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From Igloos to Insanity: Navigating the Great Canadian Housing Crisis

Ah, housing affordability - the elusive unicorn of the real estate world. It's the topic that's always on everyone's lips, but when it comes to actually finding it, it's as if we're all searching for a mythical creature that doesn't actually exist. We hear stories of people who have managed to catch a glimpse of this elusive beast - maybe they inherited a home from their grandparents, or they found a hidden gem in a less-popular neighbourhood. But for most of us, housing affordability remains a dream that's just out of reach.

What’s Going On?

According to a report by the National Bank of Canada, the Housing Affordability Index was at its lowest level since 1990 in late 2020. This means that people are having to spend more of their income on things like mortgage payments, property taxes, and utilities just to keep a roof over their heads.

A big part of the problem is that there are more people looking for houses than there are houses available. Low-interest rates have made it easier for people to borrow money to buy homes, but this has also driven up demand, and the supply of available homes hasn't been able to keep up. On top of that, the cost of renting is also going up faster than people's wages. A recent study found that in 2020, the average rent for a one-bedroom apartment in Canada went up by 5.5%, while the average wage for low-income workers only went up by 0.5%.

Home prices have been climbing at an eye-watering rate, with the average price of a home in Canada soaring by 25% between 2015 and 2020. According to a recent report by RBC, the average price of a home is now a whopping 7.2 times the average household income! In fact, the average household spends a mind-boggling 45% of their income just to keep a roof over their heads! That's like saying goodbye to almost half of your paycheck every month, just to pay rent or mortgage, property taxes, and utilities. These are just a few examples of how housing affordability is becoming a real issue in Canada.

United Nations

Canada's housing crisis has recently caught the attention of the United Nations, and it's not hard to see why. With skyrocketing housing prices and an increasing number of people facing homelessness, it's clear that this is a problem that needs urgent attention. In fact, the UN Special Rapporteur on Adequate Housing, Leilani Farha, has criticized Canada's housing policies, stating that they fail to protect the most vulnerable members of society. She has called for the Canadian government to take action to ensure that everyone has access to safe and affordable housing.

What is the Government Doing?

The National Housing Strategy (NHS) is a comprehensive plan launched by the Canadian government in 2017 to address the housing affordability crisis in Canada. The strategy aims to help vulnerable populations, reduce chronic homelessness, and improve the availability and quality of affordable housing across the country. The NHS includes several key initiatives, such as:

  • The Canada Housing Benefit: a portable benefit that provides direct financial assistance to low-income households.
  • The National Housing Co-Investment Fund: a $13.2 billion fund that provides low-cost loans and contributions to support the construction, repair, and renewal of affordable housing.
  • The Federal Community Housing Initiative: a $4 billion program that supports the repair and renewal of existing social housing and helps non-profit housing providers preserve their affordable housing stock.
  • The Rapid Housing Initiative: a $1 billion program launched in 2020 to rapidly create new affordable housing units for vulnerable populations.

Overall, the National Housing Strategy represents a significant commitment by the Canadian government to address the housing affordability crisis and improve the availability and quality of affordable housing for all Canadians.

First-Time Home Buyer Incentive

The First-Time Home Buyer Incentive is a program offered by the Canadian government to help first-time home buyers purchase a home. This program was introduced in 2019 as a part of the government's efforts to make home ownership more affordable for Canadians.

The incentive works by providing eligible home buyers with a shared equity mortgage. This means that the government will provide up to 10% of the purchase price of a new home, or 5% for an existing home, in the form of a loan. This loan is interest-free and does not require ongoing payments but must be repaid when the home is sold or within 25 years. By reducing the amount of money that a first-time home buyer needs to borrow, this program can help make monthly mortgage payments more affordable. It also allows buyers to put down a smaller down payment and reduces the amount of mortgage insurance they need to pay.

To be eligible for the First-Time Home Buyer Incentive, a buyer must have a household income of less than $120,000 per year and must be a first-time home buyer (or have not owned a home in the last four years). The property being purchased must also be the buyer's primary residence.


Affordable housing, the game of whack-a-mole that we all wish we could win. Just when you think you've finally found that perfect, budget-friendly apartment or starter home, it disappears like a pesky mole that's just out of reach. It's enough to make you want to throw down the mallet and give up altogether. But don't despair, my friends! With the help of a savvy real estate agent or mortgage broker, you might just be able to whack that elusive affordable housing mole once and for all. So, keep swinging, and let's hope we can all come out on top!