Housing Statistics in Canada
Housing Experiences in Canada: Southeast Asian people in 2016

Release date: October 12, 2022

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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.

Figure 1 Highlights from the 2016 Census: Southeast Asian

Description for Figure 1

Highlights from the 2016 Census: Southeast Asian

  • Percentage of the population: 0.9%
  • Average age: 35 years
  • Median household income:Note 1, Note 2 $68,500
  • Percentage living in poverty:Note 3 20.2%
  • Unemployment rate: 8.2%
  • Percentage in rural areas: 2.3%
  • Percentage who are immigrants: 61.7%

This fact sheet focuses on Southeast Asian people living in private dwellings. The statistics below are derived from the 2016 Census. For the purposes of this analysis, Southeast Asian people were identified based on responses to the population group question on the census questionnaire, which is primarily used to identify racialized Canadians, defined as the visible minority population in the Employment Equity Act.Note 1 Because this fact sheet focuses on Southeast Asian people in private dwellings, those living in collective dwellings are not included in the data.Note 2 More fact sheets are available on the Housing Experiences in Canada series 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 Southeast Asian people living in private dwellings using the following indicators collected and produced by Statistics Canada: tenure status of the household, shelter costs, housing affordability and suitability, condition of the dwelling, core housing need, 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

Image for tenure status of household

The tenure status of a household refers to whether the household owns or rents its private dwelling.Note 3 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 2016 Census, Southeast Asian people lived in private dwellings owned by a member of their household at a similar rate as the total population. Of the 313,260 Southeast Asian people in Canada, 72.4% lived in a private dwelling owned by a member of their household, compared with 71.6% of the total population.

The proportion of Southeast Asian people living in rented dwellings (27.6%) was similar to that of the total population (26.6%), and Southeast Asian people lived in subsidized rented dwellings (3.6%) at a similar rate as the total population (3.3%). Of the 86,555 Southeast Asian people in rented dwellings, 11,395 (3.6% of all Southeast Asian people) lived in subsidized housing, and 75,155 (24.0%) lived in non-subsidized housing.

Of the 226,680 Southeast Asian people who owned their home, or lived with someone who owned their home, 167,760 (53.6% of all Southeast Asian people) lived in a dwelling with a mortgage, and the remaining 58,620 (18.7%) lived in a dwelling without a mortgage. Southeast Asian people were less likely to live in an owner-occupied dwelling without a mortgage (18.7%) than the total population (23.3%).


Table 1
Tenure status of households for Southeast Asian people and the total population in private dwellings, Canada, 2016
Table summary
This table displays the results of Tenure status of households for Southeast Asian people and the total population in private dwellings Southeast Asian population and Total population, calculated using count and percent units of measure (appearing as column headers).
Southeast Asian population Total population
count percent count percent
Total, tenure status 313,260 100.0 34,460,065 100.0
Owner 226,680 72.4 24,683,880 71.6
With a mortgage 167,760 53.6 16,670,675 48.4
Without a mortgage 58,620 18.7 8,013,205 23.3
Renter 86,555 27.6 9,164,150 26.6
Subsidized housing 11,395 3.6 1,135,275 3.3
Not subsidized housing 75,155 24.0 8,028,875 23.3

Shelter costs

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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 Southeast Asian households ($1,210) was higher than the median shelter cost paid by all households ($1,020) in 2016.Note 4

Southeast Asian households in owner-occupied dwellings also had higher median shelter costs than all households in owner-occupied dwellings, while costs were the same for renters. The median shelter cost paid by Southeast Asian households in owner-occupied dwellings was $1,500, compared with $1,130 for all owner households. For Southeast Asian households in rented dwellings, the median shelter cost was $910, compared with $910 for all renter households.

The median shelter cost paid by households in owner-occupied dwellings is typically larger when there is a mortgage, which can represent a large portion of monthly shelter costs. Southeast Asian households with a mortgage on their dwelling ($1,800) paid more per month in median shelter costs than all households in owner-occupied dwellings with a mortgage ($1,620). Median shelter costs for Southeast Asian households in owner-occupied dwellings without a mortgage ($584) were similar to those for all owner households without a mortgage ($540).

