Housing Statistics in Canada
Housing experiences in Canada: South Asian people in 2018

Release date: November 22, 2021

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The Housing experiences in Canada series of fact sheets highlights the diversity of housing situations experienced by different groups of people living across Canada.

Highlights from the 2016 Census: South Asian population

Description for Figure 1

Highlights from the 2016 Census: South Asian population

  • Percent of the population: 5.6%
  • Average age: 34 years
  • Median household incomeNote 1: $81,453
  • Unemployment rate: 9.2%
  • Percent in rural areas: 1.9%
  • Percent who are immigrants: 65.0%

This fact sheet focuses on the South Asian population living in private dwellings. Statistics below are derived from the 2018 Canadian Housing Survey (CHS). For the purposes of this analysis, South Asian people were identified based on survey responses of the reference person for the household.Note 1 The reference person provides information on the characteristics of each household member. More fact sheets are available on the Housing experiences in Canada series issue page.

The National Housing Strategy Act (2019) declared that “the right to adequate housing is a fundamental human right affirmed in international law.” Adequate housing is understood in international law as housing that provides secure tenure; is affordable; is habitable; provides access to basic infrastructure; is located close to employment, services and amenities; is accessible for people of all abilities; and is culturally appropriate.

This fact sheet focuses on the experience of South Asian people living in private dwellings, using the following indicators collected and produced by Statistics Canada. These are: tenure status of household, shelter costs, housing affordability, housing suitability, condition of dwelling, core housing need, dwelling satisfaction, neighbourhood satisfaction, and household living arrangements.

While these indicators together do not perfectly measure adequate housing as defined in international law, they are nevertheless useful proxies for understanding the housing experiences of people living in Canada.

Tenure status of household

The tenure status of a household refers to whether the household owns or rents its private dwelling.Note 2 Homeownership is an important aspect of Canadian society and can affect outcomes for many housing indicators. For this reason, owner and renter households are often considered separately in housing analyses. In many cases, researchers further examine whether households in owner-occupied dwellings have mortgages on their dwellings and whether renter households pay subsidized rent.

According to the 2018 CHS, 74% of 2,319,400 South Asian people lived in a private dwelling owned by a member of their household in 2018. This was comparable to the share of the total population (73%) living in owner-occupied dwellings.

The 1,726,600 South Asian people who owned or lived with someone who owned their homes can be further divided into the 1,423,000 South Asian people (61%) who lived in a dwelling with a mortgage and the remaining 303,500 South Asian people (13%) who lived in a dwelling without a mortgage. South Asian people were less likely to live in an owner-occupied dwelling without a mortgage than the total population (25%).

The remaining 592,900 South Asian people who lived in rented dwellings can be further divided into the 67,300 South Asian people (3%) living in subsidized housing and the 525,500 South Asian people (23%) not living in subsidized housing. These proportions are very similar to the total population, where 3% of individuals lived in rented dwellings with a subsidy and 24% in rented dwellings without a subsidy.


Table 1
Tenure status of private households for the population in private dwellings, Canada, 2018
Table summary
This table displays the results of Tenure status of private households for the population in private dwellings South Asian population and Total population, calculated using count and percent units of measure (appearing as column headers).
South Asian population Total population
count percent count percent
Total, tenure status 2,319,400 100 36,444,100 100
Owner 1,726,600 74 26,694,500 73
With a mortgage 1,423,000 61Note * 17,696,300 49
Without a mortgage 303,500 13Note * 8,998,100 25
Renter 592,900 26 9,749,700 27
Subsidized housing 67,300 3 1,160,700 3
Not subsidized housing 525,500 23 8,570,300 24

Shelter costs

Shelter costs refer to the monthly dwelling-related expenses paid by households, including mortgage or rent. For owner-occupied dwellings, shelter costs 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, rent and the costs of electricity, heat, water and other municipal services.

In Canada, the median shelter cost paid by South Asian households was $1,630 in 2018.Note 3 This was higher than the median shelter cost of $1,050 for all private households.

South Asian households in owner-occupied and rented dwellings also had higher median shelter costs than their counterparts in all households. The median shelter cost paid by South Asian households in owner-occupied dwellings was $1,990, compared with $1,140 for all households. For South Asian households in rented dwellings, the median shelter cost was $1,130, compared to $960 for all households.

The median shelter cost paid by households in owner-occupied dwellings are typically larger when there is a mortgage on the dwelling, because a mortgage can represent a large portion of monthly shelter costs. South Asian households with a mortgage on their dwelling ($2,300) paid more per month in median shelter costs than all households in owner-occupied dwellings with a mortgage ($1,770). Median shelter costs for South Asian households in owner-occupied dwellings without a mortgage ($710) were higher than those for all owner households without a mortgage ($540).

