Statistics Canada says 14 percent of Canadian households were kept at an ‘unsafe or uncomfortable temperature’ for at least four weeks in the past year.
Updated: October 31, 2023
Some Canadians are not able to afford to heat or cool their homes, a new Statistics Canada report shows.
The report, released on Oct. 30, said that 14 percent of Canadian households were kept at an “unsafe or uncomfortable temperature” for at least four weeks in the past year.
“In the face of rising energy prices, not all Canadian households are able to adequately heat and cool their dwellings, resulting in possible increased risk of climate-related morbidity and even death,” Statistics Canada said.
Two percent of households reported someone in the home required medical care because the home was too hot or too cold, the report says.
Additionally, numbers show that 3 percent of households reported having their energy disconnected or shut off in the last 12 months. One in 10 said they were unable to pay their bill on time or at all.
The numbers come just days after Prime Minister Justin Trudeau announced a pause of the carbon tax on heating oil for three years. Mr. Trudeau said it would ease the financial stress on Canadians.
“If you live in a rural community, you don’t have the same options that people who live in cities do. We get that. So, this is more money in your pocket to recognize those realities, even as we continue to fight climate change,” he said.
However, many provinces are saying that won’t help and are calling on the federal government to cut the carbon tax.
Conservative Party Leader Pierre Poilievre brought up the Statistics Canada numbers during question period in Parliament on Oct. 31.
“Already, 14 percent of Canadians are living with unsafe temperatures in their homes. One in 10 have missed a heating bill in the last 12 months. Will he, before people go cold and hungry, axe the tax so that people can keep the heat on?” he asked the prime minister.
Mr. Trudeau responded by saying his government had a plan to reduce heating costs for Canadians.
“We’re putting forward a program that is going to give free heat pumps installed right across the country,” he said. “As long as the provinces step up and partner with us the way three provinces already have. We know the best way to support families is to have them save thousands of dollars a year on heating. That is what they’re going to be able to do with a heat pump.”
Lack of Air Conditioning
The Statistics Canada report notes that it is not just homes being too cold, but also too hot.
The report found that just over a quarter of households do not have air conditioning, which puts families at risk for heat-related illness or death.
In 2023, 26 percent of households across the country said they did not have air conditioning or cooling equipment. Those in lower-income households were more likely to go without air conditioning (36 percent) compared to 15 percent among those in the highest income bracket.
Those who live in apartments are most likely to lack air conditioning, StatCan’s numbers showed, with 38 percent in low-rise apartments going without and 33 percent in high-rise apartments.
Going Without Basics
Statistics Canada numbers also show that one in seven Canadians had to go without basic necessities, like food and medicine, to pay energy bills. About 8 percent said they had to do it for at least three months.
Single-parent families were most likely to have to cut back on basic needs to pay energy bills (27 percent). Numbers show that single parents were 1.5 times more likely to face this situation than couples with children and three times more likely than couples without children.