Many working people struggle to make ends meet, living paycheck-to-paycheck because the minimum wage is not sustainable or livable. Because of this, one job is often not enough, and the reality is, workers are extremely underpaid, overworked, and exploited at nearly every opportunity they can be, in order to make rent, buy groceries and care for dependents if they have any.
Living wage initiatives are based on the premise that work should lift workers out of poverty. A living wage is the amount of money an employee at a job needs to earn to cover the cost of basic necessities and to adequately participate in community life. New Westminster, B.C. became the first municipality in Canada to officially become a living wage employer in 2010. Vancity Credit Union and the Hamilton-Wentworth District School Board are two of Canada’s largest private and public sector employers to sign living wage declarations.
The living wage, in a sense, attempts to make up the bare minimum cost of living.
Now, that is not to get confused with the minimum wage, which is the least amount an employer is required to pay you by law and is not the same thing as a living wage.
Workers and employers alike have been led to believe a myth, that by increasing minimum wages, the cost of living would be directly affected. With a recent 10-cent increase this past October 1st, after a hiatus on wage increases since 2018, we know this is not the case. The cost of living will increase regardless and workers are left to suffer from an unstable minimum wage. They are unable to afford healthy food, unable to take sick days and unable to be in a financially comfortable and secure position because the minimum wage is not enough to live on.
The living wage is calculated based on the needs of a family of four with two parents each working full-time, full-year. It would also support a family throughout the life cycle so that young adults are not discouraged from having children and older workers have some extra income as they age. Communities across Ontario use the National Living Wage Framework to calculate their local living wage rate. To learn more about the calculation visit Ontario’s Living Wage.
In 2019, The Living Wage Launch and Panel was held on November 4th at the Sudbury Indie Cinema Co-op. We assembled an expert panel, in the past, to discuss what impacts the living wage can have for people. Featuring Dana Wilson, Health Equity Manager from Public Health Sudbury District to discuss the impacts of wages and health; Fionna Tough from Sudbury Shared Harvest to discuss the connections between wages and food security, as well as panel members to talk about their lived experience and the larger economic implications of the Living Wage. The panel was informative and helped educate people on not only why employers should pay a living wage, but that it is even more sustainable and beneficial than increasing the minimum wage.
THE CITIES AND TOWNS WE CALL HOME MUST NOT BE LOW-WAGE EMPLOYERS IN OUR NAME.
After the aftermath of the COVID-pandemic, many workers have found themselves in a position where their wages are not promised, we must ensure workers are being paid secure and stable wages, especially here in the City of Greater Sudbury.
Municipal councillors have a special role to play in promoting a Living Wage in our community. By ensuring that our municipal employees have a Living Wage, they can strengthen us as individuals and families, and as a community. Living Wage municipalities can be a better model for all of us in improving our futures.
This year we are bringing the attention back to Sudbury’s Councilors!
On November 7, 2021 we joined together for a day of digital action to encourage the Municipal government of Greater Sudbury to support a $16.98 living wage and become certified Living-wage Employers!
You can join the action and send an email directly to Sudbury’s Municipal Leaders.