Canadian housing (un)affordability

Richard Irwin |

RBC recently released some stats on accommodation affordability in Canada, which paints a rather grim picture. Here is a breakdown of the cost of buying a single-family home by province and the percentage of after-tax monthly income that average mortgage payments consume. This is not sustainable.     

In the US, most homeowners are still protected under the most popular mortgage option in that market: 30-year fixed-rate mortgages. In Canada, we have shorter duration mortgages, most of which are still to renew, and the prevalence of variable rate mortgages has meant that the pain has been acute for Canadians. 

The situation is equally grim for rentals. Halifax is actually the third highest rental market in Canada despite not having the economic health of major cities like Toronto and Vancouver.  

Canada has been hit with a trifecta of problems that have exacerbated inflation & the housing affordability crisis. Federally set immigration policies not in coordination with provinces and municipalities on what the infrastructure, health care, education, and housing starts could handle is one. Canadaès chronically weak productivity is another. The vulnerability of the consumer, due to the makeup of our mortgage market, is also a considerable problem and one that is likely to continue as low-rate COVID-era mortgages renew over the next two years.