A person who works minimum wage can't afford rent in most Canadian neighbourhoods, according to a new study.
The Canadian Centre for Policy Alternatives report shows the average national wage someone needs to make to afford renting a two-bedroom apartment is $22 an hour. For a one-bedroom apartment, it drops a toonie, to $20 an hour.
But this can be much higher in big cities like Toronto or Vancouver, where it’s closer to $35 an hour.
The report says it is possible for a minimum-wage worker to comfortably afford the average two-bedroom apartment in only 3 per cent of the 795 neighbourhoods the study observed. And a minimum-wage worker can afford an average-priced one-bedroom in only nine per cent of the Canadian neighbourhoods observed.
Outside of Ontario cities Sudbury and St. Catharines, these affordable neighbourhoods are all located in smaller Quebec cities like Saguenay, Trois-Rivières and Sherbrooke.
David Macdonald, the author of the study, explains this means there are entire cities where there are no neighbourhoods where a minimum-wage worker can afford a two-bedroom apartment, and often no neighbourhoods where they can even afford a one-bedroom.
One-fifth of Montreal neighbourhoods remain affordable
Take Montreal for example. According to the study, in Montreal a full-time minimum wage worker can only afford the average one-bedroom apartment in a fifth of the city’s neighbourhoods. But “minimum-wage workers are shut out of decent two-bedroom apartments, with no neighbourhoods offering affordable rent in this category.”
In over half of Montreal neighbourhoods, if the minimum wage was boosted to $15 an hour, a full-time worker could comfortably afford to rent a two-bedroom apartment. Several of those neighbourhoods are on the island itself.
The most expensive rentals on the island are found in Outremont, Ville-Marie, Pointe-Claire, Plateau-Montreal and Mount-Royal, to name a few.
The least expensive are more scattered across Montreal, and include Saint-Michel, Saint-Jean-Sur-Richelieu, Ile Bizard, and Mirabel.
The report states the rental affordability crisis affects one third of Canadian households, which amounts to 4.7 million families. Renting is more common among lower income families, but is also common with young adults, recent immigrants, and people who have just moved to a new city.
And this issue isn’t new.
“The rental wage has actually been increasing since the year 2000,” said MacDonald. “It’s been fairly stable in the 1990s- so it’s a situation that’s getting worse, not better. It mirrors in some ways the same trend line that we’re seeing in residential real-estate on the purchase side. It’s more expensive to buy houses and condos, but it’s also more expensive to rent.”