Everyone knows renting is expensive, particularly in Canada's big cities. However, a new study into the affordability of Ontario rent has shown the true extent of the gap between rent and wages, and it's pretty frightening. In the report, only two neighbourhoods in the whole of the province are classed as affordable.
A new report from the Canadian Centre for Policy Alternatives (CCPA) titled "Unaccommodating: Housing rental wage in Canada" looked at the affordability of rent for one- and two-bedroom apartments in 795 Canadian neighbourhoods.
Measuring affordability using the "rental wage," defined as the hourly wage you'd need to afford an average apartment without spending more than 30% of your salary.
CCPA researcher and author of the report, David Macdonald, says that figure is a national standard accounting for other necessary expenses, "including taxes and everything else you've got to buy - diapers, transit, and so forth," as quoted by the Toronto Star.
The report alarmingly determined that there are no neighbourhoods in the Greater Toronto Area in which a full-time minimum wage earner could afford even a modest one-bedroom apartment.
None, out of a cited 117.
"It's very difficult for someone working at or near minimum wage to find a decent place to live," Macdonald added, as quoted by Global News.
"I mean, we're not talking about the Ritz here, we're just talking about a one- or two-bedroom apartment."
The #rentalwage is so high that in 97% of neighbourhoods a min wage worker can't afford a modest 2bdrm apt. In 31… https://t.co/U2RXrDdEiQ— David Macdonald (@David Macdonald) 1563457371.0
In fact, there are only two residential communities in Ontario in which a full-time worker on minimum wage — set provincially at $14 per hour — could afford a comfortable two-bedroom apartment. Those are in Sudbury and St. Catharines, both some way outside the GTA.
In comparison, in the city of Toronto, would-be renters would need to earn nearly $34 per hour on average to afford a two-bed. That's the equivalent of working a 96-hour week at minimum wage, which sounds delightful. Even renting a modest one-bedroom would, on average, require 79 hours of work per week.
Macdonald's study is based on rent and wage figures from October 2018 and uses an average rent of $1,440 for a one-bedroom unit and $1,750 for a two-bed in the Toronto area.
However, as noted by the Toronto Star, those averages take into account the rent of both occupied and unoccupied units, so a new tenant's financial burden would almost certainly be even higher.
Looks like it might be time to start considering some of Canada's cheapest cities.