Skip to main content

Ontario may soon count student residences as homes to reach housing goal


The Ontario government is looking into counting student residences and retirement spaces to meet its 10-year target of building 1.5 million homes.

The government confirmed this intention in a letter sent to the City of Mississauga at the end of March in response to a request to change the way housing is counted municipally.

In the letter, Housing Minister Paul Calandra said his office is exploring whether to track “other institutional types of housing” as it works towards its housing goal.

This includes student residences and retirement homes.

“We will continue to explore data sources for tracking the numbers of other institutional types of housing such as student residences and retirement homes for future program years and commit to engaging municipalities on the same,” Calandra wrote.

The province has been using housing starts to calculate its progress on the 2021 campaign promise made by the Progressive Conservatives to build 1.5 million homes.

A housing start is defined by the Canada Mortgage and Housing Corporation (CMHC) as “the beginning of construction work on abuilding where the dwelling unit will be located.”

Private figures used in the provincial budget show that 88,000 housing starts are expected in 2024. That number is expected to slowly rise over the next three years, but fall short of the over 100,000 homes needed annually to reach its target.

The province’s own count suggests that 109,011 new homes were created in Ontario in 2023.

This includes 9,835 long-term care home beds, which the government has also chosen to count as housing, something opposition parties have argued inflates the measurements.




Premier Doug Ford has defended the inclusion of long-term care beds multiple times, saying that he challenges those critical of the decision to talk to a senior and tell them they don’t live in a home.

"When a senior living in a condo moves out to long-term care, it's called a home,” Ford told reporters in March. “They have their own room. They eat in a dining room with everyone else.”

Using this argument, it appears as though the Ford government could try and place student residences under this umbrella.

The CMHC, however, doesn’t count dwellings that do not have their own entrance, kitchen and bathroom. This includes nursing homes, student housing and hostels.

They also do not count mobile homes that are not permanently attached to a site and summer cottages that are not occupied year-round.

Ontario NDP Leader Marit Stiles criticized the Ford government's choice to include both long-term care beds and student residences in their housing count.

"You can't even have a microwave in a dorm room," Stiles said during question period Tuesday. "My goodness, that is not a home. What's next?"

Calandra defended the policy consideration, saying that students should be allowed to live close to campus and that the PCs will "invest in student housing so that students can have a home." Top Stories

Stay Connected