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Why Canada is losing affordable rental housing faster than it's being built –



Everything seems to be getting more expensive. Food, gas and housing prices are on the rise while paycheques are slow to keep pace. 

The CBC News series Priced Out explains why you’re paying more at the register and how Canadians are coping with the high cost of everything.

Kevin O’Toole rarely takes his dog, Stella, for a walk without two or three neighbours stopping him to chat.


“I love my neighbours, the community is great, I’ve got everything I want, and at 72, where am I going to go?” he said of his high-rise apartment in Hamilton. 

O’Toole pays $825 per month for the two-bedroom rental he’s lived in since 2010. 

He worked for 30 years as a waiter. Now he collects his federal pension and works part time at McDonald’s to help keep his head above water.  

  • Watch “Priced out: Canada’s rental crisis” on The Fifth Estate Thursday at 9 p.m. on CBC-TV or stream it on CBC Gem. 

With rental rates on the rise, he knows that losing his apartment would be a big financial blow. 

“To find an affordable apartment, I’d have to go way the hell out to Sudbury or somewhere,” he told The Fifth Estate. “To find affordable housing, it’s unheard of here in Hamilton now.” 

WATCH | A tenant vows to stay in his apartment as long as he can:

‘I’m going out in a box’

16 hours ago

Duration 0:38

Tenant Kevin O’Toole says he likes his community, and will fight to stay in the apartment he’s rented since 2010. 0:38

O’Toole is right. Research shows that in the last decade, Canada has been losing affordable rental units, those available to individuals making $30,000 a year or less, far faster than new ones are being built, and it’s forcing some renters out of the homes and communities they know.

Neither the private market nor the public sector has articulated plans for how to deal with the large number of renters affected by the loss. 

A key factor driving up rents in Canada is the shortage of supply, but it’s not just that new units aren’t being built fast enough. 

Increases when units turn over

According to research from Steve Pomeroy, a senior research fellow at Carleton University in Ottawa, rentals that were once considered affordable are seeing significant price increases.

He estimates that between 2011 and 2016, the number of rental units that would be affordable for households earning less than $30,000 per year — with rents below $750 — declined by 322,600 in Canada.

Because many provinces control how much rents can be raised on tenants who stay in the same unit, most of these increases occur when the unit turns over. 

“If you’re a sitting tenant, then the rental rates only go up by the costs of inflation and so that’s great,” said Douglas Kwan, director of legal services at the Advocacy Centre for Tenants Ontario. “That’s manageable.”

Douglas Kwan, director of legal services at the Advocacy Centre for Tenants Ontario, says he is seeing an increase in landlords applying for ‘no fault’ evictions, which make way for a new tenant and new, higher, rents. (Joe Fiorino/CBC)

However, in the current rental environment, “there is a tremendous incentive to remove that sitting tenant,” he said.

The discrepancy in prices is surprising for renters like O’Toole, whose rent has risen from $715 to $825 since he took occupancy more than a decade ago.

“The guy next door,” O’Toole said, “he pays $1,800 a month plus hydro. 

“He’s paying $1,000 more rent than me for the same thing.” 

1 in 3 Canadians renting

According to 2016 census data, nearly 30 per cent of Canadians, or 4.4 million households, rent their home, and statistics from the Canadian government show they’re under increasing pressure. 

Using data from the Canada Mortgage and Housing Corporation (CMHC), which lists average rents for bachelor, two- and three- bedroom apartments in large metropolitan areas, The Fifth Estate calculated that between 2014 and 2019, rents countrywide increased by nearly 20 per cent. At the same time, incomes remained largely unchanged. 

When housing costs more than 30 per cent of a person’s income, that housing is unaffordable, according to the federal government. 

A recent report from the CMHC said that a two-bedroom apartment rental is beyond the reach of the average person who works full time in many cities, including Vancouver, Victoria, Winnipeg, Peterborough, London, Kingston, Toronto and Halifax.

In Dartmouth, N.S., across the harbour from Halifax, John and Stacey Smith have experienced first-hand what having to move can cost a family. In November, the duplex they were renting was sold to a new owner who wanted to move in.

Even though they both work full time, finding a new place that they felt they could afford and fit their two teenage children was difficult. When they found it, their monthly rent went from $751 to $1,750. 

“I’m trying to make it better for my kids and my family,” John Smith said. “I put family first, but I mean, it’s, it’s crazy. It really is.

