Minimum wage vs. living wage: How Ontario’s cities stack up

By Aaron Broverman - Published on November 13, 2015
broken piggy bank
Many Ontarians earning minimum wage must take second jobs or turn to government funds to round out a living wage income.

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What’s the difference between a living and minimum wage? Minimum wage is set by law, and can fall short of what a worker needs for basic quality of life. A living wage, often calculated by think tanks and non-profits, examines the actual costs of what it takes to pay for housing, get around and for families to raise children in a certain place. While a living wage usually doesn’t include important life expenses such as education, retirement savings, legal fees and insurance, it more accurately reflects what living in a particular community will cost.

Ontario’s minimum wage of $11.25 is not considered a living wage in many cities, and can often result in individuals and families turning to additional jobs or government programs to round out income. Here, TVO.org lays out living wages and major expenses across seven Ontario cities.

Toronto

Living wage: $18.52

Housing

Average rent for a one-bedroom apartment: $1,085

Average rent for a two-bedroom apartment:  $1,269

Average home sale price: $630,876

Transportation

Monthly transit pass: $141.50

Gas: $0.985 to $1.099 per litre

Other Monthly Costs

Hydro estimate for residential home on time-of-use pricing @ 800 kWh/month: $147.51

Hydro estimate for multi-unit home on time-of-use pricing @ 334 kWh/month: $74.15

Monthly toddler daycare: $1,324

Sudbury

Living wage: $16.18

Housing

Average rent for a one-bedroom apartment: $804

Average rent for a two-bedroom apartment: $986

Average home sale price: $241,083

Transportation

Monthly transit pass: $82

Gas:  $1.069 to $1.099 per litre

Other Monthly Costs

Hydro estimate for residential home on time-of-use pricing @ 800 kWh/month: $139.22

Hydro estimate for multi-unit home on time-of-use pricing @ 334 kWh/month: $68.57

Monthly toddler daycare: $750

Windsor

Living wage: $14.15

Housing

Average rent for a one-bedroom apartment: $676

Average rent for a two-bedroom apartment: $815

Average home sale price: $196,194

Transportation

Monthly transit pass: $87

Gas: $0.946 to $1.03 per litre

Other Monthly Costs

Hydro estimate for residential home on time-of-use pricing @ 800 kWh/month: $ 136.24

Hydro estimate for multi-unit home on time-of-use pricing @ 334 kWh/month: $64.20

Monthly toddler daycare: $846

Where living wages have been implemented, studies show productivity improves and there's a significant reduction in training costs and worker absenteeism. The local economy is also helped as employees who earn more spend more in the community. —The Hamilton Spectator

Thunder Bay

Living wage: $16.50 (Thunder Bay)

Housing

Average rent for a one-bedroom apartment: $743

Average rent for a two-bedroom apartment: $895

Average home sale price: $172,047

Transportation

Monthly transit pass: $75.50

Other Monthly Costs

Gas: $1.029 to $1.249 per litre

Hydro estimate for residential home on time-of-use pricing @ 800 kWh/month: $ 133.71

Hydro estimate for multi-unit home on time-of-use pricing @ 334 kWh/month: $64.13  

Monthly toddler daycare: $965, at a city-operated child care centre.

Hamilton

Living wage:  $14.95

Housing

Average rent for a one-bedroom apartment: $810

Average rent for a two-bedroom apartment: $998

Average home sale price: $435,581

Transportation

Monthly transit pass: $94.60 

Gas: $0.996 to $1.049 per litre

Other Monthly Costs

Hydro estimate for residential home on time-of-use pricing @ 800 kWh/month: $143.12

Hydro estimate for multi-unit home on time-of-use pricing @ 334 kWh/month: $70.16

Monthly toddler daycare: $880

Paying a living wage results in healthier communities where individuals and families have the resources to fully participate in community life. The living wage is different from community to community as it is based on the cost of living.    — Canadian Centre for Policy Alternatives

Guelph

Living wage: $16.50 (Guelph)

Housing

Average rent for a one-bedroom apartment: $878

Average rent for a two-bedroom apartment: $994

Average home sale price $371,440

Transportation

Monthly transit pass: $75

Gas: $0.959 to $1.039 per litre

Other Monthly Costs

Hydro estimate for residential home on time-of-use pricing @ 800 kWh/month: $144.41

Hydro estimate for multi-unit home on time-of-use pricing @ 334 kWh/month: $69.91

Monthly toddler daycare: $880 at YCMCA

Waterloo Region

Living wage: $16.05

Housing

Average rent for a one-bedroom apartment $821

Average rent for a two-bedroom apartment $969

Average home sale price: $363,048

Transportation

Monthly transit pass: $79

Gas: $0.996 to $1.029 per litre

Other Monthly Costs

Hydro estimate for residential home on time-of-use pricing @ 800 kWh/month: $143.19

Hydro estimate for multi-unit home on time-of-use pricing @ 334 kWh/month: $70.65

Monthly toddler daycare:  $840

Source note: Average rent as calculated by Canada Mortgage Housing Corporation. Average home sale prices as calculated by Canadian Real Estate Association. Gas price ranges as of November 12, 2015. Hydro prices are estimates calculated via the Ontario Energy Board’s Electricity Bill Calculator. Toddler daycare a median city-wide cost as calculated by the Canadian Centre for Policy Alternatives, except where indicated.

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