Niagara’s Living Wage
With the annual cost of household living expenses for a Niagara region family of four conservatively pegged at over $65,000.00, the Niagara Poverty Reduction Network has calculated the hourly wage necessary for families to meet these expenses, otherwise known as a living wage, to be $17.47. If an employer provides a comprehensive benefits package including life and disability insurance and dental, vision, and prescription drug coverage, the living wage is lowered to $14.47 per hour.
The Network recently released a new report, ‘Calculating the Living Wage for Niagara Region, 2016’, which outlines the full methodology used. The report is available on its website www.wipeoutpoverty.ca
A living wage reflects what two full-time earners in a family need to be paid based on the actual costs of living and being included in a specific community. It is an evidence‑based hourly rate at which a household can meet its basic cost of living needs, once government transfers have been added to the family’s income and deductions have been subtracted. Included in the calculation are food, shelter, clothing, transportation, child care, non-OHIP medical insurance, continuing adult education, and items that allow for fuller participation in society, such as communication, family leisure outings, and local recreation.
Providing wages that allow a family to meet its basic household needs is one important tool to address cost of living challenges in Niagara region and should be top of mind of all employers to consider implementing. However, the reality is that many Niagara businesses are struggling themselves to stay afloat, so other solutions must also be considered to help make life more affordable for workers, such as improved access to lower cost housing, transportation, and child care options.