Living Wage Series - Canada - September 2019 - In Canadian Dollar, per Month

The Living Wage is based on the concept that work should provide an adequate income to cover the necessary living costs of a family. WageIndicator uses prices from the Cost of Living Survey to calculate Living Wage in more than 70 countries. The Living Wage is an approximate income needed to meet a family’s basic needs including food, housing, transport, health, education, tax deductions and other necessities.

The following table summarises the varying expenditure and income needs for the three commonly occurring family household compositions.

Expenditure and Living Wage calculation (monthly rates in CAD)

  Typical family Standard family Single-adult
  from-to from-to from-to
Food expenses 1090-1310 1210-1450 300-365
Housing expenses 1660-2000 1660-2000 1040-1230
Transport expenses 190-215 190-215 95-110
Healthcare expenses 110-300 110-300 27-75
Education expenses 105-360 105-360 0
Other expenses 155-210 165-215 73-89
Total Expenditure 3310-4395 3440-4540 1536-1869
Net Living Wage 1947-2585 1911-2522 1536-1869
Gross Living Wage 2280-3030 2240-2950 1800-2190

Note: For more details see Living Wage FAQ.


Family Living Wages (monthly rates in CAD)

There is not a single answer to what is the adequate cost of living. The result is complex, as the cost of living varies by household composition, location, and employment pattern. The following table presents the Living Wage estimates for a set of most common family household compositions and under different assumptions about working hours.

Typical family (two parents + 1.6 children, 1.7 working) 2280-3030
Standard family (two parents + 2 children, 1.8 working) 2240-2950
Two parents and two children, 2 working 2010-2660
Two parents and two children, 1.5 working 2690-3540
Two parents and two children, 1 working 4030-5310
Two parents and three children, 1.7 working 2590-3400
Two parents and four children, 1.7 working 2800-3650
Single-adult without children, 1 working 1800-2190

Note: Results in the table are rounded.


Living Wages in Context (monthly rates in CAD)

The Minimum Wage is a national legally binding obligation on employers which often make no reference to a living standard. Living Wage describes the adequate living standard. The common goal of the many living wage campaigns currently taking place all over the world is to lift Minimum Wages levels to those of the Living Wages. WageIndicator presents Living Wages jointly with Minimum Wages, aiming to raise awareness concerning the remaining differences in levels. Living Wages are presented in context with other wage indicators including prevailing wages of workers over recent years.

  2016 2017 2018 2019
Minimum wage 1764 1861 1948 2078
Living Wage - Single Adult 1610-1940 1610-1900 1660-2020 1800-2190
Living Wage - Typical Family 2150-2900 2100-2780 2150-2860 2280-3030
Real wage of low-skilled worker - - - -
Real wage of medium-skilled worker - - - -
Real wage of high-skilled worker - - - -

Note: Table shows the lowest monthly Minimum Wage in a country, when available. Reported monthly earnings of workers in low-, medium-, and high-skilled occupations are obtained from the voluntary WageIndicator web survey on work and wages. Results in the table are rounded.


Food basket and food prices in CAD

The food expenditure is the main component of Living Wage and it is determined by the price of food basket. The food prices are taken from WageIndicator Cost of Living Survey which collects the actual prices of all items necessary to calculate the Living Wage. The composition of the food basket is taken from the national food balance sheets published by the UN Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO). The food basket is scaled to 2,100 calories per person per day that is the nutritional requirement for good health proposed by World Bank (Handbook on poverty and inequality, 2009).

Food item Grams per day Energy (kcal) Price per kilo
Wheat, barley and cereals products 284 781 -
Rice 69 270 3.3-5
Meat (beef, pork, poultry) 502 711 10-14
Oils (soyabean, olive, palm) 42 344 -
Sugar (Raw Equivalent) 55 206 4-4
Maize and products 32 70 -
Milk - Excluding Butter 608 228 1.3-2
Vegetables, Other 443 122 2-2.7
Potatoes and products 121 71 1.6-2.2
Butter, Ghee 14 110 10-10
Groundnuts (Shelled Eq) 16 58 9-9
Pulses, Other and products 16 57 -
Cassava and products 1 1 4-4
Egg (price per 10 eggs) 22 30 28-30
Sunflowerseed Oil 1 8 -
Fish products 73 44 -
Beer (0.5 liter/pint) 98 41 4-4
Sweeteners, Other 26 59 -
Beans 2 6 -
Sweet potatoes 2 2 4-4
Bananas 83 50 1.6-2
Soyabeans 2 5 -
Yams 1 1 -
Apples and products 69 32 3-4
Tomatoes and products 60 13 3-4
Onions 49 16 2-2.9
Oranges, Mandarines 238 38 3.5-5
Plantains 1 1 3-3
Peas 3 9 -
Roots, Other 0 1 4-4
Seeds and kernels 2 12 6-6
Wine (bottle) 37 25 -
Pineapples and products 16 6 -
Cream 17 32 9-12
Olives (including preserved) 1 2 5-5
Honey 1 4 -
Citrus, Other 2 1 5-5
Lemons, Limes and products 9 1 4-4
Tea (including mate) 1 0 15-15
Grapefruit and products 3 1 5-5
Coffee and products 13 6 15-15


WageIndicator Living Wage background:

The WageIndicator Living Wage is set to provide acceptable living standard to a family of a particular size. WageIndicator presents Living Wages for several household types and working hours which reflect the most frequently found real situations in which people have to make a living: 1. Typical family Living Wage is a baseline estimate that respects the country specific conditions. Typical family is comprised of two adults and the number of children is given by country specific fertility rate (the average number of children a woman is expected to have during her lifespan). One adult is working full-time and the working hours of second adult are approximated by national employment rate. The total income earned by two adults paid living wage is sufficient to reach adequate living standard. 2. Standard family Living Wage is estimated for a family composed of two adults and two children (referred to as family 2+2). Living wage is calculated under different assumptions about working hours. These include that both adults work full-time (family employment rate is 2), or at least one adult works part-time or half-time (family employment rate is 1.8 and 1.5), or one adult does not work at all (i.e. patriarchal model with family employment 1). Alternatives refer to trade-offs between leisure and work and define what living wage represents. In every case the total income earned by two adults paid living wage is sufficient to reach adequate living standard. 3. Extended family Living Wage includes family with three or four children. One adult works full-time and the work intensity of second parent is approximated by national employment rate. 4. Individual Living Wage represents an acceptable standard of living for a single individual working full-time.

Data sources: WageIndicator Cost of Living Survey, World Bank Databank Fertility rate 2010-2014, ILO Estimated participation rate in 2017, FAO Food balance sheet in 2013.

WageIndicator useful links:

Publication Guzi, M., & Kahanec, M. (2019). Estimating Living Wage Globally. Amsterdam, WageIndicator Foundation
WageIndicator Wages in Context Map with the latest updates
All You Always wanted to Know about Living Wages