Dictionary, Census of Population, 2021
Housing suitability

Release date: November 17, 2021Updated on: October 26, 2022


Housing suitability refers to whether a private household is living in suitable accommodations according to the National Occupancy Standard (NOS); that is, whether the dwelling has enough bedrooms for the size and composition of the household. A household is deemed to be living in suitable accommodations if its dwelling has enough bedrooms, as calculated using the NOS.

'Housing suitability' assesses the required number of bedrooms for a household based on the age, sex, and relationships among household members. An alternative variable, 'persons per room,' considers all rooms in a private dwelling and the number of household members.

Housing suitability and the National Occupancy Standard (NOS) on which it is based were developed by Canada Mortgage and Housing Corporation (CMHC) through consultations with provincial housing agencies.

Statistical unit(s)


Reported in

2021 and 2016 (25% sample) and 2011Footnote 1 (30% sample).

Reported for

Private households

Question number(s)

Derived variable: Questions 2, 4, 5, 6, 7 and E3b)


In the standard products, the most detailed classification is as follows:


Not suitable

One-bedroom shortfall

Two-bedroom shortfall

Three-or-more-bedroom shortfall


The NOS derives the number of bedrooms a household requires as follows:

An exception to the above is a household consisting of one individual living alone. Such a household would not need a bedroom (i.e., the individual may live in a studio apartment and be considered to be living in suitable accommodations).

See also the persons per room definition.


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