Statistics Canada
Symbol of the Government of Canada
Market Research Handbook



Warning View the most recent version.

Archived Content

Information identified as archived is provided for reference, research or recordkeeping purposes. It is not subject to the Government of Canada Web Standards and has not been altered or updated since it was archived. Please "contact us" to request a format other than those available.

Section 5: Housing and household characteristics


In 2006, fewer building permits for new residential dwellings were approved by municipalities, making it the second consecutive year that the number of building approvals declined. The number of building permits dropped by 2.4% (from 238,882 in 2005 to 233,233 in 2006) (table 5.9). Municipalities approved 118,336 single-family units, as the demand for single-family dwellings fell by 2.2% from 2005 (tables 5.8).

Although the total number of permits issued declined, the value of these permits set a record because of higher prices. The total value of permits issued for residential dwellings reached record levels, increasing by 6.1% to $41.0 billion (table 5.9). The average price of a permit increased from $162,101 in 2005 to $176,016 (+8.6%) in 2006 and by about +28.1% between 2002 and 2006. The rise in the value of building permits was heavily impacted by strong increases in Alberta (+34.6%). This influence is manifested by the fact that if Alberta was excluded, the overall value of permits would have increased by a meagre +0.7%, instead of +6.1% (table 5.8 and chart 5.1).

Nationwide, the number of housing starts increased (+0.8%) from 225,481 in 2005 to 227,395 in 2006, after dropping by 3.4% in 2005. The largest increases were in Alberta (+19.9% or +8,115 units) and British Columbia (+5.1% or +1,776 units). The largest decreases were in Ontario (-6.8% or -5,378 units) and Quebec (-6.0% or -3,033 units). The number of houses that were left uncompleted in Canada also increased from 169,880 to 178,721 (+5.2%), while the number of housing completions climbed from 211,242 in 2005 to 215,947 in 2006 (table 5.8).

Dwelling Characteristics

From 2001 to 2006, the total number of occupied private dwellings in Canada reached 12.4 million, an increase of +7.5% since the 2001 census. This can be attributed mainly to a +15.1% rise in the number of Other dwellings like semi-detached houses, row houses, apartment duplexes, as the growth in these types of dwellings accounted for 64.6% of the increase in the number of occupied private dwellings in Canada. Over 60% of the intercensal increase in Canada was in Quebec and Ontario, while 17% of the increase was recorded in Alberta (table 5.3).

Single detached houses remain the most popular dwelling structure, accounting for 55.3% of all private dwellings in Canada, Other dwellings accounted for 34.5% while Apartment buildings that has five or more storeys and movable dwellings accounted for the rest (10.2%) (table 5.3).

Among the provinces, households in Quebec (37.9%) had the highest probability of living in apartment buildings and were the least likely to live in single detached dwellings (45.7%) in Canada. On the other hand, households in Saskatchewan (74.3%) were the more likely than households in other parts of Canada to live in single detached homes and those in Prince Edward Island were the least likely to live in apartments (0.1%) (table 5.3).

The homeownership rate edged up slightly from 65.8% in 2001 to 68.4% in 2006. As many Canadians opt to buy their own homes, the proportion of rented households declined from 33.8% in 2001 to 31.2% in 2006 (table 5.2). Newfoundland continues to register the highest percentage homeownership (78.7%) and the lowest rental rate among households (21.1%) (table 5.2). Among the provinces Quebec had the lowest percentage of homeownership (60%) and the highest rate of renting (39.8%) (table 5.2).

Household size

As the fertility rate in Canada decreases and population aging accelerates, household size in Canada is witnessing a progressive decline. In 2006, 26.8% were one-person households, while 8.7% were households of five or more persons. This is in sharp contrast to 1941, when only 6.0% of households were single person households and 38.2% were households of five or more persons (table 5.1 and chart 5.2). The 2006 census shows that the number of single (+11.8%) and dual (+10.7%) person-households registered strong growth from 2001 to 2006, culminating in these types of households accounting for the majority (60.3%) of Canadian households (table 5.1).

Nationwide, Quebec (30.7%) had the highest percentage of single person private households. On the other hand, Nunavut (20.1%) had the highest proportion of households with 6 or more persons (table 5.1), a situation related to the high incidence of large families in this territory due to the high fertility rate among the first nations people.

Household equipment communications and electronic usage

The strong economic growth is pushing up demand for electronic gadgets like DVD players, cell phones and CD burners. DVD players were reported by almost 77% of households in 2005, continuing their explosive growth in popularity. Since they were first reported by 20% of households in 2001, DVD players have become the most rapidly adopted new device since television in the 1950s. Overall, 4 out of 10 households had a CD burner, and one-quarter had DVD writers (table 5.6).

In 2005, almost 75% of Alberta households reported having a cell phone, the highest rate in the country, followed by Ontario (69.5%) and British Columbia (69.0%). New Brunswick (52.6%) and Quebec (53%) reported the lowest proportion of households owning a cell phone, well below the national average rate of 64.2% (table 5.6).

In a testimony to the increasing popularity of cellular phones, five percent of households in December 2006 reported they used cell phones only and had no conventional land-line phone (table 5.13) this percentage is almost twice the 2.6% reported two years earlier. Also, the proportion of households with one phone number declined from 60.2% in May 2002 to 34.7% in December 2006, while the proportion of households having three phone numbers increased from 14.1% in May 2002 to 32.4% in December 2006 (table 5.14).

Satellite television receivers were reported by about 23% of households, up slightly from the previous year. About 65% of households reported subscribing to cable television, down slightly by 3% compared to 2001 (table 5.6).

The proportion of households owning a home computer also increased from 68.7% to 72% in 2005. Households in Newfoundland and Labrador (60.8%) were less likely to have a home computer relative to other households in other provinces, while households in Alberta and British Columbia were more likely than other households to have a home computer (table 5.6).

Fuel and Diesel Sales

An average of 109 million litres of gasoline was consumed everyday in 2006 by Canadians. Sales of gasoline which consists of all grades of gasoline including fuel used for farming, construction or other off-road uses, were recorded at 39.7 billion litres in 2006, down 0.3% from the previous year (table 5.11). The decrease in 2006 comes after a 0.9% decline recorded from 2004 to 2005. Skyrocketing gasoline prices may have had the effect of tempering gasoline consumption.

Ontario (15.5 billion litres) and Quebec (8.2 billion litres) accounted for almost 60% of Canada's gasoline consumption in 2006 (table 5.11). Among the provinces, Alberta had the highest per capita consumption of gasoline (1,590 litres per person). It is likely that the strong vehicle sales and increased activities by oil exploration companies in Alberta influenced that province’s demand for gasoline. Quebec (1,076 litres) and British Columbia (1,095 litres) recorded the lowest per capita consumption of gasoline among the provinces (table 5.11).

Chart 5.1 Change in the value of building permits issued, Canada, provinces and territories, 2005 to 2006
Source(s):  Statistics Canada, Investment and Capital Stock Division, Building Permits Survey, and CANSIM tables 026-0001, 026-0003 and 026-0004.
Chart 5.2 One person household and households with five or more persons, Canada, 1941 to 2006
Note(s):  Comparable historical data are not available for census years prior to 1941.
Source(s):  Statistics Canada, censuses of population, 1941 to 2006.