“I guess that’s life.” 

Financialization in housing

As Canada’s real estate market has heated up, large investors have brought industrial standardization and a financial focus to the landlord business. 

The Bank of Canada says that one in five people buying a house is doing so as an investment. 

Housing experts call this trend “financialization.” 

Martine August, an assistant professor in the school of planning at the University of Waterloo in Waterloo, Ont., estimates that 20 to 30 per cent of Canada’s rental apartment market is owned by institutional landlords, and that real estate investment trusts — or REITs — own nearly 200,000 rental units countrywide. 

Real estate investment trusts own or invest in income-producing real estate and distribute profits to their shareholders. Many are traded publicly on the stock market. 

Some in the industry give similar estimates. REALPAC, the association that represents many of Canada’s largest real estate companies, says the top 21 large real estate owners hold 17.6 per cent of the rental apartment market. 

Martine August, an assistant professor in the school of planning at the University of Waterloo in Waterloo, Ont., became interested in the financialization of housing when an investment firm started buying up apartment buildings in her Toronto neighbourhood. (Joe Fiorino/CBC)

“We’re seeing this kind of single-minded orientation towards trying to extract as much value as possible out of those buildings,” August said.

“The important thing to realize is that those buildings are people’s homes. And where that money comes from is basically tenants’ pockets.”

Business model raises the rents

When a landlord does renovations to their property, in some cases they can pass those costs on to tenants in the form of increased rents. 

In Ontario, there is a form of rent control for sitting tenants. Generally, landlords can only increase the rent once a year and by a number known as the guideline, set by the province and usually pegged to inflation. When landlords do renovations, they can apply to increase the rent above the guideline, in what is called an above guideline increase (AGI).

“Those above guideline increases are critical for the landlord to be able to get a return on that extra cost that landlords have to spend to upgrade the building,” said Michael Brooks, CEO of REALPAC.

“This is like an old house, it’s the same analogy. At some point in time, you need to do a lot of upgrades to modernize that house. That’s really expensive.” 

Michael Brooks, CEO of REALPAC, the association that represents many of Canada’s largest real estate companies, believes that solving the country’s rental affordability issues can’t just be the domain of private industry. (John Badcock/CBC)

August doesn’t see it that way. She believes that above guideline increases are a tool firms use to get around rent controls the government put in place. 

“Repairs and renovations actually make money for firms,” August said. “They invest in them because they can extract higher rents afterwards.” 

She said that making a profit is not something these companies are struggling with.

“The idea that they need to raise rents in order to do basic maintenance,” she said, “to me, it’s kind of insulting.” 

According to annual reports published by the four largest real estate investment trusts in Canada, they disbursed more than $2 billion in profits to their investors between 2015 and 2020. 

In 2018, O’Toole’s landlord, a real estate investment trust called InterRent, applied for an above guideline increase hoping to raise rents in the building by nine per cent over two years. 

He and his neighbours fought the increase at a hearing before Ontario’s Landlord and Tenant Board in Hamilton and it was reduced by more than half. 

WATCH | These Hamilton tenants went on rent strike to fight back against their landlord:

Hamilton tenants go on rent strike

15 hours ago

Duration 0:49

Kevin O’Toole says he shouldn’t have to pay for cosmetic upgrades to his building. 0:49

“If you’re a homeowner you have to pay all these things, but you own a home, I don’t. So don’t pass it onto me,” O’Toole said.

InterRent did not respond to multiple requests for comment.

Brooks said that to place housing affordability issues at the feet of large landlords is incorrect.

“Remember, affordable, deeply affordable housing is a public good, and the private sector is not primarily in the business of providing a public good,” he said.

“Without landlords who have access to capital and scale and good management, without that, you’re not going to meet the housing needs of this country.”

Affordability is a problem we all have to address, Brooks said, but “you can’t expect the private sector to solve all social ills.”

“What we really need to solve this unprecedented housing shortage at the bottom end, the affordable end and the deeply affordable end of the markets is an integrated national housing strategy.” 

Renters feel abandoned 

The federal government announced their newly developed national housing strategy in 2017. 

The Fifth Estate made multiple requests over several weeks to speak with federal Housing Minister Ahmed Hussen and was declined each time.

Within that time frame, Hussen sat down with a committee of MPs to discuss the housing affordability issue.

