Toronto’s living wage: It’s more than just a number; it’s about a better standard of living

 “I won’t have to work an extra job so we can make ends meet.”

– Jayna Vasanjee, employee at DUCA Credit Union who just got a raise because her employer has decided to pay a living wage.

You can explore how our working group calculated Toronto’s living wage by downloading the Canadian Centre for Policy Alteranatives’ Ontario office report here.

Click here to read the report.
Click here to read the report.

DUCA Credit Union joins a growing number of Ontario businesses that choose to pay a living wage. In Toronto, that means paying $18.52 an hour – far higher than the provincially mandated $11 minimum wage.

The minimum wage, set at the provincial level, is an important part of employment standards in Ontario. It’s the law. No employer can pay anyone less than the minimum wage. It’s no secret that you can work full-time, earning the minimum wage, and still have to tolerate and existence in poverty, especially in Toronto.

A living wage is different from the legally mandated provincial minimum wage: it is a reflection of what it actually takes to raise a family consisting of two working parents and two children in any given community.

There’s rent, one of the biggest expenses any Toronto family faces. We’ve calculated in the cost of a two-bedroom apartment, though parents know that three bedrooms would be ideal.

Then there’s child care. While the city offers subsidized quality child care to lower-income families, there are more than 20,000 children on the wait list. In the absence of enough affordable, regulated, public child care options in Toronto, the next cheapest option is home-based child care, which is not always parents’ first choice.

That cheaper child care option still costs our composite family, consisting of a three-year-old and a seven-year-old, $16,999.45 a year – more than the cost of rent.

Working parents have to get to work, and there are other non-negotiables like groceries, clothing and footwear, laundry, and hydro. Add tenant insurance, basic household items and furniture, a cell phone, the internet, recreation, school supplies and fees, and a modest family vacation (a camping trip and a staycation week) and the cost of living in Toronto adds u in a hurry.

When you factor in all of these basic needs, two working parents each need to work full-time, year-round and earn $18.52 an hour in order to make a living wage in Toronto.

This website is an ongoing resource for the growing Living Wage movement in Ontario. The Canadian Centre for Policy Alternatives’ Ontario office conducts research and analysis on many provincial issues, but we are uniquely proud of our place on the ground floor, feeding the living wage movement with the tools and data to move the discussion about wages into the 21st century.

Read the report here.

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 If you work for a living, you should get a living wage.

Sure, provincial governments legislate a minimum wage. But it doesn’t pay enough to help someone working full-time, year-round pay the basic bills.

Employers have another option: they could pay a living wage.

A living wage looks at what it takes for workers to afford the basics. Nothing extravagant. Just things like rent, bus fare, child care, food.

Go to CCPA Ontario Working For A Living project to listen to one of 30 arguments for better pay.