Census learning centre
Key household indicators

Release date: October 26, 2022 Updated on: May 10, 2023

Catalogue number: 982000032021023

Hello and welcome to the "Key household indicators" video.

Data collected by the Census of Population are used to create different household indicators to help governments and organizations assess housing needs in Canada. This video focuses on six key household indicators that help governments and organizations manage the state of housing in Canada, namely, shelter costs, shelter-cost-to-income ratio, housing adequacy, housing suitability, housing affordability and core housing need.


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Concept video: Key household indicators - Transcription

(The Statistics Canada symbol and "Canada" wordmark appear on screen with the title: "Concept video: Key household indicators".)

Welcome to the “Key household indicators” concept video.

In this video, we will learn about key household indicators.

Multiple variables collected in the Census of Population are combined to create different household indicators to help governments and organizations assess housing needs in Canada.

We will focus on six indicators that are derived from Census of Population data.

  1. Shelter costs
  2. Shelter-cost-to-income ratio
  3. Housing affordability
  4. Housing adequacy
  5. Housing suitability
  6. Core housing need

Let’s look at these indicators in more detail and see how they are connected.

Shelter costs refer to the total expenses related to the dwelling paid by the household.

Households with different tenure status types have different expenses that make up their shelter costs.

The shelter cost of owner-occupied dwellings is the sum of the utilities, mortgage payments and property taxes, plus condo fees, if living in a condominium.

For renter-occupied dwellings, shelter costs consist of utilities and rent payments.

The shelter cost for households living in a dwelling provided by the local government, First Nation or Indian band is calculated by adding utilities and any use or occupancy payments.

Shelter costs are normally expressed as monthly average costs.

Now that we know about the shelter costs of the household, we can derive our next indicator: the shelter-cost-to-income ratio.

The shelter-cost-to-income ratio is the monthly shelter cost divided by the average monthly total income of the household, and multiplied by 100.

(The equation, STIR = (Shelter Costs ÷ Average Monthly Total Income) × 100, appears on the screen.)

For example, if a household pays $1,500 per month in shelter costs and earns $48,000 per year, or $4,000 per month, its shelter-cost-to-income ratio is 37.5%.

(The equation, STIR = ($1,500 ÷ $4,000) × 100 = 37.5%, appears on the screen.)

We now understand that shelter costs and income both affect the shelter-cost-to-income ratio, but how is this indicator used?

We will now look at the next three key indicators: affordability, adequacy and suitability.

We have explained how to derive the shelter-cost-to-income ratio.

To assess housing affordability, we compare the ratio to a threshold determined by the Canada Mortgage and Housing Corporation.

Affordable housing has shelter costs equal to or less than 30% of the total before tax income of the household.

Therefore, in our previous example, where the shelter-cost-to-income ratio was 37.5%, that household was living in unaffordable housing.

(The equation, STIR = ($1,500 ÷ $4,000) × 100 = 37.5%, appears on the screen.)

Adequate housing refers to housing that does not require any major repairs, such as defective plumbing or electrical wiring, as well as structural repairs to walls, floors or ceilings.

The “Housing and dwelling characteristics” video explains that this indicator is based on the dwelling characteristic called dwelling condition.

Suitable housing has enough bedrooms for the size and composition of private households, according to the National Occupancy Standard, developed by the Canada Mortgage and Housing Corporation and provincial and territorial representatives.

The National Occupancy Standard derives the number of bedrooms a household requires based on the age and sex of household members and relationships between them.

Let’s take a brief moment to recap what we have learned so far.

We derived shelter costs and the shelter-cost-to-income ratio.

From those indicators and previously defined variables, we learned about three key housing indicators: housing affordability, housing adequacy and housing suitability. ”

There is one final indicator to define, called core housing need.

Core housing need refers to whether a private household’s housing falls below at least one of the indicator thresholds for housing adequacy, affordability or suitability, and the household cannot afford to pay the rent of alternative acceptable local housing.

There are additional requirements for assessing whether a household is in core housing need.

Only private, non-farm, non-reserve, owner or renter households with total household incomes greater than zero and shelter-cost-to-income ratios lower than 100% are considered.

Core housing need is used to better understand the housing experiences of people living in Canada and to help determine the regional need for social and affordable housing.

(The words, "Thank you for watching the “Key household indicators” video", appear on screen.)

This concludes the “Key household indicators” video.

(The census logo appears with a link, which is also available to view here: Census of population.)

For more detailed information regarding concepts, variables, methodology, historical comparability and other elements, please refer to Statistics Canada's census web pages.

(The "Canada" wordmark appears. ISBN: 978-0-660-45118-3)

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