Colleges and Institutes Canada Call on the Government’s Support in Addressing the Student Housing Crisis on National Housing Day

Ottawa, November 22, 2023 – On the occasion of National Housing Day, Colleges and Institutes Canada (CICan) today issued the following official statement: 

“Safe, affordable, and attainable student housing is vital to an inclusive and accessible post-secondary education. Unfortunately, Canada is grappling with a housing crisis that has cast its shadow on students, among other vulnerable groups. 

Unfortunately, Canada’s Fall Economic Statement, tabled yesterday, did not address the critical issue of student housing despite our recommendations. We express our deep concern that the Government of Canada has not yet tackled the distinct challenges students face in securing safe, affordable, and attainable housing.

Rising rental costs, inflation, a scarcity of affordable housing options, and an increasing demand for college and institute programs have pushed a significant portion of our student population into core housing need. This is defined by the Canadian Canada Mortgage and Housing Corporation as inadequate, unaffordable, or ill-suited housing conditions. According to the 2022 UTILE report, 43% of students reported that their current housing needed urgent repairs, and 17% felt physically unsafe in their residences.  

Colleges and institutes are keenly aware of the challenges the housing shortage poses on their students and recognize their critical role in finding solutions. We are actively establishing new partnerships and implementing innovative yet practical solutions to accelerate the development, approvals, and construction of new student accommodations. These efforts are crucial to providing education that futureproofs the workforce and ensures it is equipped with the skills needed to respond to economic challenges. Successful learning cannot happen without adequate and appropriate housing conditions.

Still, additional support is needed. The housing crisis extends beyond the student population and is shaped by a multitude of factors that lie beyond the purview of colleges and institutes. And, despite Canada’s National Housing Strategy (NHS), which includes a variety of funds and programs, the strategy does not effectively address the needs of students, and colleges/institutes face multiple barriers to accessing funding for student housing projects. Eligibility is limited, dorm-style residences are excluded, and student-only housing is not permitted. Furthermore, current federal housing policies and data exclude students, limiting the ability to understand and address housing challenges students face. We are therefore advocating for a holistic approach to addressing student housing needs as an integral part of the comprehensive response to Canada’s overarching housing crisis. 

CICan and its members recommend the Government implement a $2.6 billion Student Housing Loan and Grant program available to post-secondary institutions with the objective of adding 40,000 student beds across Canada. We also recommend that student housing needs are thoroughly reflected in federal housing policies, data and programs.  

It is ironic that the sector providing training for the trades, including specialized programs and a comprehensive array of over 300 pre-apprenticeship programs – 80 of which are specifically designed to support traditionally underrepresented groups – would need to fight for inclusion in this conversation.”

About Colleges and Institutes Canada: 

Colleges and Institutes Canada (CICan) is the national and international voice of Canada’s largest post-secondary education network. It advocates, builds capacity, and drives knowledge to strengthen Canada’s publicly supported colleges, institutes, CEGEPs, and polytechnics. With more than 95% of Canadians living within 50 km of a member institution, and thanks to its extensive reach around the globe, CICan works to future-proof communities in Canada and abroad. 

We respectfully acknowledge that CICan’s offices in Ottawa are located on the traditional and unceded territory of the Algonquin Anishinaabe Nation.  


For more information: 

Katrina King 

Senior Digital Communications Officer
Colleges and Institutes Canada
Twitter: @CollegeCan