Soaring rents in Toronto, Vancouver force residents on modest incomes into 'deplorable' conditions

With Vancouver and Toronto vacancy rates at less than two per cent and rental prices surging, residents on modest or fixed incomes are being priced out of their communities and forced into what one expert calls 'deplorable' conditions.

Marketplace exposes the shocking conditions of some rentals

Behind Closed Doors: Canada’s Rental Crisis

9 months ago
Duration 22:30
Featured VideoWe investigate the impact the current housing crisis is having on low-income Canadians, and reveal who is being shut out with no safe place to call home.

With Vancouver and Toronto vacancy rates at 0.9 and 1.7 per cent respectively, and rental prices surging, seniors, students, new immigrants, single parents and people with disabilities — those on modest or fixed incomes — are being priced out of their communities.  

Ren Thomas, associate professor of planning at Dalhousie University in Halifax, warns it's a real loss for our biggest cities.

"You need that diversity — and that's what makes our big cities great is we have there, you know, different people in different jobs," said Thomas. 

Canada's national housing agency, the Canada Mortgage and Housing Corporation (CMHC), says affordable shelter should cost no more than 30 per cent of your pre-tax income. Using that metric, political economist and senior researcher at the Canadian Centre for Policy Alternatives, Ricardo Tranjan, crunched recent numbers for Marketplace and found that to comfortably afford a one-bedroom apartment today, a person needs to be earning about $109,000 a year in Vancouver, and $98,000 in Toronto.

But those who work full time, earning minimum wage in both cities, bring in less than $30,000 a year. That number can be even lower for those on fixed incomes or social assistance. 

So where do the most vulnerable live? 

Watch the video above to see how Marketplace exposes the shocking condition of rentals for some of those on modest incomes in Toronto and Vancouver.  From crumbling ceilings, cockroach infestations and sharing a bed next to a stranger, the high cost of living in these two cities means many Canadians are being forced to live in what one expert we spoke to called "deplorable" conditions.


Anu Singh


Anu Singh is an award-winning investigative journalist with a decade of experience in news and current affairs. She writes, produces and directs for CBC Marketplace.

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