How Toronto’s housing market is transforming the rest of Canada

A term I often hear mentioned in the conversation around housing accessibility is that “housing is a human right.” Why, then, do our cities seemingly go to great lengths to prevent housing from being built?Since the mid-2010s, Toronto’s housing shortage has driven families to move out of the Greater Toronto Area, or GTA, to cities like Kitchener and Woodstock, or smaller communities in the province. Before the pandemic, this phenomenon was limited to a 100-kilometre radius from the GTA, since people still had to commute to work. Now, as remote work becomes the norm,  we’re seeing a big uptick in the number of families moving to Alberta and Atlantic Canada. The number of Ontarians moving to Nova Scotia has almost doubled since the pandemic—8,166 people between 2019 and 2020 compared with 15,862 between 2021 and 2022. Meanwhile, the number of Ontarians moving to Alberta went from 14,550 to 29,422 in the same time span. This is also the first time since 2014 that the number of Ontarians moving to Alberta exceeded the number of Albertans moving to Ontario.With the exodus, home prices have been steadily skyrocketing for years throughout Southern Ontario, following the same pattern as those in the GTA. In April 2017, when prices first started to sharply rise in the area, the benchmark price of a single-family home in Kitchener-Waterloo, for example, rose 35 per cent from the previous year to a benchmark price of $518,900, up from $381,700. Now, similar price hikes are happening in places like Halifax, where home prices have risen 15 per cent over the past year, jumping from an average of $434,700 in September 2021 to $499,900 in September 2022 according to the Canadian Real Estate Association.

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