L'Institut de recherche et d’informations socioéconomiques (IRIS) has released its annual assessment of the cost of living in Quebec, calculating the income needed to live out of poverty in cities across the province — a level it defines as "sustainable income." According to a statement, "sustainable income indicates the disposable income needed after tax to provide a basket of goods and services allowing to live with dignity and without poverty." This year, the IRIS has come up with three sustainable income levels for each locale: one for single individuals, another for single parents with one child, and a third for couples with two children.

In Montreal, the income needed for a single person to live out of poverty is $27,948.

It increases by more than $10,000 — to $39,099 — for a single parent and rises to $61,009 for a family with two kids.

Of the seven cities surveyed by the IRIS, Saguenay has the lowest sustainable income level: $24,083 for a single person.

At $32,682, Sept-Îles has the highest.

Researchers also considered how the ongoing pandemic has exposed and exacerbated troubling economic situations.

"As we emerge from the current crisis, it will be essential to ask ourselves what income floors we need to consider in order to live well together," writes IRIS researcher Eve-Lyne Couturier.

"Many of those found to be essential still earn less than a sustainable income. By choosing to better pay for attendant care workers, the government is showing that it could do better."

The study further points out that people "receiving basic social assistance, [...] working full time at minimum wage" or who are "entitled only to the old age security pension and the guaranteed income supplement" all "have an income below the sustainable income."

The Institute's complete breakdown of sustainable incomes for a single person by city is below:

  • Saguenay: $24,083

  • Trois-Rivières: $24,402

  • Sherbrooke: $24,704

  • Quebec City: $27,409

  • Gatineau: $27,682

  • Montreal: $27,948

  • Sept-Îles: $32,682

"Even earning $15 an hour full time is still far from a sustainable income in many Quebec cities," Couturier concludes.

Stay tuned for more news.

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