CMHC: Pandemic adds to housing challenges in the North

Press Release

Ottawa, November 17, 2021

The COVID-19 pandemic caused significant impacts on housing markets in Yukon, Northwest Territories, and Nunavut over the last year, according to Canada Mortgage and Housing Corporation’s (CMHC) 2021 Northern Housing Report. The closure of Canadian lumber mills, as a COVID-19 preventative measure, caused disruption in supply and volatility in the price of lumber. This combined with the high costs of land and labour in the North, put downward pressure on the creation of new housing supply over the last year, further exacerbating persistent housing supply and housing affordability challenges.

The housing need in the North and the territorial capitals of Whitehorse, Yellowknife, and Iqaluit is higher as compared to the rest of the country, especially Iqaluit. These supply and affordability challenges are why housing in the North is a strong priority under Canada’s first National Housing Strategy (NHS), and why significant federal and territorial government investments were made into housing in recent months and in Budget 2021, in recognition of these distinct challenges (see below).You can download the entire 2021 Northern Housing Report here.

Report highlights:

  • Whitehorse’s population growth has remained steady, despite an aging population.
  • Increases in interprovincial and international migration have supported population growth.
  • The single-detached segment is seeing record high resale prices due to strong demand and limited supply.
  • Whitehorse continues to face housing affordability challenges, as market options are out of reach for some households without financial assistance.


  • Population growth in the Northwest Territories remained flat, with an aging and expanding senior population putting pressure on affordability issues.
  • Sales and average home prices reached all-time highs supported by economic recovery and low mortgage rates.
  • Vacancies decreased as demand remained constant throughout the year, while rental supply declined.


  • Nunavut continues to experience high population growth. This has created additional demand pressures for new housing, however new supply has been unable to keep pace.
  • Rental market demand remains strong in Iqaluit, as the vacancy rate was near zero for the third consecutive year.
  • Affordability continues to be one of the most pressing concerns for housing in Nunavut. The younger population and seniors seem to experience greater market affordability challenges.

Market overview – excluding social housing:
Average Rent (two bedroom): $1,296
Vacancy Rate: 2.1%
Average Monthly Mortgage: $1,539 (entire Yukon)

Average Rent (two bedroom): $1,769
Vacancy Rate: 3.6%
Average Monthly Mortgage: $1,602 (entire NWT)

Average Rent (two bedroom): $2,785
Vacancy Rate: .7%
Average Monthly Mortgage: $1,886 (entire Nunavut)

National Housing Strategy (NHS) Funding Announcements:

Through the National Housing Strategy, bilateral agreements have been signed between the federal government and all three territories to continue the flow of federal funding over the long term. This funding includes a new Canada Housing Benefit (CHB), which provides financial assistance directly to households to address affordability challenges of the most vulnerable within the territories.

The North has also benefited from several housing projects announced through NHS housing supply programs, the National Housing Co-Investment Fund (NHCF) and the Rapid Housing Initiative (RHI), both administered by CMHC.

As of June 30, 2021, through the National Housing Strategy, the federal government has invested $331 million to help 2,962 households access safe and secure housing in Nunavut, $312 million to help 4,828 households in Northwest Territories, and $178 million to help 2,973 households in Yukon.

Northern housing and infrastructure investments in Budget 2021

** Information on further National Housing Strategy announcements for the North can be found in the CMHC Media Newsroom. **

Information on this release:
CMHC Media Relations
[email protected]

The CMHC Northern Housing Report focuses on housing market conditions across the three major centres in the Territories; Whitehorse, Yellowknife, and Iqaluit.A large proportion of households in the Territories don’t participate in the traditional home ownership or rental markets. This is because there is a higher proportion of subsidized housing as compared to the rest of Canada, with territorial housing providers provide a large proportion of housing in the North. The three main providers are: Yukon Housing Corporation, Northwest Territories Housing Corporation, and Nunavut Housing Corporation.


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