2023 Living Wage increased by 8.1% in one year
The goal of the Living Wage Network is to eliminate working poverty by calculating what a family and single adult would need to earn to afford to live in the community they work in and by encouraging workplaces to pay it.
Earlier this year, when we shared the 2022 Living Wage, we discovered that nearly half of the working aged adults living in our region made less than what’s been calculated as the minimum amount required to afford basic necessities such as shelter, transportation, food, childcare, and other essentials. Even with the increase to the minimum wage to $16.55 on Oct. 1, 2023, a full-time worker who makes minimum wage in SDGCA can expect to be short $142 a week to make ends meet.
We feel it too. As a non-profit and as people who live and work in this region, it’s getting increasingly harder to budget as everything gets more expensive nearly every day.
We’re also seeing the impact with increased dependence on food programs, housing services, financial supports, and mental health services. For years, we’d been talking about “hidden homelessness”, but currently, it’s visible. And it includes people who are working full-time.
The reality is that the rising cost of living impacts those at the bottom of the wage spectrum the most. As everything increases in price, more and more people who had once been making ends meet, are seeing themselves in precarious positions where they must make difficult financial decisions. In 2022, 60% of people in Ontario reported they cut pack on food to pay their rent.
This is why we believe that paying employees a livable wage that reflects the cost of living in our region in is one piece of the puzzle of tackling the complexity of poverty in our region.
What is a Living Wage?
A living wage is the hourly wage a worker needs to earn to cover their basic expenses such as shelter, transportation, food, medical, and childcare to live comfortably and participate in our community. It reflects what people in SDGCA need to earn to cover the actual costs of living and draws on community-specific data to determine the expenses.
A living wage is not the same as the minimum wage, which is the legislated minimum all employers must pay and is set by the provincial government. Living wage employers voluntarily decide to pay a living wage and can be a certified living wage employer.
How it’s Calculated
To calculate a living wage, the Ontario Living Wage Network — a network of employers, employees, non-profits, and researchers – start by determining the costs of the basic goods for three types of families: two parents aged 35 and two children aged 7 and 3, a single parent with a child aged 7, and a single adult in communities across the province. The living wage calculation is a weighted average of these three different household types.
It is the before-tax income that takes into account government transfers (like the Childcare benefit, the Ontario CARE benefit) needed to cover expenses for each family type.
Annual family expenses include food, childcare, clothing and footwear, shelter, communications, insurance, transportation, and parent education. Expenses such as debt repayment, home ownership, and savings for children’s education or retirement are not factored in.
Become a Living Wage Employer
We know that the cost of living and inflation continues to impact many of our local businesses and that increasing wages is not something that can be implemented quickly; however, there are long-term benefits to working towards becoming a certified Living Wage Employer in Stormont, Dundas, Glengarry, Cornwall and Akwesasne.
If you decide to become a local living wage employer, let us know so that we can highlight and celebrate you!
Certified Living Wage Employers in SDGCA
Currently, there are 623 certified employers (849 places of work) in Ontario where everyone is paid at least a living wage.
At the United Way Centraide SDG, we’re proud to share that we’re among these employers. In 2023, we took the necessary steps to pay our staff at least a living wage and become a certified employer.
There are currently four living wage employers certified in SDGCA: United Way Centraide SDG, Centre 105 (through the Anglican Diocese of Ottawa), Eastern Ontario Health Unit, and Kawartha Credit Union. To maintain certification, employers agree to incorporate increases to the current living wage each year into their pay scale.
We know there are many workplaces that already pay their employees a living wage locally. By becoming certified, you are setting an example for the community and being part of a network advocating for the elimination of the working poor. Will you join us?