A Minimum Wage Job Won’t Let You Rent an Average Apartment in Most Canadian Neighbourhoods

“It is frankly outrageous that when we talk about the housing crisis, we don’t often talk about the crisis faced by Canadian renters.”                                                                                                           

David Macdonald, senior economist, Canadian Centre for Policy Alternatives

– David Macdonald, senior economist, Canadian Centre for Policy Alternatives

From David Macdonald, Senior Economist, Canadian Centre for Policy Alternatives

Posted July 31st, 2019 on Niagara At Large

It’s frankly outrageous that when we talk about the housing crisis, we don’t often talk about the crisis faced by Canadian renters.

Recently, you may have seen or heard stories in the media about a new CCPA report on skyrocketing rental prices.

The fact that it is impossible, in all but a handful of Canadian neighbourhoods, to rent an average apartment if you’re paid the minimum wage really struck a nerve.

I was surprised myself when researching my paper—Unaccommodating: The Rental Wage in Canada (https://www.policyalternatives.ca/unaccommodating?mc_cid=033d0f2c81&mc_eid=[UNIQID]) —that for Canada’s 4.7 million households who rent their homes, you need to make an average of $22 an hour to be able to affordably pay your rent.

It is frankly outrageous that when we talk about the housing crisis, we don’t often talk about the crisis faced by Canadian renters.

It doesn’t have to be this way. Thanks to continued support from people like you, we were able to draw significant attention to the findings of our new report, which maps the rental affordability crisis from coast-to-coast.

An overheated rental market

Out of the almost 800 neighbourhoods examined in our study, we found that:

  • In only 9% of neighbourhoods can someone working full-time at minimum wage afford to rent the average one-bedroom apartment. That number falls to 3% for two-bedroom apartments.
  • The highest rental wages are found in Metro Vancouver ($35.43/h for a two bedroom) and the Greater Toronto Area ($33.70/h). There are no neighbourhoods in these cities where a full-time minimum wage worker could afford either a one- or two-bedroom rental, but the picture isn’t much better across the rest of Canada.

The affordable housing crisis

The rent crisis affects a large number of people in our communities, from young adults to seniors on fixed incomes, and the one-in-four Canadian workers who earn within three dollars of the minimum wage. Vulnerable and marginalized populations—like LGBTQ2+ persons, individuals fleeing domestic gender-based violence and people living with disabilities—are on the front lines of this crisis.

For everyone who has experienced the stress of finding an affordable place to rent, these findings will come as no surprise. And with prices showing no sign of falling, all parties need to make rental affordability a priority for this year’s election, not an afterthought.

Everyone deserves a decent place to live. But an out-of-control rental market is forcing many to choose between a roof over their heads and other basic necessities of life.

It’s a crisis we can’t afford to ignore any longer.

We’ve only begun to scratch the surface of what is possible when we put this kind of data in the hands of community advocates, everyday people and policymakers. Your continued support will allow us to do even more.

  • Sincerely, David Macdonald, CCPA Senior Economist

How much do you need to earn to afford rent in your neighbourhood? Study breaks it down by hourly wage (https://www.thestar.com/news/gta/2019/07/18/minimum-wage-workers-cant-afford-rent-in-most-of-canada-study-shows.html?mc_cid=033d0f2c81&mc_eid=[UNIQID])


About the Canadian Centre for Policy Alternatives – The CCPA is one of Canada’s leading sources of progressive policy ideas. Our work is rooted in the values of social justice and environmental sustainability. As non corporate-funded policy think tanks continue to be silenced, the importance of the Centre has never been greater.

Visit the Canada Centre for Policy Alternatives’ website by clicking on – https://www.policyalternatives.ca/ .

For related information, click on the links below.

The Toronto Star

Minimum wage earners struggling to pay rent across Canada (https://www.ctvnews.ca/video?clipId=1732946&playlistId=1.4513864&binId=1.810401&playlistPageNum=1&binPageNum=1&mc_cid=033d0f2c81&mc_eid=[UNIQID])


CCPA Senior Economist David Macdonald speaks with CTV News’ Beverly Thompson about rental affordability. Affordable rental housing is nearly nonexistent for low-wage workers (https://www.theglobeandmail.com/business/commentary/article-affordable-rental-housing-is-nearly-nonexistent-for-minimum-wage/?mc_cid=033d0f2c81&mc_eid=[UNIQID])

The Globe and Mail




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“A politician thinks of the next election. a leader thinks of the next generation.” – Bernie Sanders

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