provide more information to make program and policy development decisions related to housing.

Topics and products available with releases of the Canadian Housing Survey

First release: November 22, 2019

The CHS release on November 22, 2019 will provide results on the topics of dwelling satisfaction, neighbourhood satisfaction, reasons for moving, housing suitability, dwelling condition, Social and Affordable Housing (SAH) and waitlists for SAH. The following products will be available with this release:

  • Analytical products
    • Analytical article: Two articles will provide analysis focusing on housing satisfaction:
      • Satisfaction of Canadian households with their neighbourhood
      • Canadian's satisfaction with their housing
    • Infographic: This will allow users to quickly visualize key findings on reasons people move dwellings.
    • The Daily article: This will include results at the national level as well as the provincial, territorial and sub-provincial levels on housing suitability, adequacy, tenure, and waitlists for SAH. It will also include highlights from the other analytical products.
  • Data products
    • Data tables: Cross-tabulations allow for a more detailed examination of key housing indicators. The tables available with the release include:

Waitlist status including length of time, by tenure including social and affordable housing

Table description: Households on waiting list for social and affordable housing including length of wait.

Geography: Canada, provinces and territories.

  • Classification for 'Waitlist status including length of wait':
    • Total, waitlist status
      • Yes, household is on a waiting list
        • Household on a waiting list for less than two years
        • Household on a waiting list for two years or longer
      • No, household is not on a waiting list
  • Classification for 'Tenure including social and affordable housing':
    • Total, tenure including social and affordable housing
      • Owner
      • Renter
        • Renter not in social and affordable housing
        • Renter in social and affordable housing

Dwelling and neighbourhood satisfaction, by tenure including social and affordable housing and structural type of dwelling

Table description: Level of dwelling and neighbourhood satisfaction reported by the reference person (the person responsible for housing decisions), by tenure including social and affordable housing and structural type of dwelling

Geography: Canada, provinces, territories, population centres and select census metropolitan areas (CMAs) and census agglomerations (CAs)

  • Classification for 'Satisfaction with dwelling and neighbourhood':
    • Total, satisfaction with dwelling
      • Very satisfied with dwelling
      • Satisfied with dwelling
      • Neither satisfied nor dissatisfied with dwelling
      • Dissatisfied with dwelling
      • Very dissatisfied with dwelling
    • Total, satisfaction with neighbourhood
      • Very satisfied with neighbourhood
      • Satisfied with neighbourhood
      • Neither satisfied nor dissatisfied with neighbourhood
      • Dissatisfied with neighbourhood
      • Very dissatisfied with neighbourhood
  • Classification for 'Structural type of dwelling':
    • Total, structural type of dwelling
      • Single-detached house
      • Semi-detached house
      • Row house
      • Apartment or flat in a duplex
      • Apartment in a building that has five or more storeys
      • Apartment in a building that has fewer than five storeys
      • Other single-attached house
      • Moveable dwelling

Housing suitability and dwelling condition, by tenure including social and affordable housing

Table description: Households in suitable versus not suitable housing and by condition of dwelling (e.g., dwelling requiring major repairs), by tenure including social and affordable housing

Geography: Canada, provinces, territories, population centres and select census metropolitan areas (CMAs) and census agglomerations (CAs)

  • Classification for 'housing suitability and dwelling condition':
    • Total, housing suitability
      • Suitable
      • Not Suitable
    • Total, dwelling condition
      • Regular maintenance needed
      • Minor repairs needed
      • Major repairs needed

Indicators related to moving

Table description: Reasons to move and location of previous dwellings for households that moved in the past five years, and intention to move in less than five years for all households

Geography: Canada, provinces and territories.

