Source: Unsplash

There’s no shortage of bad ideas about how to fix Canada’s housing crisis. But what if time is short and you need to access all the bad ideas in one convenient location? Then make haste for the Office of the Federal Housing Advocate.

Over the past two years, Marie-Josée Houle, Canada’s first (and hopefully only) federal housing advocate, has established her office as Ottawa’s one-stop-shop for the worst possible advice on housing issues. Houle’s main obsession is with removing profit-making – or what she calls “financialization” – from Canada’s housing market.

Beyond forbidding anyone from making a living supplying accommodation to people who demand it, she also wants to make it impossible for landlords to evict tenants for almost any reason, impose a nationwide system of rent control, and grant homeless squatters virtual property rights over public parks.

But perhaps the most alarming of Houle’s many outrageous assertions and demands is that Canada’s housing market is rife with racism which, as a 2022 report claims, can only be eliminated by deliberate federal action. This advocate’s report calls for a public takeover of privately-owned apartment buildings and a ban on banks or pension funds lending to any “financialized” housing providers.

Setting aside the catastrophic implications of such policies, what should we make of the underlying claim that Canada’s housing market is rigged against “racialized communities”? The federal housing advocate musters no credible evidence that racists control the buying, selling or renting of housing in Canada. But ample data on race and housing from other sources tell a very different story. 

A recent Statistics Canada report looks at the “housing trajectories” of young Canadians by race and age. Housing trajectory refers to the process of starting off living in your parents’ house rent-free, moving out to become a renter, and then later owning a house. If Canada is as racist as Houle claims, whites should have a much easier time navigating this trajectory than others.

The results do reveal significant variations between races, but nothing that smacks of white supremacy. In fact, “South Asian and Chinese people had the highest rates [of home ownership] from early adulthood to middle age,” the report finds. The outcome for white age cohorts is as much as 24% below that of South Asians and Chinese. Blacks and Latin Americans, on the other hand, were the least likely to own a home by middle-age, with ownership rates 3 to 19 percentage points below that for whites.

“The large homeownership disparities observed among different population groups in their 20s were primarily attributed to differences in their tendency to live in the parental home,” the report observes, noting that differences in “family housing resources” shape future outcomes.

Chinese-Canadians are more likely to live at home with their parents as young adults. This means they spend less on rent and have more resources to buy a home later in life. At 84.5%, their total homeownership rate is well above the Canadian average of 71.9 percent and nearly double the rate for some other groups, including blacks at 45.2% and Latin Americans at 48%. This pattern of Chinese and other Asian people on top, whites in the middle, and blacks and Latin Americans at the bottom is repeated across numerous Statistics Canada reports covering education, income, poverty and employment.

If we are to believe that Canada is a country defined by racial discrimination, it appears white supremacists are doing a rather poor job of it. Based on the observed results, the chief culprits behind any racist takeover of Canada must instead be Asian. Or is there a more convincing explanation closer to home?

Recall how parental housing resources were a major factor in the housing trajectories of young Canadians. A new book The Two-Parent Privilege: How Americans Stopped Getting Married and Started Falling Behind by University of Maryland economist Melissa S. Kearney expands on this concept by revealing how the presence of married parents explains a host of socio-economic outcomes for their children.

“As a social scientist,” Kearney writes, “I am convinced that the two-parent family structure is, in general, advantageous for children and we cannot ignore what the growing prevalence of one-parent households means for children and inequality.”

According to Kearney’s research, cultural norms push Asian families to get and stay married regardless of other factors; this likely explains why they tend to congregate at the top of the leaderboard in so many categories. Other racial groups, blacks in particular, have much higher rates of single-parent families.  

Despite the federal housing advocate’s bluster that Canada’s housing market is fraught with racism, the evidence suggests observed racial variances are much more likely the result of factors within a household’s own control, and in particular marriage. What is widely decried as racism today is thus primarily a problem of the family. And as such, it requires family-based solutions far beyond the remit of government.

As British philosopher Bertrand Russell once wryly noted, the secret to a long and happy life is to “choose your parents wisely.”

Peter Shawn Taylor is senior features editor at C2C Journal. The original, longer version of this story first appeared in