$22/hr is average wage needed to afford a two-bedroom apartment in Canada: report

The average cost of renting a two-bedroom apartment in Canada

If you earn minimum wage and live in Vancouver, you would need to work 112 hours a week to afford a decent two-bedroom apartment, a new study says.

According to a new Canadian Centre for Policy Alternatives report, minimum wage earners in most major cities would need to work much longer hours in order to rent an average two-bedroom unit. 

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“The rental wage across the country is $22 an hour for a two-bedroom or $20 an hour for a one-bedroom,” report author and economist David Macdonald said Wednesday.

“But it’s much more in big cities like Vancouver and Toronto.” 

The report calculates rental wages by breaking down the hourly wage that full-time minimum wage workers would need to earn in order to afford rent for an average one- or two-bedroom apartment without spending more than 30 per cent of their earnings. 

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It also calculates how many hours minimum wage earners would need to work to afford an average apartment. 

Minimum wage workers in Vancouver would need to make the highest rental wage — $35.43 an hour — to afford a two-bedroom apartment. In Toronto, that is pegged at $33.70 an hour. The report covers 795 neighbourhoods across Canada and finds that 31 of the 36 Canadian cities included in the report don’t have a single neighbourhood where a minimum wage earner could afford a two-bedroom apartment. 

It’s actually true in almost all the big cities in Canada that even at the neighborhood level, you can’t find a one- or two-bedroom apartment being affordable for a minimum wage worker,” Macdonald said. 

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The report uses rental data from the Canada Mortgage and Housing Corporation (CMHC). 

According to the report, increasing housing costs impact one-third of all Canadians. And since minimum wages across provinces are less than the rental wages in the report, more minimum wage earners are spending 30 per cent or more of their income on housing. The report’s findings can be explored province by province here.

“It’s very difficult for someone working at or near minimum wage to find a decent place to live,” Macdonald said.

“I mean, we’re not talking about the Ritz here, we’re just talking about a one- or two-bedroom apartment.”

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Here is the report’s breakdown of the hourly rental wage necessary for a two-bedroom apartment in some cities across Canada, based on minimum wages from October 2018:


Vancouver skyline

Vancouver skyline

REUTERS/Jason Lee/File Photo

A minimum wage of $12.65 an hour means a 112-hour work week to afford a two-bedroom apartment.


Toronto skyline

Toronto skyline

REUTERS/Mark Blinch/File Photo

At $14 an hour, minimum wage workers here would need to put in 79 hours for a one-bedroom apartment or 96 hours for a two-bedroom unit.


Downtown Calgary

Downtown Calgary

Artur Widak/NurPhoto via Getty Images and

WATCH: A minimum wage of $15 an hour means workers would need 72 hours in a week to rent a two-bedroom or 56 hours a week for a one-bedroom apartment.


At $11.55 an hour, minimum wage workers could rent an average two-bedroom on a 78-hour workweek.


Sherbrooke, Que.

Sherbrooke, Que.

Wikimedia Commons user Philip Bastarache

At $12 an hour, minimum wage workers here would have to work 41 hours a week for a two-bedroom apartment.

© 2019 Global News, a division of Corus Entertainment Inc.

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