  • Classification for 'Indicators related to moving':
    • Moved in the past 5 years
    • Moved in the past 5 years because the household was forced to move by a landlord, a bank or other financial institution or the government
    • Moved in the past 5 years due to a natural disaster or fire
    • Moved in the past 5 years for a new job or job transfer
    • Moved in the past 5 years for a new school
    • Moved in the past 5 years to form own household
    • Moved in the past 5 years to be closer to family
    • Moved in the past 5 years because of a change in household or family size
    • Moved in the past 5 years to reduce commuting time
    • Moved in the past 5 years to upgrade to a larger dwelling or better quality dwelling
    • Moved in the past 5 years to reduce housing costs
    • Moved in the past 5 years to be in a more desirable neighbourhood
    • Moved in the past 5 years for personal health reasons
    • Moved in the past 5 years to become a homeowner
    • Moved in the past 5 years for other reasons
    • Moved in the past 5 years from the same city, town, village, township, municipality or Indian reserve
    • Moved in the past 5 years from a different city, town, village, township, municipality or Indian reserve in Canada
    • Moved in the past 5 years from outside of Canada
    • Plans to move in less than 5 years

Second release: January 2020

An infographic will be released that allows users to quickly visualize key findings on first-time homebuyers.

Third release: July 2020

  • Data and reference products
    • 2018 CHS Research Data Centre (RDC) file, user guide and data dictionary

Additional releases: Summer/Fall 2020

The remaining results from the survey will be released and will include the topics of housing affordability and core housing need. The following products will be available with this release:

  • Analytical products
    • An article focusing on core housing need.
  • Data products
    • Data tables: Tables on housing affordability and core housing need.
  • Data and reference products
    • 2018 CHS Public Use Microdata File (PUMF), user guide and data dictionary

3. Data collection

Information about the survey methodology is available on Statistics Canada's webpage for the Canadian Housing Survey. This section highlights key aspects related to data collection that help data users understand the information being released.

Who answered for the household?

Reference person of the responding household

One person (the 'reference person') in each sampled household was asked to complete the questionnaire. The reference person is the household member that is responsible for housing decisions. In cases where members share responsibility for housing decisions, one person is chosen to be the reference person.

Survey questions about housing views, opinions and experiences are based on the perspective of the reference person and do not represent the perspective of all members of the household. Specifically, survey topics that reflect the perspective of the reference person include: dwelling satisfaction, neighbourhood satisfaction, sense of safety, perceptions of crime, reasons for moving, intentions to move, volunteering, civic engagement, life satisfaction, sense of belonging to the community, self-assessed health, and, homelessness experience.

Data collection in Northwest Territories (N.W.T.)

The CHS data for N.W.T. is obtained through a partnership with NWT Bureau of Statistics. In lieu of collecting the CHS in N.W.T., data is obtained from the 2019 NWT Community Survey (NCS)—which collects housing information similar to the information collected on the CHS.

The NCS is a survey conducted every five years by the NWT Bureau of Statistics. The 2019 NCS is collected over a similar period as the CHS collection period. It is collected across all communities in N.W.T., including communities where data for CHS is needed.

Through an agreement with NWT Bureau of Statistics to integrate their survey data into the CHS, there is improved efficiency in data collection, reduced survey burden on households and more data for N.W.T. Some questions included in the CHS are not collected in the NCS because of the need to balance data needs of both surveys with respondent burden. A technical report will be released after fall 2020 that examines the integration and comparability of the data from the NCS and CHS.

Target population and sample size

The target population is private households across all provinces and territories of Canada. The sampling unit for the CHS is the dwelling. The CHS sample consists of about 125,000 dwellings. About 61,000 complete survey responses were received over the collection period of October 31, 2018 to March 31, 2019.

Excluded from the survey are collective dwellings, such as nursing homes, seniors' residences, shelters, etc.

The sample for the CHS is a stratified random sample. The strata are defined based on the domains of interest for the survey. For a list of the specific domains of interest, see Statistics Canada's CHS webpage.

The objective of the stratification is to obtain enough survey observations in specific geographic areas and among specific groups in order to create precise estimates for the domains of interest. Overall, the CHS oversamples—when compared to the proportion of dwellings in the country—dwellings that are social and affordable housing and dwellings outside census metropolitan areas.

