Can you survive with minimum wage in Canada?

For all the good things about Canada, one of the major issues with living in the country is the high cost of living. So, can you survive on minimum wage in Canada?

The minimum wage varies. It ranges from as low as $10.80 in Quebec to as high as $16.50 in Ontario. It’s easier to survive on minimum wage in Alberta, PEI, Nova Scotia, Quebec, Newfoundland and Labrador, and Northwest Territories. In other places, not living in the major cities makes it possible.

However, living a comfortable life in any province or territory requires earning well above the minimum wage. This article discusses the minimum wages and cost of living in each province.

Cost of Living in Canada

Just like the minimum wage, the cost of living in Canada varies. But the variation isn’t just among provinces. The cost of living varies from city to city. The most expensive cities are Vancouver and Toronto, while other major cities like Montreal and Winnipeg have relatively low living costs. Looking at ten major cities in countries, the average cost of living for a family of 3 is around $3,656. But cost ranges from $5,523 for Toronto to $2,623 for Quebec City.

According to Expatisan, the average monthly cost of living for a family of 4 is $5,382, while a single person will need $2,858. Accommodation usually accounts for a substantial part of this cost, especially in the bigger cities.

Minimum Wages in Canadian Provinces

The minimum wage in Canada is set by provincial and territorial governments and usually changes periodically. Here, we look at the current minimum wages in Canada and whether you can survive on the minimum wage in the province.

1.   Alberta

The minimum wage in Alberta is $15 per hour, making it one of the highest in the country. This has been in effect since October 2018. However, students below 18 have a minimum wage of $13, implemented in June 2019. Since the full-time work hours per week in Canada is 40 hours, a person earning minimum wage in Alberta will be getting $2400 weekly which is below the average amount a single person needs to live a comfortable life in the province. However, there are areas in Alberta where the minimum wage will still be enough to survive.

2.   British Columbia

This is one of the most expensive provinces to live in, and it reflects in its minimum wage, which is $15.20 for all workers. It has been in effect since June 2021, and there are no imminent changes. At this rate, the average monthly minimum wage is $2,432. Apart from the fact that this is lower than the national average cost of living, British Columbia is one of the most expensive provinces in Canada, with cities such as Nanaimo, Vancouver, Victoria, Surrey, etc., all of which have a high cost of living. Thus, surviving on minimum wage may be difficult.

3.   Prince Edward Islands

The minimum wage in PEI has been $13 per hour for all workers since April 2021. There are plans of imminent change by April 2022. With its minimum wage, the monthly income at this rate isn’t up to the average amount that an individual will need to survive in Canada. But the maritime province is relatively one of the cheapest places one can live in the country. So, it’s possible to survive on minimum wage in some parts of the provinces.

4.   Manitoba

Security guards have the highest minimum wage in this province at $12.50 per hour. Other workers earn $11.95 per hour but plan to change this by October 2022. The cost of living here is generally below the national average, but a minimum monthly wage of less than $2,000 means that those earning minimum wage here might have trouble surviving on it.

5.   New Brunswick

Here’s another province planning to change its minimum wage by April 2022. Presently, workers earn a minimum of $11.75 per hour. This is even lower than Manitoba, which means it’s even harder to survive on minimum wage.

6.   Nova Scotia

The minimum hourly rate in the province is $12.95. it’s likely to increase this year with an upcoming change in April 2022. Nova Scotia is probably the most expensive maritime province, which reflects its minimum wage. But that’s far below the average cost of living in Halifax, which is its biggest city. Thus, earning minimum wage here isn’t enough to survive. But there might be less expensive areas in the province where you can survive on minimum wage.

7.   Ontario

The minimum hourly wage in Ontario varies for different classes of workers. For those working from home, it’s $16.50 and will be due for a change in October 2022. General workers and liquor servers have a minimum wage of $15. Students under the age of 18 earn a minimum of $14.10. All the wages will be due for change by October 2022. Given how expensive the province is generally and the higher cost of living in cities such as Toronto, Mississauga, Guelph, Ottawa, etc., being very expensive.

8.   Quebec

General workers in the province have an hourly minimum wage of $13.50. But workers who receive tips get only $10.80 as an hourly rate. Both rates are due for change by May 2022. This is one of the cheapest provinces to live in Canada. So, it’s possible to survive on minimum wage here.

9.   Saskatchewan

For those living in this province, the minimum wage is $11.81. There’s an upcoming change by October 2022, but even with that change, it’s unlikely minimum wage will still be enough to cover the basic cost of living,

10.                Newfoundland and Labrador

The minimum hourly rate here is $12.75, with a planned change for October 2022. Given how expensive its major city, St Johns, the monthly minimum wage might not be enough to survive in the city. But it could be sufficient in other areas.

11.                Northwest Territories

The minimum wage in this region has been $15.20 since September 2021, and there’s no change on the horizon. The cost of living here is around $2,017, which means residents can live comfortably on minimum wage.

12.                Yukon

The hourly minimum wage in Yukon is also $15.20, but this might change soon with plans of an upcoming change in April 2022. Even though Yukon is somewhat expensive, it’s still possible to survive on minimum wage but not comfortably.

13.                Nunavut

The northernmost region of Canada also has the highest minimum wage. Workers here collect at least $16 per hour. But it’s also a very expensive place to live, especially for non-aboriginals. Thus, social circumstances may determine if the minimum wage is enough.

In Conclusion

In order to live a comfortable life in any Canadian province or territory, you need to be earning well above the minimum wage. However, it’s still possible to survive on minimum wage, only that it’ll require a strict lifestyle where you have to cook your food, live in the cheapest neighbourhoods, etc.

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