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Parents must both make $18.52 per hour to afford life in Toronto: report

A family of four in Toronto needs an annual income of just over $72,000 pre-tax to make ends meet, according to a new report. Craig Wadman/Global News

TORONTO — Survival in the big city for a family of four boils down to $18.52 an hour.

For a family with two kids under the age of 10 in Toronto, both parents need to be working 37.5 hours per week making $18.52 per hour, according to a report released by the Canadian Centre for Policy Alternatives. That’s an annual household income of just over $72,000, before tax and other deductions.

The report “Making Ends Meet” highlights how hard it is for many families to do just that. The last time Toronto’s living wage was calculated was 2008, at $16.60. Since then, the report lists the cost of child care has risen by 30 per cent, rent by 13 per cent, and public transit costs have shot up by more than a third, at an increase of 36 per cent.

“The updated Toronto living wage calculation is rooted in real life necessities and responsibilities,” the report states. The living wage calculation is based on necessary expenses for a family to meet its basic needs, “and purchase items that can help them escape marginal subsistence. The list of family expenses contains no extravagances.”

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The calculation does not leave any extra funds left over to save for post-secondary education. The calculation does not factor in any debt-repayment obligations. It calculates rent, transportation, child care costs, food, clothing, internet and laundry for a family of four.

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Government assistance such as child care benefits and the Working Income Tax Benefit are included in the income equation.

“The next step is to calculate the employment income this family needs in order to meet both family expenditures and pay taxes as well as payroll deductions,” states the report.

Ontario’s minimum wage is $11.00 per hour. That number will go up by $0.25 October 1st. So far this year TTC rates have gone up by $8 for a monthly pass, to $141.50, and the price for a token rose by a dime to $2.80. However, children aged 12 and under now ride free.

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The average cost of a detached home in the GTA has officially surpassed $1 million. Overcrowding plagues many of the city’s low-income rental properties; data from the 2011 National Household Survey showed nearly 1 in 5 rented Toronto households have overcrowded conditions. RentBoard.ca lists the average price of 3-bedroom apartment in Toronto at $1,592. The report’s allotted amount for housing was a more modest $1,185 per month.

The report states a living wage “sets an expectation that work should provide enough to meet basic material and immaterial needs,” while the minimum wage “sets a wage floor below which employers cannot pay.”

It states the legislated minimum wage does not “take into account the material needs of a healthy, sustainable life,” while the living wage figure is “reflective of the basic necessities of life.”

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