Study suggests minimum wage earners can’t ‘thrive’ in Toronto

Click to play video 'The cost of ‘thriving’ in Toronto' The cost of ‘thriving’ in Toronto
Making ends meet is tough enough for many in the GTA, thriving is even harder to achieve. Caryn Lieberman reports on a study describing what is needed for people in Toronto to do more than just survive – Oct 3, 2017

What does it cost to live a healthy life? That question is the basis for a study released by the Wellesley Institute, a Toronto-based non-profit research and policy think tank.

To begin to answer that, one would need to understand how the researchers define the term “thriving.”

“A standard of living that goes beyond survival or scraping by,” one of the study’s researchers Nishi Kumar said, adding.

“When I think about thriving in the way it’s reflected in this report, is that it’s about achieving good health and that goes beyond physical health to take into account mental health and social wellbeing.”

LISTEN: Financial expert Rubina Ahmed-Haq joins AM640 to discuss the study. 

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The study, “Thriving in the City: What does it cost to live a health life?” suggests people in the Greater Toronto Area need more than double what they earn on minimum wage in order to thrive.

The cost associated with thriving that the researchers came up with is somewhere between $46,186 and $55,432 after tax for a single person age 25-40 to live the good life.

READ MORE: $15 minimum wage could cost Ontario economy up to 90,000 jobs by 2020: TD Bank report

That is well above the income level for a current Ontario minimum wage worker, which amounts to about $20,000 after taxes. Even a future minimum wage worker earning $15 per hour would still fall short.

“Folks who are living on the minimum wage in Toronto with our current social safety net I think necessarily they would need to be making some trade offs that may affect their health,” Kumar said.

READ MORE: Ontario business coalition urges five-year implementation of minimum wage hike

The study suggests individuals, employers and governments need to work together to close the gap between what GTA residents are earning and what it needed for them to thrive in society.

For people living in the GTA, how they are going to progress in their careers is top of mind so the researcher suggests work-related support would go a long way.

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“Folks said, ‘In order to thrive I need access to training, I need access to networking opportunities, I need to be able to move up the career ladder,” Kumar said.

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