Minimum wage earners struggle to pay rent in Ottawa

Daniel Fowler
July 19, 2019

With the city's average minimum wage being $12.65 an hour, you will need to find a job that pays $19.29 hourly for a one-bedroom place and $23.08 an hour for a two-bedroom apartment. The report covers 795 urban areas across Canada and finds that 31 of the 36 canadian cities included in the report, there was no area where an employee receiving the minimum wage could rent an apartment with two bedrooms.

Importantly, because all provincial minimum wages are far lower than these average rental wages, it is not possible for many full-time workers to afford to live anywhere without spending more than 30% of their income on rent.

In Toronto, for example, a person needs to make $33.70/h to afford an average two-bedroom - or work 96 hours a week at the provincial minimum wage rate.

Roughly one-third of households, or 4.7 million, are renters and they're in most cases low-income earners, or young adults, or newbies to Canada.

There are zero one-bedroom or two-bedroom rental apartments in Kelowna that are affordable for workers earning the minimum wage, a damning new report has found.

The rental wage neighbourhood maps in this report and the accompanying online database show a common reality known to all renters, which is that it is more expensive to live downtown - close to most jobs - than in outlying areas that necessitate longer commutes and often the purchase of a auto.

That figure falls to 3% when looking at two-bedroom apartments.

For two-bedroom units, which the report identifies as "the most common type", Macdonald notes that minimum wage workers are "shut out" in Montreal.

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The study looked at 795 neighbourhoods across the country.

Renting in Vancouver is unaffordable for anyone earning less than $26.72 per hour, according to new number crunching, making the city the least affordable in the country for non-home owners.

In eastern Ontario, Kingston claims the prize for the single-costliest neighbourhood: the central Sydenham district, where you'll need to earn $32.58 per hour to afford an apartment.

"The challenge, of course, is because we haven't really been building purpose-built rental or traditional apartment buildings since the 1990s, we've got a lot of catching up to do", he says. Between 1983 and 1993, 49% of all new rental builds were affordable housing units paid for with public money. These programs jointly promise to deliver more than 110,500 new units by 2027-28.

Its design is to be tailored to each province.

The federal government is facing new questions about how much its plans for a rent-supplement program for low-income households will help them afford high rents, detailed in a new study and newly obtained government documents detailing the affordability crunch. In the long term, rental subsidies are no substitute for the construction of new affordable housing, which would increase vacancy rates, cool rental prices and allow more people to live closer to where they work.

As part of its analysis, the CCPA used minimum wages from October to match the release date of rental market data from the Canada Mortgage and Housing Corp.

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