Similarly, the median shelter cost paid by renter households usually depends on the presence of a rent subsidy.Note 4 Median shelter costs for South Asian households in rented dwellings without a subsidy ($1,190) were higher than the shelter costs for all households in rented dwellings without a subsidy ($1,010).Note 5


Table 2
Monthly shelter costs for the population in private dwellings, Canada, 2018
Table summary
This table displays the results of Monthly shelter costs for the population in private dwellings South Asian households and All households, calculated using median (dollars) units of measure (appearing as column headers).
South Asian households All households
median (dollars)
Total, tenure status 1,630Note * 1,050
Owner 1,990Note * Table 2 Note  Table 2 Note  1,140
With a mortgage 2,300Note * Table 2 Note  Table 2 Note  1,770
Without a mortgage 710Note * Table 2 Note  Table 2 Note  540
Renter 1,130Note * Table 2 Note  Table 2 Note  960
Subsidized housing 540Table 2 Note  Table 2 Note  530
Not subsidized housing 1,190Note * Table 2 Note  1,010

Housing affordability

Housing affordability is derived using the shelter-cost-to-income ratio, which refers to the proportion of average total income households spend on shelter costs. A household is said to have affordable housing if it spends less than 30% of its total income on shelter costs.Note 6

According to the 2018 CHS, 581,900 South Asian people (26%) lived in households that spent more than 30% of their total household income on shelter. This was higher than the 18% of the total population who lived in private households which spent more than 30% of their total household income on shelter.

South Asian people in owner-occupied dwellings (27%) were more likely to be in unaffordable housing than the total population in owner-occupied dwellings (15%).

Focusing on South Asian people in owner-occupied dwellings, those in households with a mortgage experienced unaffordable housing at a higher rate than the total population. The proportion of South Asian people living in unaffordable housing was 33% for those in households with a mortgage and 21% for the total population.Note 7

When considering those living in rented dwellings, differences in the rates of unaffordable housing between South Asian people and the total population, regardless of the presence of a housing subsidy, were not statistically significant.


Table 3
Unaffordable housing for the population in private dwellings, Canada, 2018
Table summary
This table displays the results of Unaffordable housing for the population in private dwellings South Asian population and Total population, calculated using count and percent units of measure (appearing as column headers).
South Asian population Total population
count percent count percent
Total, shelter-cost-to-income ratioTable 3 Note 1 2,264,500 100 35,669,100 100
Spending more than 30% of income on shelter costs 581,900 26Note * 6,400,200 18
Owner 459,300 27Note * 3,895,800 15
With a mortgage 446,700 33Note * Table 3 Note  3,568,600 21
Without a mortgage 12,700 4Table 3 Note  Table 3 Note  327,200 4
Renter 122,600 21 2,504,400 26
Subsidized housing 15,400 23 269,500 23
Not subsidized housing 107,200 21 2,232,300 26

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. The indicator assesses the required number of bedrooms for a household based on the age and sex of household members, and the relationships between them.

According to the 2018 CHS, 582,600 South Asian people (25%) were in unsuitable housing, meaning that there were not enough bedrooms in the dwelling to meet the needs of their household, according to the NOS. This is higher than the 9% of the total population living in unsuitable housing.

South Asian people in owner-occupied dwellings (18%) were more likely to be in unsuitable housing than the total population in owner-occupied dwellings (6%). This difference was also reflected in rented dwellings, where the share of South Asian people living in rented dwellings (46%) that were unsuitable was higher than the share for the total population (19%).

When owner-occupied dwellings are differentiated by the presence of a mortgage, South Asian people living in dwellings with a mortgage (21%) experienced unsuitable housing at a higher rate than the total population in dwellings with a mortgage (7%).Note 8

South Asian people in rented dwellings without a subsidy (47%) had higher rates of unsuitable housing than the total population (18%).Note 9


Table 4
Housing suitability for the population in private dwellings, Canada, 2018
Table summary
This table displays the results of Housing suitability for the population in private dwellings South Asian population and Total population, calculated using count and percent units of measure (appearing as column headers).
South Asian population Total population
count percent count percent
Total, housing suitability 2,319,400 100 36,444,100 100
Not suitable 582,600 25Note * 3,408,400 9
Owner 312,700 18Note * Table 4 Note  1,599,500 6
With a mortgage 292,200 21Note * Table 4 Note  1,307,600 7
Without a mortgage 20,500 7Table 4 Note  Table 4 Note  291,900 3
Renter 269,900 46Note * Table 4 Note  Table 4 Note  1,808,900 19
Subsidized housing 24,100 36 227,000 20
Not subsidized housing 245,800 47Note * 1,578,200 18

