Immigrants and Refugees in the Housing Markets of Montreal, Toronto and Vancouver, 2011


  • Daniel Hiebert University of British Columbia


Immigrants, refugees, housing, Montreal, Toronto, Vancouver


New data based on a linkage between the Immigrant Landing File and the 2011 National Household Survey are used to build a picture of immigrants and refugees in the housing markets of Canada’s three largest metropolitan areas. While most newcomers find it a challenge to secure affordable and adequate housing, Montreal, Toronto, and Vancouver have attracted different immigrant populations who are presented with distinct economic conditions and housing markets. As a result, there are some common patterns in housing consumption among immigrants across the three cities, but there are quite profound differences as well. The situation is particularly variegated when we examine the outcomes for specific immigrant admission categories and visible minority groups. In general, immigrants reach high levels of home ownership, especially in Toronto and Vancouver, and probably have a significant impact on the housing markets of the two cities. But there are also many who cannot find a comfortable foothold in the housing market. The experiences of refugees in the three cities are highlighted, and we find that, in the long term, refugees approach the total population in terms of home ownership levels and, also, the ratio of individuals under financial stress in the housing market. This rather positive story has only become apparent because of our access to new data, and suggests that we should reconsider the commonplace understanding of refugees as representing a long-term burden on Canadian society.