4. Key concepts

First release: November 22, 2019

The November 22, 2019 release refers to several housing concepts that are defined below.

Dwelling satisfaction of the reference person

'Dwelling satisfaction' refers to the reference person's subjective assessment of their satisfaction with their dwelling. Respondents are asked to rate their overall satisfaction on a five-point scale: "very satisfied", "satisfied", "neither satisfied or dissatisfied", "dissatisfied" and "very dissatisfied".

Dwelling satisfaction of the reference persons is an important indicator because reference persons play an important role in housing decisions. Their perspectives on their dwelling can influence decisions to relocate or renovate, which can affect housing markets. Furthermore, integration of data on perceptions with traditional housing indicators—like core housing need—provides more information to measure whether housing needs are met.

Neighbourhood satisfaction of the reference person

'Neighbourhood satisfaction' refers to the reference persons' subjective assessment of their satisfaction with of their neighbourhood. Respondents are asked to rate their overall satisfaction on a five-point scale: "very satisfied", "satisfied", "neither satisfied or dissatisfied", "dissatisfied" and "very dissatisfied". The neighbourhood refers to the area surrounding the home.

As with dwelling satisfaction, neighbourhood satisfaction is an important indicator because it is related to housing decisions and housing need. Moreover, neighbourhoods and people's perception of their neighbourhood are linked to concepts such as social inclusion. Indicators on neighbourhood satisfaction can inform policies on creating inclusive communities.

For households in N.W.T., because data is integrated from the NCS, the neighbourhood satisfaction refers to the satisfaction with the community.

Reasons for moving of the reference person

'Reasons for moving' refers to the reference person's expressed reasons for moving dwellings. Respondents are asked for all reasons relating to their most recent housing move and the reason for the next intended move. Contextual information is also collected on when the last move occurred and when the next intended move is planned. Lastly, information is also gathered on whether or not household members are moving together as a unit to provide a more complete picture of people's housing trajectories.

'Reasons for moving' is an important concept because it is at the heart of the issue of whether Canadians have housing that meets their needs and wants. Relocating is one way households address their housing issues or unmet needs. The reasons for moving can inform housing policies designed to address housing needs.

Housing suitability

'Housing suitability' refers to whether a private household is living in suitable accommodations according to the National Occupancy Standard (NOS); that is, whether the dwelling has enough bedrooms for the size and composition of the household. A household is deemed to be living in suitable accommodation if its dwelling has enough bedrooms, as calculated using the NOS.

The NOS derives the number of bedrooms a household requires as follows:

  • A maximum of two persons per bedroom.
  • Household members, of any age, living as part of a married or common-law couple share a bedroom with their spouse or common-law partner.
  • Lone parents, of any age, have a separate bedroom.
  • Household members aged 18 or over have a separate bedroom, except those living as part of a married or common-law couple.
  • Household members under 18 years of age of the same sex share a bedroom, except lone parents and those living as part of a married or common-law couple.
  • Household members under 5 years of age of the opposite sex share a bedroom if doing so would reduce the number of required bedrooms. This situation would arise only in households with an odd number of males under 18, an odd number of females under 18, and at least one female and one male under the age of 5.
  • An exception to the above is a household consisting of one individual living alone. Such a household would not need a bedroom (i.e., the individual may live in a studio apartment and be considered to be living in suitable accommodation).

For households in N.W.T., because data is integrated from the NCS, gender is used in lieu of sex in the above rules for the NOS.

Housing suitability is another key housing indicator and topic of interest for governments and housing organizations. Housing suitability is one of the housing standards included in CMHC's core housing need indicator.

Dwelling condition

'Dwelling condition' refers to whether the dwelling is in need of repairs. This does not include desirable remodelling or additions. Respondents classify their dwelling into one of three groups: needing regular maintenance only, needing minor repairs and needing major repairs.

