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

Release date: October 21, 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: West Asian population

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Highlights from the 2016 Census: West Asian population

  • Percentage of the population: 0.8%
  • Average age: 35 years
  • Median household income: Note , Note  $51,600
  • Percentage living in poverty: Note  37.1%
  • Unemployment rate: 11.0%
  • Percentage in rural areas: 1.4%
  • Percentage who are immigrants: 79.1%

This fact sheet focuses on West Asian people living in private dwellings. The statistics below are derived from the 2016 Census. For the purposes of this analysis, West 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  Because this fact sheet focuses on West Asian people in private dwellings, those living in collective dwellings are not included in the data.Note  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 West 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  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, West Asian people were less likely than the total population to live in a private dwelling owned by a member of their household. Of the 264,305 West Asian people in Canada, 56.7% lived in a private dwelling owned by a member of their household, compared with 71.6% of the total population.  

The proportion of West Asian people living in rented dwellings (43.3%) was higher than that of the total population (26.6%), and West Asian people were more than twice as likely to live in subsidized rented dwellings (6.9%) than the total population (3.3%). Of the 114,530 West Asian people who lived in rented dwellings, 18,125 (6.9% of all West Asian people) lived in subsidized housing, and 96,395 (36.5%) lived in non-subsidized housing.

Of the 149,770 West Asian people who owned their home, or lived with someone who owned their home, 131,610 (49.8% of all West Asian people) lived in a dwelling with a mortgage, and the remaining 18,115 (6.9%) lived in a dwelling without a mortgage. West Asian people were less likely to live in an owner-occupied dwelling without a mortgage (6.9%) than the total population (23.3%).


Table 1
Tenure status of households for West Asian people and the total population in private dwellings, Canada, 2016
Table summary
This table displays the results of Tenure status of households for West Asian people and the total population in private dwellings West Asian population and Total population, calculated using count and percent units of measure (appearing as column headers).
West Asian population Total population
count percent count percent
Total, tenure status 264,305 100.0 34,460,065 100.0
Owner 149,770 56.7 24,683,880 71.6
With a mortgage 131,610 49.8 16,670,675 48.4
Without a mortgage 18,115 6.9 8,013,205 23.3
Renter 114,530 43.3 9,164,150 26.6
Subsidized housing 18,125 6.9 1,135,275 3.3
Not subsidized housing 96,395 36.5 8,028,875 23.3

Shelter costs

Image for 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 West Asian households ($1,510) was higher than the median shelter cost paid by all households ($1,020) in 2016.Note 

West Asian households in owner-occupied and rented dwellings also had higher median shelter costs than all households in dwellings of the same tenure status. The median shelter cost paid by West Asian households in owner-occupied dwellings was $2,100, compared with $1,130 for all owner households. For West Asian households in rented dwellings, the median shelter cost was $1,170, 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. West Asian households with a mortgage on their dwelling ($2,260) paid more per month in median shelter costs than all households in owner-occupied dwellings with a mortgage ($1,620). Median shelter costs for West Asian households in owner-occupied dwellings without a mortgage ($715) were also higher than 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  West Asian households in rented dwellings with a subsidy ($588) had similar median monthly shelter costs as all households in rented dwellings with a subsidy ($524). Median shelter costs for West Asian households in rented dwellings without a subsidy ($1,240) were higher than the shelter costs for all households in rented dwellings without a subsidy ($960).


Table 2
Monthly shelter costs for West Asian and all households in private dwellings, Canada, 2016
Table summary
This table displays the results of Monthly shelter costs for West Asian and all households in private dwellings West Asian households and All households, calculated using median (dollars) units of measure (appearing as column headers).
West Asian households All households
median (dollars)
Total, shelter costsTable 2 Note 1 1,510 1,020
Owner 2,100 1,130
With a mortgage 2,260 1,620
Without a mortgage 715 540
Renter 1,170 910
Subsidized housing 588 524
Not subsidized housing 1,240 960

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 

According to the 2016 Census, West Asian people were more than twice as likely to live in households that spent more than 30% of their total household income on shelter. Among West Asian people, 137,445 (52.3%) lived in households that spent more than 30% of their total income on shelter, compared with 20.0% of the total population.

West Asian people in owner-occupied dwellings (50.0%) were more than three times as likely to live in unaffordable housing as the total population in owner-occupied dwellings (14.7%). West Asian people in rented dwellings (55.3%) also lived in unaffordable housing at a higher rate than the total renter population (34.5%).