Condition of dwelling

Data on condition of dwelling are used to provide some insight into whether housing is habitable. Dwellings are classified into three groups by condition: needing regular maintenance only, needing minor repairs and needing major repairs. Dwellings in need of major repairs are considered to be inadequate housing. Examples of dwellings in need of major repairs include homes with defective plumbing or electrical wiring, and housing needing structural repairs to walls, floors or ceilings.

In 2018, according to the CHS, 4% of all South Asian people lived in private dwellings that were in need of major repairs. This is lower than the 7% of the total population that lived in dwellings in need of major repairs.

South Asian people in owner-occupied dwellings (3%) lived in dwellings in need of major repairs at a lower rate than the total population (6%). This difference was also present among South Asian people in rented dwellings (6%), where the proportion of individuals living in dwellings in need of major repairs was lower than the total population (9%).

Similarly, South Asian people in owner-occupied dwellings with a mortgage (3%) were less likely to live in a dwelling in need of major repairs than the total population (7%). South Asian people in owner-occupied dwellings without a mortgage (1%) were also less likely to live in a dwelling in need of major repairs than the total population (5%).Note 10

Among South Asian people in rented dwellings without a subsidy, 5% were in dwellings in need of major repair.Note 11 This was lower than the proportion of the total population in rented dwellings without a subsidy (9%) living in dwellings in need of major repairs.


Table 5
Condition of dwelling for the population in private dwellings, Canada, 2018
Table summary
This table displays the results of Condition of dwelling for the population in private dwellings South Asian population and Total population, calculated using count and percent units of measure (appearing as column headers).
South Asian population Total population
count percent count percent
Total, dwelling condition 2,319,400 100 36,444,100 100
Dwelling in need of major repairs 87,400 4Note * 2,556,400 7
Owner 51,400 3Note * 1,657,400 6
With a mortgage 48,500 3Note * 1,162,500 7
Without a mortgage 3,000 1Note * 494,900 5
Renter 35,900 6Note * 899,000 9
Subsidized housing 10,100 15 134,000 12
Not subsidized housing 25,900 5Note * 761,800 9

Core housing need

Core housing need touches on several elements of the right to adequate housing. It considers whether the affordability, suitability, and condition of dwelling needs of the household are being met and if not, whether affordable rental housing is available that meets all these needs. A household is said to be in core housing need if their dwelling falls below at least one of the affordability, suitability, or condition of dwelling standards, and would have to spend 30% or more of their total before-tax income to pay the median rent of alternative local housing that is acceptable (meets all three housing standards).

According to the 2018 CHS, 12% of South Asian people were living in households in core housing need. The core housing need rate for the total population was 9%, but the difference was not statistically significant.

South Asian people in owner-occupied dwellings (9%) were less likely to be in core housing need than South Asian people in rented dwellings (22%). This relationship between owner and renter households mirrored that of the total population. The proportion of the total population in owner-occupied dwellings in core housing need was 5%, while for the population in rented dwellings, the rate was 19%.

Differences in the rates of core housing need between South Asian people and the total population in rented dwellings by presence of a housing subsidy were not statistically significant.


Table 6
Core housing need status for the population in private dwellings, Canada, 2018
Table summary
This table displays the results of Core housing need status for the population in private dwellings South Asian population and Total population, calculated using count and percent units of measure (appearing as column headers).
South Asian population Total population
count percent count percent
Total, core housing needTable 6 Note 1 2,252,700 100 35,128,000 100
In core housing need 278,100 12 3,151,900 9
Owner 148,400 9Table 6 Note  1,358,700 5
With a mortgage Note x: suppressed to meet the confidentiality requirements of the Statistics Act Note x: suppressed to meet the confidentiality requirements of the Statistics Act 982,800 6
Without a mortgage Note x: suppressed to meet the confidentiality requirements of the Statistics Act Note x: suppressed to meet the confidentiality requirements of the Statistics Act 375,900 4
Renter 129,800 22Table 6 Note  Table 6 Note  1,793,200 19
Subsidized housing 27,400 41 342,000 30
Not subsidized housing 102,400 20 1,447,300 18

Housing experiences of South Asian men and women

In 1995, the Government of Canada committed to using GBA+ to advance gender equality in Canada, as part of the ratification of the United Nations’ Beijing Platform for Action.

