What is the Living Wage

We're championing and showcasing the growing wave of living wage initiatives in Ontario.

We are a network of employers, employees, NGOs, non-profits, researchers, and proponents of decent work standards for all Ontario workers.

Together, we're changing the conversation about what the minimum standard of pay for low-wage workers should be in the province.

By fall of 2015, 24 Ontario municipalities were engaging in a conversation about what it takes to earn a living wage in their community.

Five communities have started a local employer recognition program:


Waterloo region




Ontario living wage calculations are based on Canadian Centre for Policy Alternatives-Ontario methodology.

The living wage is different than the provincially mandated minimum wage. Instead, it is based on a calculation that draws on community-specific data to determine actual expenses that a family of two working parents raising two children face. Living wage employers voluntarily decide that it's the right thing to do.

The living wage is the hourly pay required to cover basic expenses such as food, clothing, shelter and transportation. It’s a wage that allows employees not just to subsist but, also, to have access to the type of things that make for a decent quality of life: the ability for a family to participate in the community, to be healthy and active social citizens.

The Canadian Centre for Policy Alternatives’ Ontario office has developed a methodology for calculating the living wage in Ontario communities. This handy guide offers a step-by-step description of each component that goes into paying a living wage.

The calculation is not national, it’s not provincial – it’s done municipality by municipality to reflect real local living costs and the hourly wage required to meet those basic costs.

The Ontario Living Wage Network is grateful for financial support from:

The Ontario Living Wage Network is also partnering on a SSHRC-funded research project coordinated by Bryan Evans, Associate 
Professor in the Department of Politics and Public Administration at Ryerson University.

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