Can't afford the rent

Rental wages in Canada 2022
July 18, 2023
1.53 MB27 pages
Click here to read the full report online.

This study examines the gap between the minimum wage and what it costs to rent an apartment in Canada. The rental wage measure provides a clear picture of the relationship between wages and rents because it calculates the hourly wage required to afford rent while working a standard 40-hour week and spending no more than 30 per cent of one’s income on housing. In other words, the rental wage is how much people need to earn to pay rent without spending too much of their income on it.

The rental wage is considerably higher than minimum wage in every single province. Even in the three provinces with the highest minimum wage in Canada—B.C., Ontario, and Alberta—there’s a shortfall in what minimum-wage workers earn and the rent they have to pay, on average.

In practice, this means that the higher minimum wages in these provinces don’t directly translate into better living conditions because landlords capture a larger share of those wages through high rents. The wage increases that people fought so hard for should improve the material conditions of working families, not go back into the pockets of the property-owning class.

When we look at Canadian cities (CMAs), the story is equally stark: the one-bedroom rental wage is lower than the minimum wage in only three CMAs. All are in Québec: Sherbrooke, Trois-Rivières, and Saguenay. Even there, rental affordability is on the decline. Every other CMA in Canada has average rents that far exceed what workers earn on the minimum wage.