Living Wage in Stormont, Dundas, Glengarry, Cornwall, Akwesasne

Published on February 15, 2023

When we talk about poverty in our community, we can’t ignore the elephant in the room: income.

In Stormont, Dundas, Glengarry, Cornwall and Akwesasne (SDGCA), more than 40% of working individuals are making less than $30k a year. As we’re facing record-breaking inflation and an increased cost of living, too many people in our community who work full-time are facing impossible choices – buy food or heat the house, feed the children or pay the rent. This can result in spiraling debt, anxiety, and long-term health problems.

As a community, we are seeing over a 120% increase in local foodbank usage, a growing demand for mental health services, and a rising number of people experiencing homelessness.

While we support and believe in financial literacy and working with families and individuals on budgeting when they want advice, it’s not the solution when there isn’t enough money at the end of the month to cover all basic expenses. It must start with an income that supports the cost of living in our community.

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. Minimum wage in Ontario is currently $15.50 which is 22.9% less than what’s calculated as a living wage.

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. In 2021, the living wage started to be calculated based on the weighted average of these three different household types.

Annual family expenses include food, childcare, clothing and footwear, shelter, communications, insurance, transportation, and adult continuing 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 has also impacted 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 for your organization.

Certified Living Wage Employers in SDGCA

There are over 500 certified living wage employers in Ontario; however, none are currently certified in Stormont, Dundas, Glengarry, Cornwall and Akwesasne. There are many employees in our region that pay a living wage, and we thank you for that. If you are interested in becoming certified, you would be joining a network of employers who are leading the way for poverty reduction in our communities.

There are a few local employers in the process of implementing a Living Wage strategy and becoming certified (us too!), so let’s make it official together. Will you join us?

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