Dwellings in need of major repairs are considered an indicator of inadequate housing by housing organizations, including CMHC. Major repairs include those to the dwelling structure or the major systems of the dwelling (heating, plumbing and electrical). The CHS questionnaire provided the following examples where 'major repairs' are needed: defective plumbing or electrical wiring, structural repairs to walls, floors or ceilings, etc.

Housing adequacy (as measured by 'dwelling condition') is a key housing indicator and topic of interest for governments and housing organizations. Combining housing adequacy with other information helps governments and organizations understand the state of housing in Canada. As with housing suitability, housing adequacy is also one of the housing standards included in CMHC's core housing need indicator.

Waitlist for social and affordable housing

Being on a 'waitlist for social and affordable housing' refers to the situation where people are seeking access to SAH by putting their names on a list. In the CHS, respondents are asked if anyone in the household is on a waitlist and how long they have been on the waitlist.

Indicators related to waitlists provide information on one of the most common ways that households access SAH. Combined with other housing data, it helps better understand the need for and provision of SAH.

Indicators related to waitlists do not fully represent the demand for SAH for reasons such as:

  • Some households may be unaware of the existence of SAH or the process to get on the waitlist;
  • Some households may not meet eligibility criteria despite being in need;
  • Not all providers of SAH utilize waitlists systems.

Moreover, waitlists can be administered differently from one jurisdiction to the next. As a result, the extent to which waitlists statistics are affected by the above mentioned items can vary across jurisdictions. When comparing waitlists statistics across jurisdictions, it is important to take into consideration differences in the administration of the waitlists.

Second release: January 2020

The following key housing concepts will be available with the release in January 2020.

First-time homebuyers

First-time homebuyers refers to individuals that purchase a home to live in and did not own a home at any time before the purchase. Households are classified as first-time homebuyers if the purchaser and, where applicable, the cohabitating spouse at the time of the purchase are both first-time homebuyers.

Variations to the concept exists for different purposes. Specifically, an individual who has not owned—and the spouse or common-law partner has not owned—a home for the last four-years period are eligible for Canada Revenue Agency's first-time homebuyers' tax incentives.

CMHC considers first-time homebuyers to include individuals that rented or lived rent-free at their previous residence.

Additional releases: Summer/Fall 2020

The following key housing concepts will be available with the release in summer/fall 2020.

Core housing need

A household is said to be in 'core housing need' if its housing falls below at least one of the adequacy, affordability or suitability standards and it would have to spend 30% or more of its total before-tax income to pay the median rent of alternative local housing that is acceptable (meets all three housing standards).

Housing standards are defined as follows:

  • Adequate housing is reported by their residents as not requiring any major repairs.
  • Affordable housing has shelter costs equal to less than 30% of total before-tax household income.
  • Suitable housing has enough bedrooms for the size and composition of resident households according to National Occupancy Standard (NOS) requirements.

Only private, non-farm, non-reserve and owner- or renter-households with incomes greater than zero and shelter-cost-to-income ratios less than 100% are assessed for 'core housing need.'

Non-family households with a reference person aged 15 to 29 attending school are considered not to be in 'core housing need' regardless of their housing circumstances. Attending school is considered a transitional phase, and low incomes earned by student households are viewed as being a temporary condition.

Housing affordability

The shelter-cost-to-income ratio, a measure of housing affordability, refers to the proportion of before-tax household income that is spent on shelter costs. Shelter costs for owner households include, where applicable, mortgage payments, property taxes and condominium fees, along with the costs of electricity, heat, water and other municipal services. For renter households, shelter costs include, where applicable, the rent and the costs of electricity, heat, water and other municipal services.

The classification related to housing affordability is whether the occupants of the dwelling paid 30% or more of before-tax household income towards shelter costs. In 1986, CMHC and the provinces agreed to use the 30% threshold to measure affordability for the purposes of defining need for social housing. This agreement was reached during the development of the federal/provincial social housing programs. Research on housing affordability in the territories often uses the same threshold.