In the meeting, he noted that “a lot of work has been done and more work needs to be done,” and that since 2020 through the rapid housing initiative, a program centred on building affordable housing for vulnerable populations, the government provided funding for 10,250 affordable housing units. 

Ahmed Hussen was appointed federal minister of housing and diversity and inclusion in 2021. (Andrew Vaughan/The Canadian Press)

The Fifth Estate asked his office whether that was enough, given that hundreds of thousands of affordable units have been removed from the market in the last decade. 

They answered that a single affordable housing project can take up to three years to complete, and that “the national housing strategy initiatives are taking steps to fill important supply gaps in the Canadian housing landscape.”

The minister did not answer questions about how many affordable units have been built under the strategy or what the rent for those units is. 

Meanwhile, renters like O’Toole have no confidence that help is coming. 

“I think the government should be held accountable,” he said, noting that municipal and provincial governments all play a role in housing. 

“All they’re saying is first-time homeowners. Nobody’s talking about the renters. Nobody,” he said. “And we’re just as equally important as somebody who owns a home.”

Have questions about this story? We’re answering as many as we can in the comments.

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Once homeless and hungry herself, this retired nurse set up a low-cost meat shop to help those in need –



Ten years ago, Brigida Crosbie was homeless and eating out of the dumpster at the back of a KFC restaurant, but now she runs her own meat shop and goes out of her way to feed everyone who comes through her doors.

In 2020, Crosbie started Tydel Foods, a store staffed by volunteers in Chilliwack, a small city 90 kilometres east of Vancouver in B.C.’s Fraser Valley, that sells quality food cheaper than the big box stores. A rib-eye steak, for instance, goes for $8 less than at the supermarket. Striploin is $6 cheaper.

Her volunteers, many of whom became aware of her work through word of mouth or social media, say they signed up to help because they support what she’s doing for the community.


Crosbie’s store is often packed with customers, a sign of the deep need for affordable food as inflation hits record highs. The latest report from Food Banks Canada says the demand for food banks in B.C. increased by 25 per cent from 2021 to 2022, higher than the national average of 15 per cent.

She says she finds it surprising how easily she’s able to sell her meat for less than a large grocery store.

“The big thing in my mind is if I could give this price and I’m just a person off the street that’s just an advocate in the community, then how come the bigger box stores can’t give it at a much lower price?”

Crosbie has programs focused on helping seniors, people with disabilities and those who are homeless.

For seniors, she offers packages containing a selection of meats for $50. On Saturdays, the store offers free soup, stew or chlli.

Crosbie says she manages to ensure everyone leaves her shop with food.

“When someone tells me they couldn’t eat, I know exactly how that felt, and that’s how I got into meat,” said Crosbie, who says her business philosophy is “people over profit,” and she chose meat because it’s one of the biggest expenses on a food bill.

WATCH | Brigida Crosbie talks about how she came to open her low-cost meat shop:

Chilliwack meat shop provides affordable food to people on a budget

2 days ago

Duration 4:19

During a time of high food prices and inflation, a retired Chilliwack nurse is running a meat shop with volunteers that are helping her keep prices low.

Crosbie says she started Tydel because she remembers what it’s like to be hungry. 

A decade ago, she left an abusive partner, taking her two daughters, Tyanna and Delana. Although Crosbie was employed as a nurse at Fraser Health Authority, the family of three was temporarily homeless.

“You’re sleeping on a concrete pillow, and then you had to eat out of the garbage — that was the worst thing,” she recalled. 

Eventually, with help from a friend who loaned her money and her bank, who helped her access emergency funds, Crosbie found an apartment for herself and her daughters in the mid-2010s.

When she retired from Fraser Health in 2020, she decided to open a low-cost food store. She began by googling how to run a business and took out a small loan.

She named the store Tydel, a melding of the names of her two daughters.

Demand for low-cost food

Crosbie says her empathy and past experiences have motivated her to give. She says she also experienced hunger in her childhood. Her father was in prison, and her mother, who died at 49, had substance abuse issues.

When customers who come into the store can’t afford the prices or don’t have any money, Crosbie says she gives them food for free.

Crosbie says she’s able to turn a small profit because there’s a high demand for low-cost food. She says she sets her prices only marginally higher than her cost, but the high volume of customers manages to keep her in business.

“The need is so high in the community for this price point of affordable food … It’s the turnover of people that come in that helps keeps us afloat,” said Crosbie.