For those living in owner-occupied dwellings, the rate of unaffordable housing differed depending on the presence of a mortgage. West Asian people in households with a mortgage (54.7%) were more likely to live in unaffordable housing than the total population with a mortgage (19.6%). The proportion of West Asian people in households without a mortgage living in unaffordable housing (15.7%) was also higher compared with that of the total population without a mortgage (4.4%).

The rate of unaffordable housing was higher for West Asian people in renter households with a subsidy (34.8%, compared with 32.3% for the total renter population with a subsidy) and without a subsidy (59.2%, compared with 34.8% for the total renter population without a subsidy).


Table 3
Unaffordable housing for West Asian people and the total population in private dwellings, Canada, 2016
Table summary
This table displays the results of Unaffordable housing for West Asian people and the total population in private dwellings West Asian population and Total population, calculated using count and percent units of measure (appearing as column headers).
West Asian population Total population
count percent count percent
Total, shelter-cost-to-income ratioTable 3 Note 1 262,820 100.0 33,642,820 100.0
Spending more than 30% of income on shelter costs 137,445 52.3 6,742,050 20.0
Owner 74,675 50.0 3,605,535 14.7
With a mortgage 71,830 54.7 3,257,230 19.6
Without a mortgage 2,845 15.7 348,300 4.4
Renter 62,770 55.3 3,136,520 34.5
Subsidized housing 6,280 34.8 361,270 32.3
Not subsidized housing 56,485 59.2 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, West Asian people were more than three times as likely as the total population to live in unsuitable housing; 73,115 West Asian people (27.7%) 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.

West Asian people in owner-occupied dwellings (18.0%) were also more than three times as likely to live in unsuitable housing as the total population in owner-occupied dwellings (5.4%). A significant difference was also seen in rented dwellings—the share of West Asian people living in unsuitable dwellings (40.3%) was over two times higher than that of the total population (17.8%).

When owner-occupied dwellings are differentiated by the presence of a mortgage, West Asian people living in dwellings with a mortgage (18.4%) experienced unsuitable housing at a higher rate than the total population in dwellings with a mortgage (6.4%). This difference was similarly pronounced among people in owner-occupied dwellings without a mortgage; the rate of unsuitable housing for West Asian people was 15.2%, compared with 3.4% for the total population.

West Asian people in renter households with and without a subsidy experienced higher rates of unsuitable housing than the total population. There was a 16 percentage point difference between the unsuitable housing rates of West Asian people (35.2%) and the total population (19.2%) living in subsidized housing and a 23.7 percentage point difference between the unsuitable housing rates of West Asian people (41.3%) and the total population (17.6%) living in non-subsidized housing.


Table 4
Housing suitability for West Asian people and the total population in private dwellings, Canada, 2016
Table summary
This table displays the results of Housing suitability for West Asian people and the total population in private dwellings West Asian population and Total population, calculated using count and percent units of measure (appearing as column headers).
West Asian population Total population
count percent count percent
Total, housing suitability 264,305 100.0 34,460,065 100.0
Not suitable 73,115 27.7 3,081,315 8.9
Owner 26,915 18.0 1,335,345 5.4
With a mortgage 24,160 18.4 1,062,985 6.4
Without a mortgage 2,745 15.2 272,365 3.4
Renter 46,200 40.3 1,631,845 17.8
Subsidized housing 6,375 35.2 218,130 19.2
Not subsidized housing 39,825 41.3 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, West Asian people (6.1%) lived in private dwellings that were in need of major repairs at a similar rate as the total population (6.7%).

West Asian people in owner-occupied dwellings (5.0%) lived in dwellings in need of major repairs at a similar rate as the total population in owner-occupied dwellings (5.5%). A difference could be seen among those in renter households—West Asian people (7.5%) were less likely to live in dwellings in need of major repairs than the total population (8.8%).

West Asian people in owner-occupied dwellings with (5.1%) and without (4.5%) a mortgage lived in dwellings in need of major repairs at a similar rate as the total population in dwellings with (5.7%) and without (4.9%) a mortgage.

Among West Asian people in renter households, 11.3% of those with a subsidy and 6.7% of those without a subsidy lived in dwellings in need of major repairs. The rate for West Asian people in rented dwellings without a subsidy was lower than that for the total population without a subsidy (8.4%).


