A new study shows that rental costs across Canada are drastically higher than minimum wage salaries.

The Canadian Center for Policy Alternatives released a study on Tuesday that compared the gap between the minimum wage and apartment rental costs across the country in 2022.

The study calculated a hourly wages necessary to afford rent, allocating 30 per cent or less of income earned toward rent while working 40 hours a week, referring to that figure as the “rental wage.” \

“The rental wage is considerably higher than minimum wage in every single province. Even in the three provinces with the highest minimum wage in Canada—B.C., Ontario, and Alberta—there’s a shortfall in what minimum-wage workers earn and the rent they have to pay, on average,” the study said. 

Toronto and Vancouver were listed as the cities with the largest gap between the minimum wage and rental costs. 

“Vancouver and Toronto are the worst culprits: even two full-time minimum wage workers cannot afford a one-bedroom unit without spending more than 30 per cent of their combined income on housing,” the study said. 

In Toronto, the study found that the “rental wage” required to rent a one-bedroom apartment would be $33.62 per hour, while a $40.03 wage would be needed for a two-bedroom apartment.

In Vancouver, the study found the hourly rental wage needed for a one-bedroom rental would be $32.36 and $42.6 would be required for a two-bedroom apartment. 

“The discrepancy between the rental and minimum wage is such that, in most Canadian cities, minimum-wage earners are extremely unlikely to escape core housing need,” the study said. 

“They are likely spending too much on rent, living in units that are too small, or, in many cases, both.” 

The gap in wages and rental costs is not entire due to supply and demand dynamics, the study said.

Instead, the study’s authors outlined three factors that bring rental costs higher than wages. The factors include wage suppression policies, low supplies of rental housing including rent-controlled units, as well as “poorly regulated” markets that facilitate “profit-making over housing security.” 

“In other words, the mess in which we find ourselves is due to bosses keeping wages down with help from provincial governments that set the minimum wage and federal governments that control monetary policy,” the study said. 

“It’s also due to governments’ collective failure to build, finance, and acquire the right kinds of rental housing, which is compounded by landlords who use their political influence to weaken rental market regulations, allowing them to increase rents and profit margins.”  


The report authors said rental wage calculations took inspiration from the National Low Income Housing Coalition’s yearly Out of Reach study that examines affordable housing in the U.S. The retinal wage is an estimated amount of money that would allow workers to rent an apartment while spending 30 per cent less of their pre-tax income on rent. The rental wage assumes a work schedule of 40 hours per week and 52 weeks a year.