As with housing adequacy and housing suitability, housing affordability is also one of the housing standards included in CMHC's core housing need indicator.

Neighbourhood characteristics from other data sources

Neighbourhood characteristics from other sources refers to statistics about neighbourhoods that are available from other sources and that can be integrated with the CHS data.

The following neighbourhood characteristics are being developed and will be available with the CHS data:

  • Proximity measures to social infrastructure: Open source data on neighbourhood features (such as transit or parks) and Statistics Canada's Business Register will be integrated with the CHS data to indicate how far survey respondents are located from certain neighbourhood features and businesses.
  • Income distribution in the neighbourhood: Administrative income data of families in a building, local area or neighbourhood will be integrated with the CHS data to indicate the extent to which survey respondents are living in an area with a mix of different income levels.

5. Other concepts and definitions

Social and affordable housing

Social and Affordable Housing (SAH) refers to "non-market rental housing" (i.e., where housing allocation and rent-setting mechanisms are not entirely dictated by the law of supply and demand).

Since SAH providers typically aim at providing housing assistance to low or moderate income households at large, examples of housing units excluded from this definition include:

  • Staff housing (i.e., housing provided by the employer) or family-subsidized housing with below-market rents
  • Housing units at market-rent provided by housing co-operatives, non-profit organizations and government entities

Note that a household receiving a housing subsidy (e.g., receiving a portable rent supplement) towards any market rental of its choice is not considered to be in SAH.

Due to the numerous and complex types of funding programs and agreements for SAH, households may not know that they are in SAH. The CHS collects information from the respondent about the presence of housing subsidies, the subsidy provider and the landlord to derive whether the housing is SAH.

In the results of the CHS, a household is defined as being in SAH if the respondent indicates either:

  1. the rent is subsidized; or,
  2. the respondent reports income to determine rent assistance and the landlord is a co-operative, not-for-profit organization or government. Rent-geared-to-income housing is an example where a respondent would indicate the requirement to report income to determine rent.

CHS respondents who indicate their dwelling is subsidized solely by a family member, relative or an employer are not defined as being in SAH. As well, market rental housing units provided by housing co-operatives, not-for-profit organizations and government entities are not counted as SAH in the CHS results.

In addition, the CHS target population—as described above in the Target population and sample size section—excludes collective dwellings (such as senior residences or shelters).

For households in N.W.T., because data is integrated from the NCS, a household is defined as being in SAH if either of the following occurs:

  • the dwelling is SAH based on administrative data from the NWT Bureau of Statistics and the dwelling is not owned by a member of the household; or,
  • the respondent indicates in the survey that income is reported to determine rent (such as in the case of rent-geared-to-income housing) and the landlord is one of the following:
    • NWT Housing Corporation or a local housing organization including the North Slave Housing Corporation;
    • Federal government;
    • an indigenous government or band office, such as the Inuvialuit regional Corporation, Dehcho land corporation.

Tenure

'Tenure' refers to whether the household owns or rents their private dwelling. The private dwelling may be situated on rented or leased land or be part of a condominium. A household is considered to own their dwelling if some member of the household owns the dwelling even if it is not fully paid for, for example if there is a mortgage or some other claim on it. A household is considered to rent their dwelling if no member of the household owns the dwelling. A household is considered to rent that dwelling even if the dwelling is provided without cash rent or at a reduced rent, or if the dwelling is part of a cooperative.

Structural type of dwelling

'Structural type' refers to the structural characteristics and/or dwelling configuration, that is, whether the dwelling is a single-detached house, an apartment in a high-rise building, a row house, a mobile home, etc.

