Vacancy Rates Surge In Canada Amid Fallout of Covid-19 Pandemic

Vacancy rates jumped across Canada in 2020 as the Covid-19 pandemic brought disproportionate job losses to those most likely to rent their homes while also spurring a migration of people to smaller communities from the country’s major metros.

The average vacancy rate for rental units across the country climbed to 3.2% from 2% last year, Canada Mortgage and Housing Corp. reported Thursday. Toronto, the nation’s largest city and financial capital, had the highest vacancy rate in 14 years at 3.4%.

The Covid-19 pandemic has prompted an exodus from some of North America’s most expensive cities as professionals newly liberated to work remotely move further afield in search of more affordable accommodation. At the same time, people in the service industry and other face-to-face jobs have had to contend with higher unemployment from persistent lock down measures.

“The economic impact of the pandemic has significantly reduced rental demand,” Bob Dugan, CMHC’s chief economist, said in the release. “Lower international migration, fewer student renters and weaker employment conditions led to weaker inflows of new renters. While vacancy rates increased in many centres, we continue to see a need for more rental supply to ensure access to affordable housing.”

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