A new study by a Wellesley Institute employee put minimum wage on blast. Nishi Kumar wanted to see how much it actually costs to live in Toronto, food and shelter aside. Many studies focus on the bare bones of living - essentially just rent and groceries - but as well all know, life has many expenses.
Kumar based her study on how much a person needs in order to 'thrive' in Toronto - not simply survive. She defines thriving as a "higher standard of living that promotes good health today and in the future." So just to clarify, this definition of thriving doesn't include 8-course dinners or extravagant purchases, but components that make a satisfying and enjoyable lifestyle.
In addition to basic survival needs like nutrition and shelter, Kumar accounted for necessities that contribute to better physical and mental health like transportation (be it TTC, car payments, etc.), health insurance that OHIP doesn't cover like dental and classes, personal care costs like laundry, haircuts and clothing, social fees like cellphone plans, Wi-Fi, travel, subscriptions, a budget for entertainment like movie tickets, meals out etc. She also allocated a certain amount of spending towards education, software purchases for work and school, tech purchases/maintenance and saving for retirement/paying off debt - be it credit card, OSAP, etc.
A minimum wage worker in Toronto right now takes home about $20,000 after taxes - a sum that doesn't come close to funding a 'thriving' lifestyle. Even with the minimum wage raise in the coming years, workers would be taking home $25,500 after tax, which still doesn't touch the salary needed to thrive.
To live a healthy, balanced lifestyle in the GTA Kumar found that it would cost a single person anywhere between $46,186 and $55,432 after tax. Nearly double what the average minimum wage worker earns per year. Kumar notes that this baseline figure could be hit by "rising income and improving public services, social programs, employer-sponsored benefits, and community facilities." She also notes that an influx of post-secondary tuition grants could reduce student debt and an increase of federal investment in affordable housing could help GTA residents achieve more attainable lifestyles.