Crazy rents in Toronto, young couples give up having children

TORONTO – The testimony of Anna Smith, chosen by journalist Natalie Stechyson of the CBC for her article published today, perfectly summarizes the situation of young Canadian couples living in Toronto: she is 27 years old and shew lives with her partner in a 500-square-metre apartment square feet (i.e. less than 50 square meters) in east Toronto for $1,550 per month. A theft, for a “hole” like that. And it is a condition that is common to many Canadians aged between 20 and 30, for whom it is already difficult to make ends meet: let alone if they had a child… and so Anna, like many other girls, delays maternity leave for two years now. A decision that she herself describes as “just heartbreaking”.

“I’ve always hoped I could be a young parent because my folks had me in their mid-40s, and while they were excellent parents, they couldn’t keep up with me, and I wanted to give my kids a different kind of childhood” Anna said to the CBC, adding that “it’s disheartening to be struggling to achieve these life goalposts…”.

According to CBC analysis, out of more than 1,000 neighborhoods in Canada’s largest cities, less than 1% of rentals are vacant and affordable for most renters: which means that the homes are there, but they are so expensive that it is impossible to buy them for anyone with even a good salary. With the increase in prices and the decrease in availability, finding accommodation has become even more difficult, lately: average rent increases have reached a new high, as a report from the Canada Mortgage and Housing Corporation finds. And the situation gets worse if you search for multi-bedroom apartment rentals, which are as scarce as they are expensive.

Thus, there are families crammed into small apartments, with parents sleeping on sofas so the children can have bedrooms, while others (like Anna Smith) have delayed starting a family. Then there are those who created a family but had to “settle”, like Zach Robichaud, 37 years old: as the CBC‘s article reports, he lives in Kitchener, Ontario, and is the youngest of six children. He would also have wanted a large family, with at least three children, but he had to stop at one daughter because most of the family income (both he and his wife work) goes into the rent which is 2,000 dollars a month. “My daughter will essentially be alone” Robichaud said. “It’s really kind of sad…”.

Canada’s total fertility rate fell in 2022 to its lowest point in more than a century, to 1.33 children per woman, Statistics Canada reported in January. And again according to Statistics Canada, 38% of young adults (aged 20 to 29) do not believe they can afford to have a child in the next three years.

According to Randall Bartlett, senior director of Canadian economics at Desjardins, “the only way to really address this problem is to bring more supply to the market to ultimately help drive down the price of homes and rents and make them more affordable for a larger group of Canadians”.

More than half (55%) of Canadians aged 18 to 34 surveyed last year for a study conducted by Abacus Data and the Canadian Real Estate Association (CREA) said the housing crisis had influenced their decisions and times to start a family (as part of the study, 3,500 Canadian adults were surveyed at the end of September 2023).

In short, housing is the main “brake” on parenting. Home, bitter home…

In the pic above, an image now “from times gone by”: a family with two children (photo by Charles McArthur from Pixabay)