The median shelter cost paid by renter households usually depends on the presence of a rent subsidy.Note 5 Southeast Asian households in rented dwellings with a subsidy ($532) had similar median monthly shelter costs compared with all households in rented dwellings with a subsidy ($524). Median shelter costs for Southeast Asian households in rented dwellings without a subsidy ($960) were the same as the shelter costs for all households in rented dwellings without a subsidy ($960).


Table 2
Monthly shelter costs for Southeast Asian and all households in private dwellings, Canada, 2016
Table summary
This table displays the results of Monthly shelter costs for Southeast Asian and all households in private dwellings Southeast Asian households and All households, calculated using median (dollars) units of measure (appearing as column headers).
Southeast Asian households All households
median (dollars)
Total, shelter costsTable 2 Note 1 1,210 1,020
Owner 1,500 1,130
With a mortgage 1,800 1,620
Without a mortgage 584 540
Renter 910 910
Subsidized housing 532 524
Not subsidized housing 960 960

Housing affordability

Image for 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 2016 Census, Southeast Asian people were more likely to live in households that spent more than 30% of their total household income on shelter. Among Southeast Asian people, 81,965 (26.2%) lived in households that spent more than 30% of their total income on shelter, compared with 20.0% of the total population.

Southeast Asian people in owner-occupied dwellings (23.9%) were more likely to live in unaffordable housing than the total population in owner-occupied dwellings (14.7%). The opposite was true for rented dwellings—the rate of unaffordable housing was lower for Southeast Asian people (32.3%) than for the total population (34.5%).

For those living in owner-occupied dwellings, the rate of unaffordable housing differed depending on the presence of a mortgage. Southeast Asian people in owner-occupied households with a mortgage (30.5%) were more likely to live in unaffordable housing than the total population with a mortgage (19.6%). Among Southeast Asian people in owner-occupied dwellings without a mortgage, 4.9% were living in unaffordable housing, which was similar to the 4.4% of the total population without a mortgage in unaffordable housing.

The rate of unaffordable housing was lower for Southeast Asian people in renter households with a subsidy (27.6%, compared with 32.3% for the total renter population with a subsidy) and without a subsidy (33.1%, compared with 34.8% for the total renter population without a subsidy).


Table 3
Unaffordable housing for Southeast Asian people and the total population in private dwellings, Canada, 2016
Table summary
This table displays the results of Unaffordable housing for Southeast Asian people and the total population in private dwellings Southeast Asian population and Total population, calculated using count and percent units of measure (appearing as column headers).
Southeast Asian population Total population
count percent count percent
Total, shelter-cost-to-income ratioTable 3 Note 1 312,540 100.0 33,642,820 100.0
Spending more than 30% of income on shelter costs 81,965 26.2 6,742,050 20.0
Owner 54,015 23.9 3,605,535 14.7
With a mortgage 51,145 30.5 3,257,230 19.6
Without a mortgage 2,875 4.9 348,300 4.4
Renter 27,950 32.3 3,136,520 34.5
Subsidized housing 3,140 27.6 361,270 32.3
Not subsidized housing 24,810 33.1 2,775,245 34.8

Housing suitability

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 2016 Census, Southeast Asian people were more than twice as likely as the total population to live in unsuitable housing; 67,190 Southeast Asian people (21.4%) lived in unsuitable housing, compared with 8.9% of the total population. This means that there were not enough bedrooms in the dwelling to meet the needs of the household, according to the NOS.

Southeast Asian people in rented dwellings (34.1%) were nearly twice as likely to live in unsuitable housing as the total population in rented dwellings (17.8%). A significant difference was also seen in owner-occupied dwellings—the share of Southeast Asian people living in unsuitable housing (16.6%) was over three times higher than the share of the total population (5.4%).

Southeast Asian people in renter households with and without a subsidy had higher rates of unsuitable housing than the total population. There was a 9 percentage point difference between the unsuitable housing rates of Southeast Asian people (28.2%) and the total population (19.2%) living in subsidized housing and a 17.4 percentage point difference between the unsuitable housing rates of Southeast Asian people (35.0%) and the total population (17.6%) living in non-subsidized housing.