Gender equality is enshrined in the Charter of Rights and Freedoms, which is part of the Constitution of Canada. Gender equality means that diverse groups of women, men and gender diverse people are able to participate fully in all spheres of Canadian life, contributing to an inclusive and democratic society.

GBA+ is an analytical process used to assess how diverse groups of women, men, and gender diverse people may experience policies, programs and initiatives. The “plus” in GBA+ is not just about differences between people on the basis of gender. We all have multiple characteristics that intersect and contribute to who we are. GBA+ considers many other identity factors such as race, ethnicity, immigrant status, religion, age, presence of mental or physical disability, and how the interaction between these factors influences the way we experience government policies and initiatives.

The data presented here highlights differences in housing experiences for South Asian men and women. Compared to South Asian men, South Asian women were just as likely to live in owner-occupied dwellings, unaffordable housing, unsuitable housing, dwellings requiring major repairs, and be in core housing need.


Table 7
Housing indicators for South Asian men and women, Canada, 2018
Table summary
This table displays the results of Housing indicators for South Asian men and women South Asian men and South Asian women, calculated using percent units of measure (appearing as column headers).
South Asian men South Asian women
percent
In an owner-occupied dwelling 74 75
In household spending 30% or more of income on shelter costs 25 27
In unsuitable housing 25 26
In dwelling requiring major repairs 4 4
In core housing need 12 13

More information on GBA+ can be found at the Government of Canada’s Status of Women web page.

More information on the housing experiences of other subpopulations broken down by age and gender groups, immigrant status, population groups designated as visible minorities, Indigenous populations and other groups can be found in the additional fact sheets on the Housing experiences in Canada issue page. Additional data products that focus more on an intersectional GBA+ analysis of housing experiences will also be released through the Housing experiences in Canada issue page as they become available.

Dwelling satisfaction

According to the 2018 CHS, approximately 75% of South Asian people were in homes where the reference person said that they were satisfied with their dwelling. This is lower than the proportion of the total population satisfied with their dwelling (82%).

By tenure, 81% of South Asian people in owner-occupied dwellings lived in households where the reference person was satisfied with the dwelling. This is lower than the 87% of the total population in owner-occupied dwellings where the reference person was satisfied. For South Asian people in rented dwellings (59%), the rate of dwelling satisfaction was also lower than the total population in rented dwellings (69%).

Differences in the rates of dwelling satisfaction between South Asian people and the total population in owner-occupied dwellings by presence of a mortgage were not statistically significant.

For South Asian people in rented dwellings without a subsidy (57%), the rate of dwelling satisfaction was lower than the total population in dwellings without a subsidy (69%).Note 12


Table 8
Overall dwelling satisfaction for the population in private dwellings, Canada, 2018
Table summary
This table displays the results of Overall dwelling satisfaction for the population in private dwellings South Asian population and Total population, calculated using count and percent units of measure (appearing as column headers).
South Asian population Total population
count percent count percent
Total, overall dwelling satisfaction 2,319,400 100 36,444,100 100
Satisfied (or very satisfied) with dwelling overall 1,742,200 75Note * 29,977,600 82
Owner 1,394,700 81Note * Table 8 Note  23,295,900 87
With a mortgage 1,165,200 82 15,267,800 86
Without a mortgage 229,500 76 8,028,100 89
Renter 347,500 59Note * Table 8 Note  Table 8 Note  6,681,700 69
Subsidized housing 48,000 71 775,800 67
Not subsidized housing 299,400 57Note * 5,892,600 69

Neighbourhood satisfaction

At the time of the 2018 CHS, 81% of South Asian people lived in households where the reference person indicated that they were satisfied with their neighbourhood. This is lower than the proportion of the total population satisfied with their neighbourhood (86%).

By tenure, 83% of South Asian people in owner-occupied dwellings lived in households where the reference person was satisfied with their neighbourhood. This is lower than the 88% of the total population in owner-occupied dwellings where the reference person was satisfied.

South Asian people who lived in an owner-occupied dwelling without a mortgage (73%) were less likely to be satisfied with their neighbourhood than their counterparts in the total population (89%).Note 13

Differences in the rates of neighbourhood satisfaction between South Asian people and the total population in rented dwellings by presence of a housing subsidy were not statistically significant.


