You need to make more than $20 per hour to live comfortably in Hamilton


Published November 6, 2023 at 3:02 pm

cost of living up 9% in hamilton 20.80

If you live in Hamilton, you need to be making at least $20.80 to be able to cover the typical cost of living expenses. 

According to a recent report by the Ontario Living Wage Network (OLWN), Hamilton is in the middle of the pack in terms of 2023 living wage rates in Ontario cities. Other areas that require a higher living wage include the GTA ($25.05), Grey Bruce Perth Huron Simcoe ($22.75), Ottawa ($21.95) and Dufferin Waterlook Guelph-Wellington ($20.90).

Not unexpectedly, the report says that food and rental inflation are driving up living wage rates, with Ottawa feeling the most significant impact with the living wage rate climbing 12 per cent.

In Hamilton, the living wage rate is up 9.2 per cent from last year, with 2022’s wage rate sitting at $19.05. 

In the report, the OLWN says it encourages employers to offer wages that help lower-income residents live more comfortably in their cities.

“The work of the Ontario Living Wage Network centres on one core goal: the elimination of working poverty. By calculating the local living wage rates and encouraging employers to pay it, we have created a simple and expedient way to bring up wages for workers in a wide variety of sectors,” the report reads.

The report says the minimum wage increased by 6.8 per cent to $16.55 in October–a rate still below the minimum residents need to get by.

In order to come up with its calculations, the OLWN factors in shelter, food, transportation and other expenses, including modest vacations and cultural and community experiences. 

The report also breaks down living wage rates for families and single residents, as single residents are not entitled to the Canada Child Benefit, a monthly benefit cheque from the federal government sent out to families with one or more children that was introduced in 2016. 

According to the report, OLWN analyzes costs for three types of households: two parents aged 35 and two children aged 7 and 3, a single parent with a child aged 7, and a single adult. 

The living wage rate is the before-tax income that each adult would need to cover the expenses included in the “basket” for their family type. The calculation considers government transfers the family may receive and the payroll and income taxes the adults may pay.

In Hamilton, a family of four is projected to spend $11,701 annually on food, while a single family parent is expected to spend about $6,187 and a single person about $4,786. In terms of shelter, the report suggests a family of four in the city is spending $27,045 a year, while a single-parent family is spending $21,940 and an individual is spending $18,693. 

For clothing, Ontario families are spending about $4,713 if they have four members. Single-parent families spend about $2,667 and individuals about $761.

For transportation (which may include both a car and public transit), families of four in Hamilton can expect to spend $9,330 a year. Single-parent families could spend up to $7,424 and individuals could spend $1,906. 

The wage calculations also factor in adult education (one course with textbooks costs about $522), medical expenses, illness and insurance ($195-$285), internet and cell phone costs ($475 for cell phone and $1,140 for internet in Hamilton), childcare (anywhere from $6,386 to $11,978 in Hamilton) and other expenses such as personal care items ($3,956 to $10,487 in Hamilton). 

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