A family of four living on the island of Montreal requires a household income of just under $62,000 to sustain a viable livelihood, according to a study released Wednesday by the Institut de Recherche et d’Informations Socioéconomiques (IRIS).
The authors of the study calculated that to live with dignity in Quebec, a single person in 2021 needs an annual income ranging between $24,433 and $32,607, depending on the location where they live.
The study defines viable income as the sum available after-tax that allows people to live in dignity outside poverty and with an ability to cope with unforeseen circumstances.
The viable income was calculated for three types of households in seven Quebec municipalities to reflect their different realities.
For a single-parent household with a child attending a childcare centre (CPE), the viable income varies from $36,121 in Trois-Rivières to $44,631 in Sept-Îles. It was set at $39,387 in Quebec and $39,999 in Montreal.
For a household of two adults and two children attending a childcare centre, viable income ranged from $58,514 in Trois-Rivières to $68,387 in Sept-Îles. It is $61,046 in Quebec and $61,884 in Montreal.
For a single person living in Montreal, the viable income is equivalent to nearly 1.3 times the threshold of the Market Basket Measure (MBM), according to IRIS researcher Philippe Hurteau. MBM is a calculation based on the cost of a specific basket of goods and services representing a modest, basic standard of living. It includes the cost of food, clothing, shelter, transportation, and other items for a typical family and assumes a minimum full-time hourly wage of $18.
The IRIS study reports that people 65 years of age and older who have access only to a guaranteed minimum income, people on social assistance, and people who work full time at minimum wage, all fall below the viable income threshold.
Just having a job is not always enough to get out of poverty, as the economy has created a category of working poor, Hurteau said.
In calculating viable income, the researchers noted the importance of affordable public transport services tailored to meet the needs of those looking to reduce household spending. The lack of adequate public transit forces households to purchase a car, which raises the minimum amount of needed household income by $ 6,000 or more, according to the study.
IRIS has also found that people receiving social assistance are a long way from achieving a viable income level. They live with less than half of the basic needs as outlined by the MBM.
The study faults the Quebec government for the discrepancy, noting a commitment made in 2017 to provide those on social assistance with disposable income corresponding to 55.1 per cent of the MBM.
— with files from Global News’ Travis Todd