Table 9
Overall neighbourhood satisfaction for the population in private dwellings, Canada, 2018
Table summary
This table displays the results of Overall neighbourhood satisfaction for the population in private dwellings South Asian population and Total population, calculated using count and percent units of measure (appearing as column headers).
South Asian population Total population
count percent count percent
Total, overall neighbourhood satisfaction 2,319,400 100 36,444,100 100
Satisfied (or very satisfied) with neighbourhood overall 1,886,700 81Note * 31,255,800 86
Owner 1,428,600 83Note * 23,504,200 88
With a mortgage 1,206,100 85 15,494,800 88
Without a mortgage 222,500 73Note * 8,009,400 89
Renter 458,100 77 7,751,600 80
Subsidized housing 43,700 65 840,500 72
Not subsidized housing 414,400 79 6,897,100 80

Household living arrangements

Household living arrangements refer to whether a person lives with another person or people, and, if so, whether they are related to that person or those people. Households can be further differentiated based on whether they are census family households or non-census-family households. Census family households contain at least one census family.Note 14 Non-census-family households are either one person living alone or a group of two or more people who live together but do not constitute a census family (for example, roommates).

According to the 2018 CHS, about three quarters (76%) of South Asian people lived as part of a one-census-family household. South Asian people who lived in one-census-family households were more likely to live in a couple family with children (61%) than without (10%). The same was true for the total population, where 46% of individuals lived in a couple family with children and 24% lived in a couple family without children.

Living in a non-census-family household was less common for South Asian people (6%) than the total population (16%). This difference is mainly derived from the smaller proportion of South Asian people that lived alone (3%) in comparison with the 12% of the total population in private households in Canada that lived alone.


Table 10
Household living arrangements for the population in private dwellings, Canada, 2018
Table summary
This table displays the results of Household living arrangements for the population in private dwellings South Asian population and Total population, calculated using count and percent units of measure (appearing as column headers).
South Asian population Total population
count percent count percent
Total, household type 2,319,400 100 36,444,100 100
One-census-family householdTable 10 Note 1 1,768,800 76 28,959,300 79
Couple family without children 239,500 10Note * 8,583,600 24
Couple family with children 1,421,700 61Note * 16,782,900 46
One parent family 107,500 5Note * 3,592,800 10
Multiple-census-family householdTable 10 Note 1 422,700 18Note * 1,799,100 5
Non-census-family household 128,000 6Note * 5,685,800 16
One-person household 66,100 3Note * 4,243,300 12
Two- or more person household 61,800 3 1,442,400 4

Interpreting the results

The Canadian Housing Survey (CHS) is a representative sample survey drawn from a frame of private dwellings across Canada. Since the survey sample is drawn from private households, individuals living in the following forms of housing are not included in the data:

  • people living on reserves and in other Indigenous settlements
  • official representatives of foreign countries living in Canada, and their families
  • members of religious and other communal colonies
  • members of the Canadian Armed Forces living on military bases
  • people living in seniors’ residences
  • people living full time in institutions (e.g., inmates of penal institutions, and chronic care patients living in hospitals and nursing homes)
  • people living in other types of collective dwellings (e.g., shelters, campgrounds and hotels).

The survey results are an outcome of the sampling procedure that estimates a true value with an acceptable level of uncertainty. Therefore, it is not recommended to compare any two numbers published above unless the comparison is made in the text. This fact sheet features three types of comparisons:

  1. comparisons of estimates between the focus population group and the total population (for example, the percentage of South Asian people in rented dwellings in core housing need, compared with the percentage of the total population in rented dwellings in core housing need)
  2. comparisons of estimates between a category and the category total within the focus population group (for example, the percentage of South Asian people in rented dwellings in core housing need, compared with the percentage of all South Asian people in core housing need)
  3. comparisons of estimates between categories within the focus population group (for example, the percentage of South Asian people in rented dwellings in core housing need, compared with the percentage of South Asian people in owner-occupied dwellings in core housing need).

Each of these three comparisons provides a different insight to understand the housing experiences of the focus population group. A statistical test is conducted to see whether the two estimates are different from one another at the 95% confidence level—often stated as 19 times in 20. The test results are presented for percentage statistics in the tables on relative prevalence or median shelter costs only; test results are omitted for statistics on the associated number of people.

When other comparisons are made between sample results presented in the fact sheets or data tables, it is important to remember that it cannot be concluded with a degree of certainty that the observed difference is not attributable to variation from the sampling procedure.

About the data

The estimates presented in this fact sheet are from the 2018 Canadian Housing Survey (CHS). Additional socioeconomic and demographic highlights are from the 2016 Census of Population. For detailed information on the CHS or any of the indicators in this fact sheet, please refer to the following:


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