What is a Renters Wage

High housing costs affect renters as much as they do homeowners.  But in most Canadian cities, there are only 9% of neighbourhoods that make it possible for a minimum wage single income worker to afford a one or two bedroom unit without using more than 30% of their income.  Many households rely on one income but have more than one person in the unit relying on the one income.

Nationally in 2020, the rental wage for a full-time worker would need to be $22.40 an hour in order to afford an average priced two bedroom apartment without using more than 30% of their income. The rental housing wage for a one-bedroom apartment is slightly less at $20.20 an hour for a full-time worker.  In the 1990’s the average rental wage for a two bedroom apartment was fairly consistent at just over $17 an hour.  But, like house prices, the rental housing wage has risen sharply with a two bedroom rental housing wage hitting $17.63 an hour in 2001, and now sitting at just over $20 an hour.

In 2020, of the estimated 4.8 million families who will rent their homes, 2.4 million will be considered in core housing need based on the income component of CMHC’s definition.

The five most common occupations; admin assistants, retail salespersons, cashiers, food counter workers and beverage servers represent 1.8 million of Canadian workers or 12% of all jobs.  These jobs  are over-whelmingly low-paid and often part-time. Until the minimum wage for all provinces is pushing $20 per hour and the jobs are full-time, rental costs will remain a burden on these workers. 

In some provinces, like Alberta, landlords can increase the rent by any amount they choose if there is no lease or once the lease has ended.  This also effectively allows landlords to evict tenants on a whim.  In other provinces, like Ontario  B.C. and Manitoba, landlords are largely restricted in their increases which provides more certainty and stability to tenants