Young, working Canadians face a dilemma: eat, or pay the bills?

Macleans Magazine

A few months ago, Alex Fecioru was working two jobs, both of which aligned with his long term goals. He spent half his time mixing live music at a local Eastern European music venue, and the rest freelance sound editing on the side. That he was working only two jobs, and that both involved sound production, was a welcome change. Fecioru, 25, graduated four years ago with a degree in sound design with dreams to work full-time in the music business. For most of his adult life, he’s supplemented his music and editing work by hopping from food-service job to food-service job, toiling in kitchens, scraping by on minimum wage while striving to make the leap to his chosen vocation.

The last few months were supposed to be a pivotal stretch in that transition. Instead, they’ve turned into some of the hungriest of Fecioru’s young life. The monthly rent at his small Toronto apartment is $820, a small sum by the standards of his city, but enough to consume the lion’s share of his income. It leaves him with little to spend on other essentials—like food.

Worse, the pandemic abruptly closed off his other employment options, including his beloved sound work. He’d no sooner found a position in November as a coat-check attendant at a major art gallery than renewed COVID restrictions forced the museum to lay him off. Even the kitchen jobs dried up, as restaurants closed to in-person dining.

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