Table 5
Condition of dwelling for West Asian people and the total population in private dwellings, Canada, 2016
Table summary
This table displays the results of Condition of dwelling for West Asian people and the total population in private dwellings West Asian population and Total population, calculated using count and percent units of measure (appearing as column headers).
West Asian population Total population
count percent count percent
Total, dwelling condition 264,305 100.0 34,460,065 100.0
Dwelling in need of major repairs 16,030 6.1 2,298,760 6.7
Owner 7,500 5.0 1,351,740 5.5
With a mortgage 6,680 5.1 956,105 5.7
Without a mortgage 820 4.5 395,640 4.9
Renter 8,535 7.5 807,125 8.8
Subsidized housing 2,050 11.3 131,670 11.6
Not subsidized housing 6,485 6.7 675,460 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, West Asian people (30.8%) were nearly three times as likely to live in households in core housing need as the total population (10.6%).

West Asian people in rented dwellings (47.2%) were in core housing need at a higher rate than the total population in rented dwellings (25.3%). The proportion of West Asian people in owner-occupied dwellings (18.9%) in core housing need was over three times higher than that of the total population in owner-occupied dwellings (5.4%).

The incidence of core housing need varied for renters depending on whether there was a rent subsidy. West Asian people in renter households with (48.6%) and without (46.9%) a subsidy were more likely to be in core housing need than the total population with (39.9%) and without (23.2%) a subsidy.

The incidence of core housing need was higher for West Asian people in owner-occupied dwellings with and without a mortgage than for their counterparts in the total population. Among West Asian people in owner-occupied dwellings with a mortgage, 19.6% were in core housing need, compared with 6.0% of the total population. For those without a mortgage, there was a 10.3 percentage point difference between the core housing need rates of West Asian people (14.7%) and the total population (4.3%).


Table 6
Core housing need status for West Asian people and the total population in private dwellings, Canada, 2016
Table summary
This table displays the results of Core housing need status for West Asian people and the total population in private dwellings West Asian population and Total population, calculated using count and percent units of measure (appearing as column headers).
West Asian population Total population
count percent count percent
Total, core housing needTable 6 Note 1 231,885 100.0 32,803,125 100.0
In core housing need 71,325 30.8 3,492,080 10.6
Owner 25,560 18.9 1,307,620 5.4
With a mortgage 22,995 19.6 971,150 6.0
Without a mortgage 2,565 14.7 336,470 4.3
Renter 45,765 47.2 2,184,455 25.3
Subsidized housing 8,370 48.6 433,190 39.9
Not subsidized housing 37,390 46.9 1,751,265 23.2

Housing experiences of West Asian men and women

In 1995, the Government of Canada committed to using Gender-based Analysis Plus (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 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 West Asian men and women. Compared with West Asian men, West Asian women were more likely to live in unsuitable housing.


Table 7
Housing indicators for West Asian men and women, Canada, 2016
Table summary
This table displays the results of Housing indicators for West Asian men and women West Asian men and West Asian women, calculated using percent units of measure (appearing as column headers).
West Asian men West Asian women
percent
In an owner-occupied dwelling 56.4 56.9
In household spending 30% or more of income on shelter costsTable 7 Note 1 51.9 52.7
In unsuitable housing 26.9 28.4
In dwelling requiring major repairs 6.0 6.2
In core housing needTable 7 Note 2 30.3 31.2

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  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, 80.5% of West Asian people lived as part of a one-census-family household. This was similar to the rate for the total population (79.6%). West Asian people in one-census-family households were more likely to live in a couple family with children (58.3%) than to live in one without children (12.4%). For the total population, 45.7% of individuals lived in a one-census-family household with children and 22.5% lived in one without children. West Asian people (9.8%) were less 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 West Asian people (10.8%) than it was for the total population (15.4%). This is because a small proportion (7.3%) of West 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 West Asian people and the total population in private dwellings, Canada, 2016
Table summary
This table displays the results of Household living arrangements for West Asian people and the total population in private dwellings West Asian population and Total population, calculated using count and percent units of measure (appearing as column headers).
West Asian population Total population
count percent count percent
Total, household type 264,305 100.0 34,460,065 100.0
One-census-family householdTable 8 Note 1 212,690 80.5 27,414,900 79.6
Couple family without children 32,790 12.4 7,761,355 22.5
Couple family with children 154,105 58.3 15,754,465 45.7
One parent family 25,790 9.8 3,899,085 11.3
Multiple-census-family householdTable 8 Note 1 23,155 8.8 1,746,110 5.1
Non-census-family household 28,460 10.8 5,299,050 15.4
One-person household 19,175 7.3 3,967,770 11.5
Two- or more person household 9,285 3.5 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:


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