To help offset expenses, she says she uses the optional tips on her debit machine and pays for various expenses from her own pension cheque. 

“So long as I meet my lease, that’s all that matters to me.” 

Brigida Crosbie sits at her desk in the office of Tydel Foods as she smiles while greeting a man with a clipboard.
Crosbie says her past experiences with hunger and homelessness motivated her to open her business. (Maggie MacPherson/CBC)

Customers say they have come to rely on Tydel as the cost of living goes up.

“If it wasn’t for her, a lot of us wouldn’t eat properly,” said Joann Gianforte, a frequent customer who is in her 70s and spends most of her income on rent.

Chilliwack Mayor Ken Popove says he has gone on a number of delivery runs with Crosbie.

“She’s a rock star. She provides an awesome service at awesome prices,” said Popove, who added that some local food processors donate to Tydel Foods.

Popove says there is a need for more organizations like Crosbie’s.

“The government’s got to play a role in it too. They have in the past and continue to do so, but they need to step up.”

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Systemic Racism in Canada Healthcare Sector



Racism Can be Prevented in Canada

In Canada, there is evidence of inequities for some races, especially racial minority groups. Health disparities are widespread among racial minorities like the indigenous people leading to the experience of subs-standard health outcomes by these communities compared to the majority races. The conditions of the indigenous communities are worsened because of the low socio-economic situation and lack of access to quality health care. Systemic racism within healthcare remains a huge contributor to lower health outcomes for racial minorities in Canada. There are documented pieces of evidence showing poor health outcomes among racial minorities because of systemic racism, failures of existing policies in mitigating systemic racism, and actions that policymakers can take to mitigate systemic racism.

There are many reported cases of improper health care given to racial minorities in Canada. Reports indicate that indigenous women are being coerced or manipulated into sterilization. The men have often been ignored when they seek emergency treatments; they are left to suffer for long hours, sometimes, die (Boyer, 2017). Boyer gives an example of seven women who contacted the Saskatoon Health Region Commission and confirmed to have been subjected to coercion to have them have a tubal ligation post-delivery (2017). Boyer (2017) continues to say that many of them consented to the procedure because they were manipulated to believe it was reversible. The women added that social workers, nurses, and the physicians in the hospital pressured them when they were either in the pain of labor or just after delivery (Boyer, 2017). During this period, the victims were most vulnerable and powerless to resist coercion and manipulation. The women have suffered immensely after the tubal litigation (Boyer, 2017). According to Boyer, the commission concluded that the health Centre encouraged discriminatory and racial health care for indigenous women.

Another example of systemic racism is portended after the inquest into Brian Sinclair’s death, a First Nations man. Brian Sinclair was a 45 years old man who died in 2008 after being neglected in the Health Sciences emergency department for 34 hours. He dies of a treatable infection in the bladder. In the inquest, the working group identified several racist events that led to his death (Gunn, 2020). For instance, Sinclaire was visible to all the emergency staff in the emergency room. Yet, they ignored him, assuming he may be intoxicated, homeless, or just hanging around the room. According to Gunn, he was not questioned for the entire 34 hours (2020).” Even when the public intervened,” Gunn (2020) continues, “the emergency staff quickly dismissed them by stating that Sinclair was intoxicated or sleeping and that he was not sick at all.” The working group concluded that Sinclair was a victim of racial stereotyping and that the emergency staff was guilty of his death.

The two cases are just a few examples that indicate that the current anti-racism policies have failed. The two cases demonstrate how healthcare seekers from minority racial groups face racial discrimination daily when seeking medical care. Mahabir et al. (2021) agree. He says that racialized healthcare systems, especially from Toronto, have significant ethnic and racial-based discrimination exacerbating the healthcare challenges to the already socio-economically disadvantaged racial and ethnic minorities. Mahabir et al. points out that these hospitals prioritize unequal access to care (2021). Discrimination and bias adversely affect the indigenous communities in Canada. Many suffered from worsened medical conditions, stigma and loss of human dignity and in some cases loss of life.


To mitigate the effects of systemic racism among racial minorities, Mahabir et al. recommend enacting anti-racist policies that address racial discrimination against minorities and, more fundamentally, address the unequal power in social relations and their relation to the healthcare systems (2021). Resources must be committed to the investigations to achieve structural so that when complaints are reported, accountability and punishment can be meted out to the perpetrators of racism.

