A couple in Vancouver, who had applied for a unit in a co-op housing complex, were the first in line to claim the apartment until the newest member of their family arrived – a girl child.

According to the guidelines of the Canada Mortgage and Housing Corporation (CMHC), an “additional boy or girl in the family” can share the same bedroom if they are of the same sex or “two opposite sex children under 5 years of age.”

Kristjan Gottfried and his seven-month-pregnant wife Michelle Hurtig already have a two-year-old son. The couple were elated to learn that they qualified for a two-bedroom apartment in the Marina Housing Co-operative because that meant that their one-income family would only have to pay $895 instead of the $1840 in rent that they currently pay.

However, their happiness was short lived. A representative of the housing co-operative called them to let them know that their application would only go through once the couple lets them know what the sex of the unborn child is.

The couple were also made aware that their dream apartment would go to the next applicant if their second child happened to be a girl, which is exactly what happened eventually. 

Even though the couple still have three years to go before the sex of their children becomes an issue based on the CMHC standards, the housing co-operative decided to deny them the opportunity.

"I would describe it as being completely outrageous and appalling and just unbelievable," Gottfried told CBC News. "It's discrimination. We get the room if our children are the same sex and we don't get the room if our children are not the same sex. It's very, very clear-cut discrimination.”

Jennifer Ramsay, a spokesperson for the Ontario Human Rights Legal Support Centre, said that Gottfried was not wrong in stating that this was a case of discrimination. "Frankly, I am incredulous that somebody would ask the gender of somebody's baby before it's born," she said. "There are many discriminatory policies that are on the books and they live there for years until they're challenged legally."

Ramsay also elaborated on the deplorable condition of affordable housing in Canada, especially Vancouver, which has the lowest vacancy rate and the highest rent increases in the country.

"It's just getting worse. And to arbitrarily deny someone housing based on the fact that their children may be of different genders — it's completely absurd," she said. Ramsay believes the discrimination here is two-fold. The policy discriminates against the sex of the baby and the makeup of the family as not every family can afford a bedroom per child.

The co-op board, however, has denied the allegation of discrimination, saying that Gottfried and Hurtig were never considered for the unit and that it was the couple who had bombarded them with messages regarding the same.

The couple will have to apply for a three-bedroom apartment instead, which might take years to get. Gottfried said that he was really excited to settle in their new home, but now will have to end up leaving Vancouver since they cannot afford to stay there anymore.