What Hangs on Bedrooms?

The Conservatives apparently think that it is deeply intrusive for the state to count your bedrooms through the mandatory long form census.

“Asked to explain why this matters to the core Conservative constituency, one senior Tory strategist said, on background: “It’s all about the nanny state. Why is it mandatory to tell the government how many bedrooms are in your house?” http://www.theglobeandmail.com/news/politics/tories-refuse-to-reverse-census-decision/article1641394/

Actually, there is a pretty good reason.  Housing is a key aspect of well being and, as noted on the Human Resources and Skills Development web site “Housing that is too costly, in need of repair, or overcrowded can be a large drain on the resources and health of its occupants.”  While having multiple bedrooms may be a lifestyle choice for the affluent,  many Canadians (especially Aboriginal Canadians and larger low income families with children) can’t afford suitable housing as defined by the number of bedrooms.

Canada Mortgage and Housing Corporation uses Census data to determine how many households are in core housing need. One of the criiteria is that hosuing should meet the National Occupancy Standard defined as follows:

Suitable housing has enough bedrooms for the size and make-up of resident households, according to National Occupancy Standard (NOS) requirements. Enough bedrooms based on NOS requirements means one bedroom for:

● each cohabiting adult couple;
● unattached household member 18 years of age and over;
● same-sex pair of children under age 18;
● and additional boy or girl in the family, unless there are two opposite sex children under 5 years of age, in which case they are expected to share a bedroom.

A household of one individual can occupy a bachelor unit (i.e. a unit with no bedroom).

Based on the last Census, 12.7% of Canadian households have  an unmet core housing need. Do “senior Tory strategists” care?  I doubt it.


  • awesome post Andrew!

    I do think this could prove to be another major fiasco of the tories. How can leadership in the modern age of information not see that the number of bedrooms actually do have a causal link to the well being of the country. Having their minds are so fixated on some reform agenda for some over blown notion of privacy is now potentially going to cost Canadians a whole bunch more due to the ideological blinders of Harper and his reform friends. I am truly puzzled, as someone else pointed out, who exactly is supporting the tories in this endeavor? Nobody but the core hard line radical reformers, that is who.

  • I think Harper’s strategy was quite clear. He was throwing a bone to both the illiterate and educated libertarian contingents in the his party. Let us just call it a bone to the Bastiat society. It is good to remeber there now are as many red-tories as libertarians inside the conservative party and Harper is clearly from the libertarian Christian contingent.

    Read Bastiat’s “Economic Harmonies” and you will get a sense of how to weave libertarianism and Christianity together.

    Here is the crib note version: the state is a man made institution which more often than not works against providence.

    Its more secular version takes the form of the Second Law of Social Existence:

    “There is a definitive quantity of misery in the world; it can not be created or destroyed, it can merely be displaced.”

  • Ha! I just used the bedrooms data in a paper I handed in for a population economics course.

    I was surprised when looking through census measures that they would bother counting bedrooms per dwelling because it seems like a somewhat trivial piece of information at first glance. But I was interested in abortions, and I figured the amount of room one has in their house for extra kids might affect birthing decisions at the margin.

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