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Housing a Generation of Essential Workers: The Cost of Inaction

Toronto’s high housing costs have forced employers to pay higher wages, but employers who cannot afford higher labour costs are struggling to survive.

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Toronto’s unaffordable housing market forces employers to pay workers a wage premium to compensate for a higher local cost of living.

When employers can’t pay that premium, they see higher staff turnover and recruitment costs. In response to this challenge, some employers relocate to areas where cheaper housing allows them to pay their workers lower wages, reducing labour costs. In practice, that means employers leaving the Toronto area.

Some employers – notably in education, health care and community services – cannot relocate but struggle to pay their workers sufficiently high wages. Their employees are often unable to afford to live near where they work and are therefore forced to make long, punishing commutes which impede their productivity.

To solve this problem, housing affordability must be urgently addressed. Otherwise, Toronto will experience reduced service levels in some sectors, which will disproportionately harm the elderly and other vulnerable populations, especially those in need of caregiving support.

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Learn more about how housing unaffordability inflates labour costs and what can be done to fix that.
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