Alberta made big news yesterday for officially raising their minimum wage to $15 an hour, the highest in all of Canada. But, even now, experts claim that the increase still isn't enough to be considered a livable wage in some parts of the province.


More from the Canadian Income series: 

That got us thinking about how much it actually costs, on average, to live in some of Canada's biggest cities, and the numbers are shocking. As it turns out, in almost every single major city in Canada, the cost of living is higher than the annual income of someone earning minimum wage. 

There are a lot of different factors that contribute to the cost of living in any given city. The rental and housing market, the cost of transportation, geographic location within the city, and of course, municipal and provincial governments all play a significant role. 

The minimum wage is also different across the country, since it is determined by the provincial government. So, someone earning minimum wage in Halifax will be making less than someone earning minimum wage in Calgary. 

Now, keeping all that in mind, here's how affordable life is in these major Canadian cities for someone making minimum wage. 

1. Vancouver

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Minimum Wage: $12.65/hour which amounts to an average of $24,888 annually. 

Average Cost of Living: $35,089.56/year 

In Vancouver, one of the most expensive Canadian cities to live in, the minimum wage is only $12.65, resulting in a $10,000 gap between what people are earning and how much it costs to live. With their earnings, someone making minimum wage at 40 hours a week could, on average, only afford rent, and nothing else. This is the worst case scenario for minimum wage workers. Fortunately, over the next 5 years, the wage is due to go up to $15.22/hour. 


2. Calgary

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Minimum Wage: $15/hour with amounts to an average of $28,800 annually.

Average Cost of Living: $27,180/year 

With the highest minimum wage in the country as of yesterday, and one of the lower costs of living, Calgary is one of the only major cities in Canada where people earning minimum wage on average can afford life in the city. Their earnings would  allow them to pay rent, eat well, and even enjoy some entertainment while also saving a bit of money. The rest of Canada should follow suit. 


3. Toronto

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Minimum Wage: $14/hour which amounts to an average of $26,880 annually.

Average Cost of Living: $32,885/year 

Like Vancouver, Toronto is a really expensive city to live in. In fact, it is another example of a city in Canada where people making minimum wage can't even afford to really live there. If someone earning minimum wage cut their spending down to the absolute necessities - i.e. rent, food, and transportation - they would just barely be able to afford life in Toronto. But, that is a life without any entertainment and no phone or internet. 

READ ALSO: Good Luck Out There, Toronto's Average Cost Of A One Bedroom Rental Just Hit $2,220


4. Ottawa

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Minimum Wage: $14/hour which amounts to an average of $26,880 annually.

Average Cost of Living: $28,718/year 

Being in Ontario as well, Ottawa has the same minimum wage as Toronto, but the cost of living is quite a bit lower. In Ottawa, the annual living expenses are about $4000 lower than in Toronto, but that's still not low enough for people earning minimum wage to effectively live there. While it is much closer than Toronto or Vancouver, there is still a $2000 gap between average annual income and expenses for someone making minimum wage in the city. 


5. Montreal

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Minimum Wage: $12/hour which amounts to an average of $23,040 annually. 

Average Cost of Living: $22,607.76/year 

Montreal joins Calgary in the rare league of Canadian cities where people earning minimum wage can actually afford to live there. While they do have one of the lower minimum wages on this list at only $12, they also have one of the lowest costs of living in all of Canada. This means that, even if you work full time and only earn minimum wage, you can actually afford rent, food, transportation, and all that stuff. You may even have some spending money left over, albeit not a lot. 

READ ALSO FROM MTL BLOG: Living In Montreal Is Officially More Expensive Thanks To Valérie Plante


6. Halifax

@eastcoastkmembedded via  

Minimum Wage: $12/hour which amounts to an average of $21,120 annually. 

Average Cost of Living: $25,209.18/year

Halifax has one of the lower costs of living in this list. However, they also have the lowest minimum wage. With those two factors in mind, even though the cost of living in Halifax is much lower than say Toronto or Vancouver, people earning minimum wage here still are unable to afford to live in the city.

The good news for people in Halifax is that rent on it's own tends to be cheaper than other places, with the average one bedroom only costing around $1000 a month. 

Another thing worth noting about the big gaps between the minimum wages and costs of living is that the numbers listed don't necessarily account for taxes. Income tax amounts vary from province to province, but still have an impact on a person's total earnings for the year.

READ ALSO: Here's How Much A Server Is Getting Paid Per Hour By Province In Canada

That being said, there is hope in cities like Calgary and Montreal that a livable wage is reachable in Canada - it's just a question of when. 

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