In conclusion, despite the enactment of many policies and laws aimed at taming racial discrimination in the healthcare system,  racism is still pervasive, especially in those situated in the indigenous community’s surroundings. There are many documented cases to prove that. Therefore, stakeholders should relook at the existing policies to improve them by modifying, overhauling, or enforcing them where necessary. Without taking these steps, racial discrimination will grow because the perpetrators will be encouraged, and the strides already taken in the fight against discrimination in the healthcare system will be reversed.





Boyer, Y. (2017, November 20). Healing racism in canadian health care. CMAJ : Canadian Medical Association journal = journal de l’Association medicale canadienne. Retrieved March 28, 2023, from

Gunn, B. (2020). Racism ignored. Ignored Racism, 1–8.

Mahabir, D. F., OCampo, P., Lofters, A., Shankardass, K., Salmon, C., & Muntaner, C. (2021, March 10). Experiences of everyday racism in Toronto’s health care system: A concept mapping study – international journal for equity in health. BioMed Central. Retrieved March 28, 2023, from



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Comedian Joe Avati Set to Bring Down the House on the Canadian Leg of His World Tour this Summer



Toronto, ON – Comedian, Joe Avati, will have Canadians roaring in their seats as he delivers his unique brand of comedy to audiences in BC, Alberta, Manitoba, Ontario, and Quebec this summer. When I Was Your Age takes the world-famous Australian comic’s reputation for pointing out the humour in generational and cultural differences one step further by putting a hilarious spin on the complexities of modern-day parenting, the minefield of cancel culture, and the woke brigade. Audiences are asked to leave their political correctness at the door as he delivers his side-splitting insights on how times have changed, for better or worse, since he grew up as a teenager in the 80s. Avati’s comedic observations are not only deadly accurate but extremely relatable to all ages, guaranteeing a laugh-a-minute show that the whole family can enjoy.  

A household name here in Canada, Avati is one of the original ethnic comedians. He first connected with his audience 25 years ago through his hilarious anecdotes about growing up in Australia as the child of Italian immigrants. That, along with his razor-sharp wit and priceless observations about generational differences, have since established him as a household name around the world as well as in Australia, North America and the UK where he regularly performs to sold-out crowds. Setting him apart from other humorists is the fact that Avati has endeared himself into the hearts of his fans by keeping his shows clean and free from profanities, which means that fittingly, all generations can enjoy his shows together! 


“I have performed to comedy lovers of all ages—mums and dads, teens, and even kids because everyone can relate to my stories,” Avati explains. “I can’t wait to bring my new tour to Canada this summer because Canadians are the best audience!” And it’s no wonder. Avati has had the privilege of selling out Canada’s top venues many times over since he started touring here in 2001. He also boasts two number one live comedy albums here in the Great White North with one of those albums having held the top spot for 18 months straight. 



Tickets for When I Was Your Age Canadian dates are on sale now at 


June 3 VancouverBC

June 4 KelownaBC

June 13 WinnipegMA

June 14 WinnipegMA

June 16 EdmontonAB 

June 17 Calgary, AB

June 17 Calgary, AB

June 18 Calgary, AB

July 6 TorontoON 

July 7 TorontoON 

July 8 St Catharines,

July 9 Windsor, ON 

July 12 Thunder BayON 

July 15 OttawaON

July 22 Montreal, QC

About Joe Avati 

Heralded by The Globe and Mail as “one of the world’s hottest comics” and dubbed as Australia’s answer to Jerry Seinfeld for his unique brand of clean comedy, Joe Avati has become a household name over the course of his 25-year career. Establishing him firmly in the annals of comedy greats is his anthropological approach to humor, inspired by his life as a child of Italian immigrants living in Australia. One of the first ethnic comedians, Avati’s routine about growing up with a culturally diverse background propelled him to fame in Australia, and then on the world stage, as evidenced by his sold-out tours across his homeland, the UK, and North America. In 2014 he was nominated for Comedian of the Year, and he has been given rave reviews by the world’s biggest media outlets. In addition to his comedy routine, Avati is also a shrewd comedy producer and has been called “pure comic genius” for his successful productions, his prolific comedic output, and his marketing savvy. 


For more information, high-resolution photography, or to book an interview with Joe Avati, please contact Sasha Stoltz Publicity at 416-579.4804 Email:


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