Any chance of matching my US federal employee salary in Toronto?
November 29, 2014 11:38 AM   Subscribe

My husband's been offered a position in Toronto that would advance his career somewhat, but the effect on my career is a Huge Unknown.

I'm a federal employee in the DC area with 12+ years of experience in communication, editing, technical writing and management. My salary is in the GS-15 range (somewhere between $125K and $157K), and I'm anxious that Toronto salaries for jobs similar to those I've held appear to be significantly lower.

We had two weeks to decide, and wasted one of them spinning our wheels and freaking out over what is potentially a life-changing decision to move to another country. I'm desperate for resources that can help us make an informed decision. If it's unrealistic to expect a similar income in Toronto for the work I can do, we need to know so we can decide if the overall dip in income is something we can overcome or not.

I'm open to all recommendations and information, though the salary issue is a sticking point. Bonus points for anyone who can pass on info about a service that can help me track down information and provide reliable information about Toronto-area salaries?
posted by Jaqi to Work & Money (18 answers total)
Best answer: The Ontario Ministry of Finance's Public Sector Salary Disclosure ("sunshine list") lists individuals with compensation above $100,00 paid by organizations with provincial public funding. You should be able to identify individuals in provincial and local government who have similar roles and see what their salaries are.
posted by grouse at 12:19 PM on November 29, 2014

Just FYI, many federal government positions would be in Ottawa and require bilingualism (although maybe they make exceptions for specialized/highly experienced people). Provincial government jobs would be more likely to be in Toronto/not require French-language skills.
posted by scribbler at 12:32 PM on November 29, 2014 [1 favorite]

In general, middle-management/mid-career roles in Canada don't pay as well as in the US.
posted by warriorqueen at 12:35 PM on November 29, 2014 [2 favorites]

In my experience, salaries are indeed lower than in the US. I'm an experienced communications manager in the quasi-public sector and I can tell you that your figure is high for Toronto. (Depends on your level though, senior level directors and above do go higher.) Just one example that I could find -- the City of Toronto for a Senior Communications Advisor and the pay scale tops out at $104,000.
posted by Lescha at 12:55 PM on November 29, 2014

I work for a provincial Ministry and $125K is a director-level salary. Salaries are higher at agencies and in the broader public sector.
posted by sevenyearlurk at 2:13 PM on November 29, 2014 [1 favorite]

Response by poster: Thanks for the answers so far, everyone! I just wanted to pop in to clarify that, while I'm a federal employee in the US, I wasn't planning or expecting to assume a federal/government position if I relocate to Canada. I'm preoccupied with evaluating whether it's likely (or even possible) to match my current salary. Based on the information posted here so far, it looks like only very senior-level positions will approach or exceed my current income. Fun times in decision-land ahead!
posted by Jaqi at 2:18 PM on November 29, 2014

Anecdatally, it may be very difficult to get work anywhere near your level in Toronto. It seems to be a small market. I have known highly qualified people who left high-profile positions to move there, and ended up stacking shelves in a supermarket.

This is just anecdata, and goes back to over a decade or so.
posted by tel3path at 3:13 PM on November 29, 2014

Marketing and communication salaries in Canada suck. You could easily be paid $65-80k for what you do now. $125k would be a really good salary at director level, without the benefits and job security.
posted by Chaussette and the Pussy Cats at 3:29 PM on November 29, 2014

Best answer: Another factor to consider is the weakening of the Canadian dollar which seems to be on a long downward trajectory. At your high income levels this translates into a difference of many thousands against your current salary paid in US dollars.
posted by Klaxon Aoooogah at 3:44 PM on November 29, 2014

Just to illustrate the above,

125K CAD = 109K USD at today's rate.
posted by Klaxon Aoooogah at 3:49 PM on November 29, 2014

One final thought (sorry) is that overall, the US economy is doing much better than Canada right now. Instead of taking a clue from the financial crisis/housing collapse, Canada went ahead and mortgaged itself to the hilt and is on the verge of a housing correction which is very obvious in cities like Montreal and Halifax presently. Toronto and Vancouver housing is obscene at the moment.
posted by Klaxon Aoooogah at 4:02 PM on November 29, 2014

Salaries are lower, but factor in that you won't have to pay for healthcare once you're considered a resident. (Many pathways to eligibility). Seriously.. go to your GP? Free. Car crash, end up in the ER? Free. There are costs for elective procedures, for some kinds of physiotherapy, and for things like doctors notes--but day-to-day healthcare is cost-free.
posted by feckless fecal fear mongering at 4:52 PM on November 29, 2014 [4 favorites]

Toronto is also home to Canada's financial industry, so there might be jobs in the private sector here that would be unavailable in D.C.

In addition to healthcare benefits, if you are considering having a child in upcoming years, you get a combined 50 weeks of maternity and parental leave per child.

D.C. is pretty expensive as U.S. cities go, so the currency difference may matter less than you think.
posted by grouse at 7:19 AM on November 30, 2014

Best answer: I know a number of people who are on the Ontario sunshine list. I would say about 80% of those people I found on it are underpaid. (Since moving to Toronto from the U.S., I haven't made as much money as I did in the U.S. in any tax year, even before adjusting for inflation; I think I'm also underpaid.) A number of jobs with the federal government give preference to Canadian citizens or require that you be one.

Also, Toronto is currently in the midst of a ridiculous housing bubble. That and the recent decline in oil prices may act as a drag on the Canadian economy for the next little while.
posted by one more dead town's last parade at 6:48 PM on November 30, 2014

Cost of living in Toronto is quite high for Canada. But it looks like the cost of living is much lower than DC, which is something to take into consideration.
posted by el io at 9:30 PM on November 30, 2014

Response by poster: We've seen several sites that compare the cost of living between Toronto and DC, and are mystified by the picture they paint. It's been our experience on visits and researching for this decision that the two cities are more comparable than not. (In our search for suitable housing, we're finding that our monthly rent would increase. Perhaps the housing bubble some here have mentioned has something to do with this.)
posted by Jaqi at 7:36 AM on December 1, 2014

If there was similar type of work available for you in the Buffalo/Niagara Falls, NY area (in other words a job transfer for you) then living in the Hamilton area would allow both of you to commute to work albeit in opposite directions (this is probably a long shot but worth mentioning).
posted by DonM at 6:35 PM on December 4, 2014

Response by poster: Thanks, everyone, for your responses and input. The mister and I are still grappling with the choice between DC and Toronto (so many selling points for both cities!), but the information you've provided has been helpful and thought-provoking.
posted by Jaqi at 1:07 PM on December 29, 2014

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