Today the Guelph & Wellington Task Force for Poverty Elimination launched a living wage campaign at an event at Innovation Guelph. The living wage is an hourly rate that is calculated based on a modest, bare necessities budget that allows people working full-time to meet basic living expenses and to fully participate in work, family life, and community activities. Based on local data, the living wage for Guelph & Wellington is $15.95 per hour.
To learn more about the living wage and how it was calculated for our community, click here: A Living Wage for Guelph and Wellington.
To learn how to support the living wage, click here: A Call to Action for Guelph & Wellington.
Trish Hennessy, Director of the Canadian Centre for Policy Alternatives Ontario office and keynote speaker at the launch event noted the living wage in Guelph and Wellington is part of a province-wide conversation. “Today, Guelph-Wellington joins a growing movement here in Ontario that’s calculating what it takes to make a living wage in their community,” says Hennessy. “They’re not just cranking out a number. They’re sparking a conversation about what it takes for low-waged workers to get by in this province. In a world of growing precarious work, that’s an important conversation to spark.”
At $15.95 per hour, the full-time employment income for someone making the living wage would result in an after-tax annual income of $29,250. This is over $20,000 more than someone receiving Ontario Works receives and $9,000 more than someone making minimum wage. However, someone earning the living wage would still make more than $20,000 less than the average full-time employment income for Guelph and Wellington.
The Guelph and Wellington living wage is based on local data and includes basic needs expense categories such as food, shelter and clothing, but also includes the cost of expenses such as child care, non-OHIP health care, transportation, and recreation. The largest expense category is for shelter and related expenses, followed by child care, transportation, and food. In a report released at the event, A Living Wage for Guelph and Wellington, the calculation process is outlined. The living wage hourly rate, however, is only one part of the conversation.
“Our first priority is to raise awareness about what it costs for people to live reasonably in our community” said David Thornley, Co-chair of the Poverty Task Force. “While paying a living wage is perhaps the most obvious way to support the living wage, there are other opportunities to consider, such as supporting policy changes that improve government benefits and social programs, and providing employees with annual health benefits or transit subsidies. We want to encourage this type of conversation and challenge our community to do better.”
A second report released at the event, A Call to Action for Guelph & Wellington, challenges some of the myths about the living wage and offers suggestions for how various sectors can support the campaign in Guelph and Wellington. Examples of how other businesses, municipalities, and organizations have implemented the living wage across Ontario are also included.
Stuart Beumer, Chair of the Income Security Action Group, an action group of the Poverty Task Force, announced plans for a community conversation series in 2014. “The conversations will be themed around the major cost drivers of the living wage,” Beumer announced. “The community conversations will allow us to more specifically examine the costs and pressures that families and individuals face, as well as what can be done to alleviate these pressures so that earning a living wage can become a reality for a greater number of workers in our community.”
Following the launch of the community conversations, the Income Security Action Group plans to develop an employer recognition campaign to celebrate employers that are supporting their employees with a living wage. Similar programs have been launched successfully in other communities across the province, including Hamilton.
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