Census metropolitan areas (CMAs) and census agglomerations (CAs)

In addition to making data available for Canada, the following other levels of geography will be available:

  1. For each province and territory:
    • Large urban population centres
    • Medium population centres
    • Small population centres
    • Rural areas
  2. Census metropolitan areas (CMAs):
    • St. John's, Newfoundland and Labrador
    • Halifax, Nova Scotia
    • Moncton, New Brunswick
    • Saint John, New BrunswickFootnote *
    • Québec, Quebec
    • Montréal, Quebec
    • Ottawa-Gatineau, Ontario/Quebec
    • Toronto, Ontario
    • Hamilton, Ontario
    • Kitchener-Cambridge-Waterloo, Ontario
    • Winnipeg, Manitoba
    • Regina, SaskatchewanFootnote *
    • Saskatoon, Saskatchewan
    • Lethbridge, AlbertaFootnote *
    • Calgary, Alberta
    • Edmonton, Alberta
    • Vancouver, British Columbia
    • Other combined CMAs, for each province
    • Combined Census agglomeration (CA) regions, for each province and territory
    • Regions outside of CMAs and CAs, for each province

6. Questions and answers

The Canada Mortgage and Housing Corporation is also releasing statistics on social and affordable housing. How are these data different from those produced by Statistics Canada?

The Canada Mortgage and Housing Corporation is releasing data from their "2018 Social and Affordable Housing Survey — Rental Structures (SAHS-RS)". This survey collects data from property managers and owners of social and affordable housing structures to capture characteristics of the stock.

The Canadian Housing Survey (CHS) collects information from Canadian households—including households living in social and affordable housing—to capture their housing needs and experiences.

The two surveys provide valuable and complementary information to provide a more complete picture of the supply and demand for social housing by collecting information from the perspective of the housing provider as well as the occupants.

Estimates of social and affordable housing from the two surveys may be different in certain areas for the following reasons:

  • The SAHS-RS provides statistics on the stock of social and affordable housing—which includes unoccupied dwellings; whereas, the CHS provides statistics on occupied dwellings.
  • The SAHS-RS provides statistics on the number of social and affordable housing units in buildings as long as at least some of the units are subsidized; whereas, the CHS provides statistics on the number of households in subsidized social and affordable housing. The CHS excludes households in market rental units even if other units in the building are social and affordable housing.
  • The CHS counts social and affordable housing based on responses from the household. In some instances, households in social and affordable housing may not know their rent is subsidized or that they are in social and affordable housing.
  • The CHS may capture new social housing projects or other social housing projects that are not yet reflected in the administrative data. These social housing projects would not be included in the SAHS-RS—which uses the administrative data to reach survey respondents.

What is the Canadian Housing Statistics Program and how does it relate to the Canadian Housing Survey?

In Budget 2017, the Government of Canada asked Statistics Canada to fill data gaps on housing ownership, affordability and financing. It allocated $39.9 million over five years, and $6.6 million a year thereafter, to the agency to collaborate with other federal departments and organizations to develop and implement a Canadian Housing Statistics Program and related products.

While the Canadian Housing Survey (CHS) is not part of the Canadian Housing Statistics Program, it is related to Statistics Canada's goal to provide more comprehensive statistics on housing in Canada. The CHS supports the agency's mandate by providing detailed statistical information on housing needs, social and affordable housing, satisfaction with dwelling and neighbourhood, housing moves, household social interactions with the community, and household socio-demographic characteristics.

The Canadian Housing Statistics Program uses housing information that is available from administrative data sources (e.g., property assessment data). The Canadian Housing Survey focuses on filling data gaps—such as views and experiences on housing—for which data are not available from administrative data sources. These complementary strategies help provide a complete picture on the multi-faceted topic of housing.

7. Contact information

For more information, or to enquire about the concepts, methods or data quality of this release, contact us (toll-free 1-800-263-1136; 514-283-8300; STATCAN.infostats-infostats.STATCAN@canada.ca) or Media Relations (613-951-4636; STATCAN.mediahotline-ligneinfomedias.STATCAN@canada.ca).

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