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The minimum wage is now closer to a living wage for Perth and Huron 2015

Living Wage StoryA living wage is the hourly wage workers need to cover their family’s basic expenses: food, housing, utilities, transportation and childcare.  According to the Canadian Centre for Policy Alternatives, the living wage for Perth and Huron was $16.47 per hour in 2015 (Social Research and Planning Council, 2015).  The positive impact of earning a living wage is twofold: workers benefit from financial security and improved quality of life, and employers benefit from engaged, more productive staff with reduced turnover and absenteeism.  In Huron and Perth, about half of all households reported earning less than the living wage (Statistics Canada, 2011 National Household Survey).  The local economy is further challenged by a shortage of skilled trades and other professionals, as well as a high out-migration of youth.   

 

A series of conversations was held with local workers and employers to gather their feedback about earning a living wage in Huron and Perth.  Despite the overall positive reaction that many workers and employers have about the concept of a living wage, concerns were raised including the belief that increasing wages could actually harm those it was intended to help by increasing the overall cost of living.  On January 1, 2018, Ontario’s minimum wage increased from $11.60 per hour to $14.00 per hour.  Similar concerns emerged including the belief that increasing the minimum wage would lead to reductions in employment and higher costs for goods and services.  An extensive review of 30 years of labour market data from across Canada shows no significant relationship between minimum wages and labour market outcomes (Brennan & Stanford, 2014).  In fact, this study suggests that labour market performance could be accelerated by increasing the number of people working in stable, fairly-paid jobs.  Increasing the minimum wage over time could bring us closer to the goal of all families in Huron and Perth earning a living wage.  The economic debate can be broadened to consider the social implications of low-wage work and poverty such as poor physical and mental health outcomes, diminished educational attainment, and increased homelessness – huge costs to individuals, families, and whole communities.

 

Social Research and Planning Council (2015). A Living Wage: What it takes to make ends meet in Perth and Huron Counties. Retrieved from http://perthhuron.unitedway.ca/wp-content/uploads/2015/06/SRPC-LivingWageReport-WEB.pdf

 

Statistics Canada (2013). Perth, CTY, Ontario (Code 3531) and Huron, CTY, Ontario (Code 3540) (table). National Household Survey (NHS) Profile. 2011 National Household Survey. Statistics Canada Catalogue no. 99-004-XWE. Ottawa. Released June 26, 2013. Retrieved from http://www12statcan.gc.ca/nhs-enm/2011/dp-pd/prof/index.cfm?Lang=

 

Brennan, J. & Stanford, J. (2014). Dispelling minimum wage mythology: the minimum wage and the impact on jobs in Canada, 1983-2012.  Ottawa, ON: Canadian Centre for Policy Alternatives, National Office. Retrieved from https://www.policyalternatives.ca/sites/default/files/uploads/publications/National%20Office/2014/10/Dispelling_Minimum_Wage_Mythology.pdf

 

 
 
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