Affording Toronto: Living wage on the rise

Apr 10, 2015 | News

Toronto Skyline (Wikipedia)

Toronto Skyline (Wikipedia)

By Jessica Richard

A new report released Friday about Toronto’s living wage said that couples with children need to make at least $18.52 an hour each working full-time to get by.

It has been six years since Toronto’s living wage estimate was calculated at $16.60 in 2008,” economist Kaylie Tiessen wrote in her report.

The report breaks down the cost of living for an average four person family living in the city to determine how much money needs to be earned to make ends meet.

Tiessen said they used bare minimum amounts for item costs, and that most families would have to spend more than what the report shows.

For example, the cost of shelter was based on a two bedroom apartment for a four person family, when a four person family might actually opt for a three bedroom apartment.

“It has been six years since Toronto’s living wage estimate was calculated at $16.60 in 2008” – Tiessen

The decision to use a two bedroom apartment was not made lightly by the group, said the report. There were lengthy discussions about the expectation that two children would share a room.

“Opting for a three-bedroom apartment increases the living wage calculation by more than $1 per hour,” said the report.

The cost of rent is based on The Canadian Mortgage and Housing Corporation’s Fall 2014 Rental Market Report for Ontario, and the cost of utilities was estimated using the average monthly energy usage of a unit in an apartment building.

The cost of tenant insurance is based on the lowest quote available from insurance company Kanetix, for a replacement value of $40,000 (minimum requirement) and a deductible of $500.

The amount spent on household furnishings comes from Statistics Canada’s 2013 Survey of Household Spending, it includes the cost of furniture, rugs and mats, textiles and linens.

Some of the main topics that were talked about in the report are: shelter, food, childcare, and family recreation.


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Toronto’s living wage calculation includes the cost of healthy food. This is based on two adults each 35-years-old, one seven-year-old child and one three-year-old child.


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The city of Toronto has the highest cost of childcare in Canada making it the most costly item in the report for a family with two small children.

These numbers are based on less expensive home-based care. The average annual cost for centre-based daycare is $27,400, meaning the family would need to make over an additional $10,000 per year, adding $4.35 per hour to the living wage.
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The living wage report also includes money spent for recreation and family outings.

It said that this amount is not a luxurious estimate and that recreation is an important part of a healthy, vibrant life.

“The City of Toronto also offers many free recreational activities and a multitude of green space where residents can enjoy the outdoors and participate in community life,” said the report.

“That said, there are many recreational activities that this living wage calculation does not reflect, including children’s participation in sports or owning a bicycle, illustrating just how minimal a living wage calculation is.”


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