With Canadian house prices less affordable than they’ve been in more than 30 years, who your parents are is playing a bigger role in determining whether you can buy a home yourself.

Adult children of homeowners were more than twice as likely to own a home as those of non-homeowners, according to a study by Statistics Canada based on 2021 data. More than 17 per cent owned homes, compared with about eight per cent for the adult children of non-homeowners. Among adults whose parents owned multiple properties, the homeownership rate was almost 24 per cent. 

Housing affordability has become a growing political issue in Canada with Prime Minister Justin Trudeau struggling for a fix as he trails in the polls and even faces calls to leave from his own party. While broader inflation has started to ease with higher interest rates, a pre-existing shortage of housing stock has limited the impact on home prices, while also pushing up rents. 

This has meant that while home prices have come down, it hasn’t been enough to offset higher mortgage costs and affordability has actually worsened. The Bank of Canada’s own housing affordability index is now near the highest level since 1990. 

“These results reveal a link between parents’ housing wealth and their children’s homeownership outcomes,” Statistics Canada said in a press release accompanying the study. While this could be due to wealthier parents helping pay for homes for their adult children, it could also be linked to better access to certain social networks for those offspring, and to greater investment in their education, the study said.