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Ontario: A Living Wage
Seaway News
Michelle Gratton

February 2, 2012
View the Original Article


Like already happening in many communities across Canada and the United States, we need to start having a dialogue about “why is it that people are doing what they should be doing by getting a job and working full-time, yet on pay day, they can’t even afford to eat, pay the rent AND have electricity?” Simply put, the discussion needs to be about how the minimum wage is currently not working for anyone, no matter how frugal we are. Even households with up to 2 full-time minimum waged workers are still falling below the poverty line and not able to meet their basic needs. Many ‘poor’ jobs still exist today with inadequate unjust wages and are keeping too many people trapped in poverty. According to Campaign 2000’s Report Card on Child and Family Poverty in Ontario, over sixty percent of new jobs created in Ontario during the first 9 months of 2010 were part-time without fair and secure incomes.Low paying jobs mean less money being spent in local businesses or on local goods and services. Low paying jobs mean stressed out parents or individuals working at various low paying jobs just to make ends meet and giving up on critical time that could be spent with children and even participating in community events. Low paying jobs mean probable high risks of increased health care costs for adults and children living in poverty and the continuous and increasing need for food banks and affordable housing programs.

A living wage is not enforced by an act or law;a living wage is merely a voluntary commitment and set by forward-thinking employers who want to guarantee that their hard working employees earn a decent living wage and hasa quality of life they deserve. A living wagetakes into consideration and includes most basic needs in addition to cost for clothing and personal belongings, basic transportation, medical and dental costs not typically covered, and even the chance to participate in occasional social activities because everyone should have the opportunity to be able to participate in their community.Unfortunately, a living wage still wouldn’t cover important costs such as paying a mortgage, saving for retirement or a child’s post-secondary education.

With well over 140 American cities and several Canadian municipalities, implementing a living wage is provingto show,with evidence,the many benefits to workers and employers; which then in returnis leading to stronger and healthier communities. A living wage for workers means an opportunity to rise out of poverty and ensure a fair chance at a better quality of life. A living wage for employers means less absenteeism, decreased turnover rates, lower recruitment and training costs, increased company morale, productivity, loyalty, and above all, recognition for being a responsible and progressive employer.