When owner-occupied dwellings are differentiated by the presence of a mortgage, Southeast Asian people living in dwellings with (17.8%) and without (13.3%) a mortgage experienced unsuitable housing at a higher rate than the total population in dwellings with (6.4%) and without (3.4%) a mortgage.


Table 4
Housing suitability for Southeast Asian people and the total population in private dwellings, Canada, 2016
Table summary
This table displays the results of Housing suitability for Southeast Asian people and the total population in private dwellings Southeast Asian population and Total population, calculated using count and percent units of measure (appearing as column headers).
Southeast Asian population Total population
count percent count percent
Total, housing suitability 313,260 100.0 34,460,065 100.0
Not suitable 67,190 21.4 3,081,315 8.9
Owner 37,635 16.6 1,335,345 5.4
With a mortgage 29,825 17.8 1,062,985 6.4
Without a mortgage 7,805 13.3 272,365 3.4
Renter 29,555 34.1 1,631,845 17.8
Subsidized housing 3,215 28.2 218,130 19.2
Not subsidized housing 26,335 35.0 1,413,720 17.6

Condition of dwelling

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.

According to the 2016 Census, Southeast Asian people (5.4%) were less likely to live in private dwellings that were in need of major repairs than the total population (6.7%).

Southeast Asian people in owner-occupied dwellings (4.9%) lived in dwellings in need of major repairs at a similar rate as the total population in owner-occupied dwellings (5.5%). A larger difference existed among those in renter households—Southeast Asian people (6.5%) were less likely to live in dwellings in need of major repairs than the total population (8.8%).

Southeast Asian people in owner-occupied dwellings with a mortgage (5.0%) lived in dwellings in need of major repairs at a similar rate as the total population in owner-occupied dwellings with a mortgage (5.7%). The share of Southeast Asian people in owner-occupied dwellings without a mortgage (4.7%) living in dwellings in need of major repairs was also similar to that of the total population without a mortgage (4.9%).

Among Southeast Asian people in renter households, 7.8% of those with a subsidy and 6.3% of those without a subsidy lived in dwellings in need of major repairs. Both of these proportions were lower than those for the total population in rented dwellings with (11.6%) and without (8.4%) a subsidy.


Table 5
Condition of dwelling for Southeast Asian people and the total population in private dwellings, Canada, 2016
Table summary
This table displays the results of Condition of dwelling for Southeast Asian people and the total population in private dwellings Southeast Asian population and Total population, calculated using count and percent units of measure (appearing as column headers).
Southeast Asian population Total population
count percent count percent
Total, dwelling condition 313,260 100.0 34,460,065 100.0
Dwelling in need of major repairs 16,845 5.4 2,298,760 6.7
Owner 11,220 4.9 1,351,740 5.5
With a mortgage 8,430 5.0 956,105 5.7
Without a mortgage 2,770 4.7 395,640 4.9
Renter 5,625 6.5 807,125 8.8
Subsidized housing 885 7.8 131,670 11.6
Not subsidized housing 4,745 6.3 675,460 8.4

Core housing need

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 its dwelling falls below at least one of the affordability, suitability, or condition of dwelling standards, and it would have to spend 30% or more of its total before-tax income to pay the median rent of alternative local housing that is acceptable (meets all three housing standards).

According to the 2016 Census, Southeast Asian people (15.4%) were more likely to live in households in core housing need than the total population (10.6%).

Southeast Asian people in owner-occupied dwellings (10.2%) were in core housing need at a rate nearly double that of the total population in owner-occupied dwellings (5.4%). For Southeast Asian people in rented dwellings (29.5%), the core housing need rate was higher than that of the total population in rented dwellings (25.3%).

The incidence of core housing need was higher for Southeast Asian people in owner-occupied dwellings with (11.7%) and without (6.0%) a mortgage compared with the total population. The share of the total population in owner-occupied dwellings with a mortgage in core housing need was 6.0%, 4.3% for those without a mortgage.

Similarly, the incidence of core housing need varied for renters depending on whether there was a rent subsidy. Southeast Asian people in renter households with a subsidy (36.4%) experienced a lower rate of core housing need than the total population with a subsidy (39.9%). This difference was reversed for Southeast Asian people in rented dwellings without a subsidy (28.4%), whose rate of core housing need was higher than that of the total population (23.2%).


