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For Canadians with disabilities, another housing affordability crunch

August 9, 2022, 11:00 a.m. (EDT)

The Bank of Canada upped its policy interest rate by 0.25% in the first quarter, followed by two more 0.5% hikes in the second quarter and a 1% increase in July—the highest single increase in 25 years.

Mortgage interest rates have followed suit, and this will affect Canadians applying for new mortgages, especially those with tighter household budgets amid record inflation. It could also mean a sudden uptick in monthly costs for those who have variable-rate mortgages.

On an annual basis, the cost of interest paid on mortgages has fallen by less and less over the last few months, with April through June marking the first month-over-month increases in nearly two years.

For some Canadians with disabilities, this could mean extra financial pressure—their housing experiences have been recently documented in the Statistics Canada fact sheet “Housing Experiences in Canada: Persons with disabilities”.

Data in the fact sheet from the 2016 Census and the 2017 Canadian Survey on Disability revealed that among the over 4.2 million Canadians with disabilities who owned their homes or lived with someone who owned their home, over 2.3 million lived in a dwelling with a mortgage.

Among owner-occupied dwellings with a mortgage, it is unknown how many are actually owned by persons with disabilities, or to what extent these persons contribute to mortgage costs if they are not the principal owner.

The data also showed that among this group of individuals living in owner-occupied dwellings with a mortgage, 10.4% of persons with disabilities lived in dwellings in need of major repairs, compared with 5.8% of the total population.

Furthermore, a higher proportion of persons with disabilities in owner-occupied dwellings with a mortgage (7.6%) than the total population (5.8%) were in core housing need—which means the dwelling fell below at least one of the three standards for adequacy, affordability or suitability, and the household would not have been able to afford local housing that was acceptable.

In response to a 2020 questionnaire on the impacts of the COVID-19 pandemic, over half of Canadians with long-term conditions or disabilities reported having difficulty meeting at least one financial obligation or essential need.

More recently, data from the Portrait of Canadian Society survey series collected from April 19 to May 1, 2022, showed that during the six months preceding the survey, three in four Canadians had difficulty meeting day-to-day expenses as a result of rising prices.

Record inflation

Overall consumer inflation reached 8.1% in June 2022—the largest yearly change since January 1983—and has pushed up the cost of living for Canadians across the board. The price of food purchased from stores rose 9.4%, alongside an increase in energy costs.

Costs for health and personal care (including prescriptions, supplies and equipment), a considerable expense category among Canadians with disabilities, increased 3.9% over the same period.

Persons with disabilities often have the added budgetary pressures of a fixed or limited income.

In May 2022, non-mortgage loan debt in Canada grew by $6.4 billion (+0.9%) from a month earlier to reach over $712 billion. Credit card debt and home equity lines of credit were the main contributors, suggesting that some Canadians needed to access additional credit to cover the rising costs of living.

Over the past year (June 2021 to June 2022), property taxes and other special charges (which are priced once a year, in October) have ticked up 1.5% nationwide. Home and mortgage insurance (+4.9%) and homeowners’ maintenance and repairs (+7.2%) have also increased. Water, fuel and electricity were up 14.2%—bills that are also paid by some renters. This is on top of a 4.3% increase in rent.

Looking ahead

You can help us better understand the needs of Canadians with disabilities—Statistics Canada has begun collecting information from Canadians for the 2022 Canadian Survey on Disability. Results will be released in winter 2023/2024.

Contact information

For more information, contact the Statistical Information Service (toll-free or Media Relations (