While there was already an upward price trend in the housing market before the outbreak of the epidemic, this trend has accelerated in the past two years.

With the sharp rise in inflation caused by the epidemic and the impact of the war in Ukraine, Canadians have less money to spend on just about everything in life. This means that they are forced to adapt their budgets to focus on their most basic needs, the main one being housing.

While much attention has been paid to the impact of rising house prices on those looking to buy a home, the biggest impact continues to be felt on the heads of Canadians at the bottom of the income scale.

The recent federal budget announced a plan to invest billions in building new homes in Canada to help meet this need. It’s a good start but does very little to help the current situation.

Canadians looking to buy a home have been priced out of the market and those looking for a place to rent, just to keep a roof over their heads, face an even bigger challenge. With a rental market in which landlords can charge whatever they want and a strong demand for rental housing, landlords are renting to whoever comes first with the money for rent and security deposit, which a person dependent on income support programs is unlikely to be able to afford.

I have worked with people facing challenges for many years and have never seen the situation look so grim when it comes to finding accommodation. Available housing sells out quickly and the rates charged are beyond reasonable for those on income assistance. For example, I recently worked with someone who spent over two months looking for an apartment to rent. The typical unit she looked at would have cost over three quarters of her income if she had managed to get the unit. A landlord told him directly that he would not be willing to repair the faults in the dwelling because he did not need them. if she didn’t praise it, the next person would.


In the long term, all of our systems face increasing costs, but more importantly, our citizens face a diminished quality of life and the basic dignity of being able to house, feed and clothe themselves and their families. .


People need housing, and if they have to spend a much higher percentage of their income on housing, something else needs to be done. This usually means a sacrifice in the food budget, leading to increased reliance on food banks, another trend that has accelerated over the past two years.

Although food banks do an excellent job, they are not able to meet all the nutritional needs of those they serve. Over time, this leads to diminished health outcomes, which also puts greater pressure on our already overburdened healthcare system.

In the long term, all of our systems face increasing costs, but more importantly, our citizens face a diminished quality of life and the basic dignity of being able to house, feed and clothe themselves and their families. .

It all comes down to the fact that the housing situation here in Canada is not sustainable unless we do something to change the trajectory we are on. Building more homes is a good start, but it won’t solve the underlying problem if those homes aren’t affordable to those who need them most.

We are among the wealthiest nations in the world and, at the very least, our citizens should expect their basic needs to be met. How a nation treats the most vulnerable in society is a good measure of that society’s success; when it comes to housing, we have to take a long look at where we are and where we are going.


Brian Hodder works in the field of mental health and addictions.