Where can researchers find data on housing topics in Canada such as the amount of social housing, affordability, or the reasons for evictions? The answer is the Canadian Housing Survey (CHS), Stephanie Shewchuk, a Senior Specialist in the Research Division at Canada Mortgage and Housing (CMHC) told a webinar, March 7, sponsored by the Expert Community on Housing (ECOH).

The CHS collects information from a sampling of Canadian renters and homeowners every two years on how they feel about their housing. First launched in 2018, in partnership with Statistics Canada, the survey covers numerous topics and vulnerable groups. The webinar presentation described the survey, its methodology and how to access the data, as well as highlighting key insights. 

Other sources of housing data in Canada include the Census of Population, the Canadian Housing Statistics Program, the National Social and Affordable Housing Database, Shewchuk said.

The CHS focuses on housing affordability by collecting information on core housing need and economic hardship. It also collects information on other important topics, including dwelling and neighborhood satisfaction, neighborhoods safety and access to transportation. Data is also collected on housing waitlists, respondent’s previous experience of eviction, previous experience of homelessness, and the respondent’s previous accommodation.

“The National Housing Strategy has prioritized underserved groups in the programs that it delivers and we want to be able to look at whether housing outcomes are improving for these groups,” Shewchuk said.

Data from the most recent survey will be released in June.

Elisabeth Feltaous, a Senior Specialist in the Research Division at CMHC, said one example of how the data is being used is a research project examining the experience of evictions in 2020. Specifically, the research project is looking at whether the eviction is a formal action that goes through a legal process or whether it’s an informal eviction where a landlord requests, or signals, the intent to evict and the tenant leaves the dwelling either willingly or through coercion, she said.

“With this new data, we’re using it to answer a few key research questions. The first is what’s the link between evictions and health? The second is what are the demographics of people experiencing evictions, in particular links between homelessness and evictions, and people experiencing vulnerabilities?”

CMHC Researcher Michelle Verbeek said researchers are also looking at variables related to age, sex, sexual orientation, race, household size, the reason for the eviction and satisfaction with the housing.

The most recent survey suggests that the top reason for evicting a tenant in Canada was the sale of property followed by the landlord wanting the property for their own use. Rental arrears came in last at 8%.

There are multiple ways to access CHS data. The full “micro data” are available through the Canadian Research Data Network. The Public Use Microdata file is also available for public download. Both the CMHC webpage and the Statistics Canada webpage have published data tables and analysis that are not available on the web. Custom requests for specific tabulations can also be made directly through Statistics Canada.

Watch the webinar recording here