Table 6
Core housing need status for Southeast Asian people and the total population in private dwellings, Canada, 2016
Table summary
This table displays the results of Core housing need status for Southeast Asian people and the total population in private dwellings Southeast Asian population and Total population, calculated using count and percent units of measure (appearing as column headers).
Southeast Asian population Total population
count percent count percent
Total, core housing needTable 6 Note 1 303,225 100.0 32,803,125 100.0
In core housing need 46,655 15.4 3,492,080 10.6
Owner 22,525 10.2 1,307,620 5.4
With a mortgage 19,075 11.7 971,150 6.0
Without a mortgage 3,450 6.0 336,470 4.3
Renter 24,130 29.5 2,184,455 25.3
Subsidized housing 4,000 36.4 433,190 39.9
Not subsidized housing 20,135 28.4 1,751,265 23.2

Housing experiences of Southeast Asian men and women

In 1995, the Government of Canada committed to using Gender-based Analysis Plus (GBA Plus) 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 Canadian 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 Plus 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 Plus 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 Plus considers many other identity factors, such as race, ethnicity, immigrant status, religion, age and presence of a mental or physical disability, and how the interaction between these factors influences the way we experience government policies and initiatives.

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


Table 7
Housing indicators for Southeast Asian men and women, Canada, 2016
Table summary
This table displays the results of Housing indicators for Southeast Asian men and women Southeast Asian men and Southeast Asian women, calculated using percent units of measure (appearing as column headers).
Southeast Asian men Southeast Asian women
percent
In an owner-occupied dwelling 72.3 72.4
In household spending 30% or more of income on shelter costsTable 7 Note 1 25.9 26.5
In unsuitable housing 21.3 21.5
In dwelling requiring major repairs 5.2 5.5
In core housing needTable 7 Note 2 15.2 15.6

More information on GBA Plus 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 group, immigrant status, population group designated as a visible minority, Indigenous population, and other groups, can be found in the additional fact sheets on the Housing Experiences in Canada series page. Additional data products that focus more on an intersectional GBA Plus analysis of housing experiences will also be released through the Housing Experiences in Canada series page as they become available.

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 7 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 2016 Census, 77.2% of Southeast Asian people lived as part of a one-census-family household. This was similar to the rate for the total population (79.6%). Southeast Asian people in one-census-family households were more likely to live in a couple family with children (52.8%) than to live in one without children (10.8%). For the total population, 45.7% of individuals lived in a couple-family household with children and 22.5% lived in one without children. Southeast Asian people (13.5%) were more likely to live in a one-parent-family household than the total population (11.3%).

Living in a non-census-family household was less common for Southeast Asian people (10.2%) than it was for the total population (15.4%). This is because a smaller proportion (5.5%) of Southeast Asian people lived alone. By comparison, 11.5% of the total population in private households in Canada lived alone.


Table 8
Household living arrangements for Southeast Asian people and the total population in private dwellings, Canada, 2016
Table summary
This table displays the results of Household living arrangements for Southeast Asian people and the total population in private dwellings Southeast Asian population and Total population, calculated using count and percent units of measure (appearing as column headers).
Southeast Asian population Total population
count percent count percent
Total, household type 313,260 100.0 34,460,065 100.0
One-census-family householdTable 8 Note 1 241,700 77.2 27,414,900 79.6
Couple family without children 33,865 10.8 7,761,355 22.5
Couple family with children 165,425 52.8 15,754,465 45.7
One parent family 42,410 13.5 3,899,085 11.3
Multiple-census-family householdTable 8 Note 1 39,705 12.7 1,746,110 5.1
Non-census-family household 31,850 10.2 5,299,050 15.4
One-person household 17,275 5.5 3,967,770 11.5
Two- or more person household 14,575 4.7 1,331,280 3.9

About the data

The estimates presented in this fact sheet are from the 2016 Census of Population. For detailed information on any of the indicators in this fact sheet, please refer to the Census of Population main page.

The Census of Population data on housing are collected on the long-form questionnaire, which draws its sample 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:

  • 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).

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