November 14, 2022 4:05pm
The Living Wage in Bruce Grey jumped by 12.5 per cent this year to $20.70 an hour. That’s how much a worker would need to earn over a 40-hour week just to make ends meet.
That includes costs like transportation, childcare, food, internet access, a modest annual vacation, and clothing. Any applicable government taxes, transfers, and benefits are factored in as well. It doesn’t include any savings, home-ownership costs, pets, or debt.
For Bruce Grey, 3 demographic profiles were used to generate the standardized Living Wage for Bruce Grey:
· Single person: $19.12
· Single parent with 2 children: $24.74
· 2 parents, 2 children: $21 .05 for both parents
Bruce Grey Poverty Task Force Co-Ordinator Jill Umbach pointed to the rising demand for food banks that started over the pandemic, that continues to increase. She said emergency support is important, but not the answer.
“They’re not going to change that family’s circumstances, or that individual’s circumstances, without that individual having a safe and affordable place to stay, as well as having income sufficient enough to be able to pay for everything,” she explained.
“The question from the poverty task force is really around why are these people not making enough money. We need employers to recognize that at this time that the cost of living has gone up, inflation is impacting, therefore things need to change,” she added.
Umbach advocates for a guaranteed income supplement for those who do not make a living wage.
“We are seeing a lot of singles not able to keep their homes. In particular, we’ve been seeing a lot of seniors who have been able to afford the rent as a couple, but with one of them having passed, becoming a single, it’s been challenging,” she said.
She added that recent studies have found that about one in six people in Ontario live in a household experiencing food insecurity, and about one in five Canadian children live in a food-insecure household.
She said with critical labour shortages, a living wage is a good retention strategy.
“We totally understand that for small businesses, pay a living wage is hard. But we also know that you’re probably going to have better staff retention, and productivity, if you do pay that. And if your staff feel that they are taken care of, then they’re most likely going to stay with you, and be more loyal” she continued.
“The most significant driver for the increase has been the cost of housing for people. The United Way did this calculation in the summer, utilizing data prior to the recent inflationary issues for food and other consumable costs” explained Bruce Grey United Way Executive Director Francesca Dobbyn. “This is the bottom, this is the barely making a budget work Living Wage.”
“A job should lift the employee out of poverty,” Dobbyn explains further. “With the significant increases to the cost of housing we see locally, people are working, yet sliding further and further into poverty.” While no one should live below the poverty line, there is an understanding and an expectation that being employed should lift that person, and their family, out of poverty.