A minimum-wage worker cannot afford to rent their own apartment in most of Canada, and certainly not in Guelph.
A third of the population in Canada - 4.7 million families - rents a home in Canada and is facing a major affordability crisis according to a report called Unaccomodating by the Canadian Centre of Policy Alternatives (CCPA), a non-profit independent researcher in public policies.
The report examines the scope of the problem by calculating the hourly wage that a worker needs to make to rent an average two-bedroom apartment using 30 per cent or less of their income called the rental wage.
To rent a two-bedroom apartment in Guelph, a worker needs to make:
- $25.52 an hour or work for minimum wage for 73 hours a week in the south end,
- $22.40 an hour or work for minimum wage for 64 hours a week in central Guelph,
- $21.44 an hour or work for minimum wage for 61 hours in the east end,
- $21.81 an hour or work for minimum wage for 62 hours in the west end.
The report's creator, David Macdonald said Guelph ranks number 16 in high rental prices out of the 36 big cities in Canada available in the report.
“So it’s essentially mid-range with someone needing to work at $22/hr to afford the average two-bedroom or $20/hr for one bedroom. Quite similar to the national average in fact. It's more expensive than say London or St. Catharines, but less expensive than say, Barrie, Kitchener-Waterloo or Kelowna, B.C,” said Macdonald.
Despite being similar to the national average, Macdonald said in none of Guelph’s four neighbourhoods can a full-time minimum wage worker afford the average one-bedroom apartment, and much less a two-bedroom apartment which is what the study focused on.
The report states that the high costs of housing have caused many millennials to search for rental units and a rise in rental prices has made it a real difficulty for renters.
“We were really surprised as an organization to see the affordable renting crisis is in Canada,” said media and public relations officer, Alyssa O'Dell.
“Unless we really get active on the public policy side and making some changes federally and provincially to make sure there's just more affordable housing being built, we’re gonna see more and more skyrocketing rents,” said O’Dell.
She said it is going to continue to get harder for people who are earning lower wages and fixed income such as seniors and millennials who are trying to get out of their parents' homes’.
“It's putting a crunch on all of those people and unless we find a way just to change that and reverse it, its gonna be harder and harder for people to be able to afford to live,” said O’Dell.
“Essentially that means that if we don't reverse this trend, people are going to continue to have to make choices between affording a roof over their head and basic life necessities and so that's something we don't want to see happen to people.”