“Providing wages that allow a family to meet its basic household needs is one important tool to address cost of living and precarious employment challenges in Niagara region and should be top of mind for all employers.” – Glen Walker, Chair of the Niagara Poverty Reduction Network
News from the Niagara Poverty Reduction Network
Posted November 4th, 2019 on Niagara At Large
Niagara, Ontario – With the annual cost of household living expenses for a Niagara region family of four conservatively pegged at over $73,000, the Niagara Poverty Reduction Network (NPRN) has calculated the hourly wage necessary to meet these expenses, otherwise known as a living wage, to be $18.12 for 2019.
As part of National Living Wage Week, the Network has released a new report, ‘Calculating the Living Wage for Niagara Region, 2019’, which outlines the full methodology used.
The report is available on the NPRN website www.wipeoutpoverty.ca “A living wage reflects what earners in a family need to be paid based on the actual costs of living and being included in a specific community, “ says Glen Walker, Chair of the Niagara Poverty Reduction Network.
“It is an evidence-based hourly rate at which a household can meet its basic cost of living needs, once government transfers have been added to the family’s income and deductions have been subtracted.
Included in the calculation are food, shelter, clothing, transportation, child care, non-OHIP medical insurance, continuing adult education, and items that allow for fuller participation in society, such as communication, family outings, and local recreation.” Four key items – housing, child care, transportation, and food – account for 71% of the total cost of living expenses.
A living wage is not the same as the legislated minimum wage. It is a voluntary commitment that employers can make to compensate directly-employed and contract-employed full-time and part-time workers. A recent study found that precarious, unstable and low paying employment is a significant issue for many workers in Niagara, and this type of employment has a direct impact on employees’ health and the health of the community.
“Providing wages that allow a family to meet its basic household needs is one important tool to address cost of living and precarious employment challenges in Niagara region and should be top of mind for all employers,” says Walker.
To date, there are 28 certified Living Wage employers across Niagara region employing a total of over 1000 full-time, part-time, and contract employees.
Niagara’s current certified Living Wage employers include:
Beechwood Doughnuts, ClaraDerma+, Damin Starr Commercial Enterprises, Dispatch, Dun’ For You Contracting, Gales Gas Bar, Gillian’s Place, Iron Will Raw, John Howard Society of Niagara, Kraun Electric, Marmax Machine & Manufacturing, Modern Landfill, Niagara Centre for Independent Living, Niagara Eye Care Centre, Niagara Falls Community Health Centre, Niagara Folk Arts Multicultural Centre, Niagara Pallet, Niagara Sexual Assault Centre, PenFinancial Credit Union, Person Centered Care, Positive Living Niagara, Second Dance Bridal/Feather & Pearl, ServiceMaster Restore of Niagara, Sicard RV, Spirit Athletics, The Enviro-Niagara Group, The Niagara Herbalist, and Women’s Place of South Niagara.
Employers who are interested in becoming Living Wage certified can contact the Ontario Living Wage Network for more information at http://www.ontariolivingwage.ca/
About the Niagara Poverty Reduction Network – The Niagara Poverty Reduction Network is a collective of over 30 agencies and individuals working to wipe out poverty in Niagara through education, collaboration, and advocacy to address poverty’s root causes.
For more information, click on the Network’s website at – https://www.wipeoutpoverty.ca/
A Brief Afterword from Niagara At Large reporter and publisher Doug Draper –
The Niagara Poverty Reduction Network is certainly one group in Niagara, Ontario that deserves thanks and the support of all of us for the work that it has done in partnership with the business community and others to encourage a living income for working people and improve peoples’ lives.
We need organizations more than ever when we have a provincial government like that of Doug Ford and his Conservatives in power, that has been doing the bidding of a segment of the business community that donates big dollars to it by keeping wages down.
One of the earlier move Ford and his government made after taking power in 2018 was kill the previous Liberal government’s plan to raise the minimum wage to $15 an hour this year by capping it to $14 until 2020.
Lest we forget, this was done to working people struggling to make ends met by Doug Ford, who has said over and over again that his government is there “for the people” – for “the little guy.”
Ford claimed that raising the minimum wage to $15 an hour now – and remember that is still more than $3 less than what the Niagara Poverty Reduction Networks calculates is a living wage in this region of the province right now – would be a “job killer” that hurts businesses and the community.
Yet, there is very little evidence elsewhere in North America that raising the minimum wage to that level is a job killer, but there is plenty of evidence that people who make a higher minimum wage go out and spend that money in the community, thereby helping to stimulate the economies of the towns and cities they live in.
There is also evidence that generally speaking, businesses that pay their employees a decent wage tend to have employees that are more loyal and hardworking.
And to their credit, there are businesses out there who don’t buy the Doug Ford B.S. and have taken steps on their own to pay their employees a living wage. Just look at the growing list of Niagara employers, included in the Network’s news release above, that have already done it.
It all adds up to at least one very good news story for our Niagara region.
Doug Draper, Niagara At Large
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