Most Canadian provinces own and operate public housing. Manitoba is unique in maintaining a per capita public housing stock that is two to three times the level of other western provinces.
• Provincial government ownership/management of public housing in Canada peaked in 1992.
• Based on “Units of Public Housing per 10,000 Population” in 1992, Manitoba had the highest level of government housing at 118, which was well above second place Ontario at 103. Both provinces had high levels of government housing ownership compared to other provinces.
• In 2008 Manitoba remained the highest at 110 per 10,000 while second place Ontario declined to 84.
• Compared to other western provinces, Manitoba public housing ownership, at 110 per 10,000, is orders of magnitude higher – over twice the levels in Saskatchewan and British Columbia (220%), and over 3 times the Alberta level (305%).
• Manitoba’s housing market has been beset by rent control since the 1970s. This has sharply discouraged the private supply of rental housing while not coincidentally stoking demand for government housing. Public housing projects are more costly to operate with and are less desirable because they have tendencies to concentrate social pathologies and crime.
• In this distorted housing market, vulnerable groups are especially impacted by the lowest apartment vacancies in Canada or forced waits for frequently substandard government housing.
• A more effective approach would be to 1) end rent controls to stimulate normal apartment rental supply; 2) sell the government housing portfolio, and; 3) deploy the operating savings to a rental supplement program which would benefit 21,000 Manitobans according to a new Frontier Centre backgrounder (www.fcpp.org).
Sources: Canada Mortgage and Housing Corporation.1992b; Canadian Housing Statistics,1992. Ottawa.