A new report on the rental market says minimum-wage workers can’t pay monthly rent in most Canadian neighbourhoods, and affordability in Victoria is among the most out of reach.
The study by the Canadian Centre for Policy Alternatives (CCPA) calculates the “rental wage” required to afford an average apartment without spending more than 30 per cent of a person’s earnings.
The report says it would take an average of $28.47-an-hour to afford a two-bedroom rental suite in Victoria, or someone would need to work an average of 90 hours-a-week earning the October 2018 minimum wage rate in B.C. of $12.65/hr.
Minimum wage increased in B.C. to $13.85/hr as of June 1 and is set to increase to $14.60/hr on the same date next year, and then $15.20/hr in 2021.
The report says for a one-bedroom rental in Victoria, the average wage necessary is $21.33 or working 67 hours-a-week for a minimum-wage earner.
“There are no neighborhoods in our biggest cities, Vancouver, Toronto, but also in Victoria where a full time minimum wage worker could afford a modest one bedroom or two bedroom appartment,” said Alex Hemmingway of the Centre.
By neighbourhood, rent in the Rockland area is the highest around the capital requiring an hourly wage of $35.29, with 112 hours at work needed for someone earning minimum wage to afford a two-bedroom rental, which according to the report is the most common type.
The most affordable area to rent on the south coast is West Shore and Sooke with a required hourly wage of $17.64, but is still higher than the minimum wage and requires a low-income employee to work 56 hours-a-week to pay for a two-bedroom apartment.
The report shows its much worse in some areas of Vancouver, saying someone in the North False Creek neighbourhood would need $60.93/hr to afford a two-bedroom rental, or work 193 hours-a-week at minimum wage.
That’s 25 more hours than the actual 168 hours available over a seven-day period.
The report says there are no neighbourhoods in either the Greater Toronto Area or Metro Vancouver that a full-time minimum wage worker could afford either a modest one-or two-bedroom apartment.
The average wage needed to afford a two-bedroom apartment across Canada is $22.40/hr, or $20.20/hr for a one-bedroom suite.
Vanessa Ellis has had her rental sold, and is now facing the difficult situation.
“for now I am going to have to look for something cheaper maybe downsize to make it affordable for my family,” said Ellis.
The Together Against Poverty Society says they believe the numbers are a conservative estimate.
“Almost every client who walks through our door, would not meet the income threshold, that the CCPA report would set out as the minimum amount you would need to make,” said Isabelle Dehler-hyde, from TAPS.
Of the 795 neighbourhoods in Canada, only 24 or three per cent were considered affordable for full-time minimum wage workers to rent a two-bedroom apartment.
Saguenay and Trois-Rivieres, Quebec, where the minimum wage was $12/h last October, were the only cities where the required wage to afford either a one-or-two-bedroom apartment was less than the provincial minimum wage rate.
Full-time minimum wage earners could afford a one-bedroom rental in Sherbrooke, QC, but had to work an extra hour a week to be able to pay for a two-bedroom apartment.
The CCPA says one in four Canadians earns within three-dollars of their province’s minimum wage.