November 14, 2013

Living Wage Makes Good Business Sense

You may have seen the Globe and Mail's recent series on Canada's inequality problem. One of the things the series looks at is Canada's Wage Gap.

Last week I had the chance to participate in a Tamarack Institute tele-learning session on how the Living Wage Makes Good Business Sense.

You can listen to the thought-provoking podcast here.

The session looked at what it has meant for two organizations to become living wage employers: Vancity and the Hamilton Wentworth District School Board.
Hamilton Wentworth District School Board is the first elected body in Ontario to become a living wage employer.

The podcast gets into the nuts and bolts of what it takes to become a living wage employer. It is a process that takes time and the commitment to make it happen.

November 7, 2013

What's in a Living Wage

There is a growing living wage movement across Ontario and across Canada.

But what is in a living wage?

A living wage has been defined as "the hourly wage needed for a family to meet everyday expenses."
Here is a definition from Vibrant Calgary's Living Wage Leaders program:
"A Living Wage is the amount of income an individual or family needs to:
  • Meet their basic needs: housing, transportation, adequate, nutritious food
  • Maintain a safe, decent, dignified standard of living
  • Save for future needs and goals
  • Devote quality time to family, friends and community"
Calculating a living wage starts with a conversation about what goes into a decent standard of living. So here is a list of some items to consider for a living wage. 

  • Housing - rent
  • Utilities - heat, electricity, water
  • Food
  • Clothing
  • Phone
  • Transportation - car, bus tickets, taxi
  • Education - continuing education for adults, school fees for children
  • Child care
  • Health care - pharmacy and dental care
  • Recreation - theatre, concert or sporting events, for example
  • Fitness
  • Saving for retirement
  • Annual vacation
  • Mortgage and other debt payments

Which ones would you include in a list of what it takes to have a decent standard of living? What would you add?

November 6, 2013

Working for a Living

One of the goals of Mennonite Central Committee's work internationally and in Ontario is to help ensure people have access to sustainable livelihoods and food.

In Ontario, the main source of a sustainable livelihood for most people is paid work.

But if you are working for a living, what does it take to make a living wage?

Here is a sobering fact about poverty and work in Ontario:
In 2010, 92,500, or one-third of children living in poverty had a parent who worked full-time, full-year.
Stay tuned. In this series of blog posts, we'll explore how people are trying to make sure working for a living really provides a sustainable livelihood.