Demographia Housing Affordability in Canada 2021 Supplemental

Demographia Housing Affordability in Canada, assesses middle-income housing affordability (Section 1) using the  Median Multiple,” which is the market rate median house price divided by the pre-tax median household income (gross income).


The Median Multiple is widely used for evaluating housing markets. It has been recommended by the World Bank and the United Nations and has been used by the Joint Center for Housing Studies at Harvard University. The Median Multiple and other price-to-income multiples (housing affordability multiples) are used to compare housing affordability between markets by the Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development, the International Monetary Fund, The Economist, and other organizations.

Historically, liberally regulated markets have exhibited median house prices that are three times or less that of median  household incomes (a Median Multiple of 3.0 or less). Demographia uses the housing affordability ratings in Table 1.

Housing Affordability in Canada: The Context

Among the major markets, housing remained comparatively affordable from 1970 to the mid-2000s, though the Vancouver market had become severely unaffordable. Since then, however, housing affordability has deteriorated  materially. Housing was generally affordable in Canada’s as late as the mid-2000s. For example, house prices have increased the equivalent of 7.7 years of median household income in Vancouver from 2004/2005 and 6.0 years in Toronto.

House price increases have been substantial in the other major markets. Montreal and Ottawa-Gatineau house prices have increased the equivalent of more than two years of annual median household income. Calgary and Edmonton, prices rose about the equivalent of one year.

This piece first appeared on Frontier Centre for Public Policy.

Wendell Cox is principal of Demographia, an international public policy firm located in the St. Louis metropolitan area. He is a founding senior fellow at the Urban Reform Institute, Houston, a Senior Fellow with the Frontier Centre for Public Policy in Winnipeg and a member of the Advisory Board of the Center for Demographics and Policy at Chapman University in Orange, California. He has served as a visiting professor at the Conservatoire National des Arts et Metiers in Paris. His principal interests are economics, poverty alleviation, demographics, urban policy and transport. He is co-author of the annual Demographia International Housing Affordability Survey and author of Demographia World Urban Areas.

Mayor Tom Bradley appointed him to three terms on the Los Angeles County Transportation Commission (1977-1985) and Speaker of the House Newt Gingrich appointed him to the Amtrak Reform Council, to complete the unexpired term of New Jersey Governor Christine Todd Whitman (1999-2002). He is author of War on the Dream: How Anti-Sprawl Policy Threatens the Quality of Life and Toward More Prosperous Cities: A Framing Essay on Urban Areas, Transport, Planning and the Dimensions of Sustainability.