Work, Ours and Yours During COVID-19

As this crisis continues to unfold, it's easy to be overwhelmed by the flood of daily posts, briefings, updates, emergency alerts, breaking news stories, announcements, and directives. 

We at the Ontario Living Wage Network are thinking of the many certified living wage employers and their employees and their families at this time. Now more than ever we need these good and decent businesses and organizations.

New employers continue to apply for certification with us, and we are carrying on with our work as we always have. Of course we wont be doing in-person duties such as certificate presentations and other public appearances. 

Our thoughts are also with employers and their workers who have seen a downturn due to the COVID-19 pandemic. Af of today, April 6th, the Canada Emergency Response Benefit applications are open in addition to several other measures. See Canada’s COVID-19 Economic Response Plan for individuals and businesses here:

https://www.canada.ca/en/department-finance/economic-response-plan.html

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City of Kingston: Certified Living Wage Employer

There have been motions winding their way through these council for 7+ years now, and it's great to finally see them certify.

They are at the supporter level, which recognizes that they pay all full-time staff at least the local living wage, calculated last November at $17.57/hr. They pledge to update their pay scales if needed, to track increases to the calculation every year.

Onboarding large public sector employers like The City of Kingston is a powerful way to set them on the path to pay all part-time and contracted staff a living wage. The living wage movement is no longer looking in from the outside; the city is now part of that movement to end working poverty...

 

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Huron County Newest Municipal Living Wage Employer

Huron County is now the third municipality to become a certified living wage employer. This is terrific. We really need our cities and towns to step up—now more than ever—in the fight against working poverty.

“I am thrilled that we can join others in our area by becoming certified as a Living Wage employer,” says Meighan Wark, CAO of the County of Huron. “At the County of Huron, we believe that paying a Living Wage is a very important movement to help lift families out of poverty and provide a basic level of economic security...

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#LivingWageWeek 2019

It's Living Wage Week, and first things first...we have 5 brand new calculations:

Region Rate
Haldimand Norfolk  $16.58
Renfrew County $16.80
Prescott Russell $17.15
Hastings Prince Edward $17.35
Grey Bruce  $18.39

And here are the updated rates:

Region Rate Year Previous % change
London $16.20 2019 $15.53 4.31%
Thunder Bay $16.21 2019 $16.05 1.00%
Chatham-Kent $16.33 2019 $15.86 2.96%
Waterloo Region $16.35 2019 $16.15 1.24%
Hamilton $16.45 2019 $15.85 3.66%
Sudbury $16.98 2019 $16.18 4.94%
Guelph Wellington  $17.00 2019 $16.90 0.59%
Leeds Grenville Lanark $17.21 2019 $17.07 0.82%
Perth and Huron $17.55 2019 $17.44 0.63%
Kingston $17.57 2019 $17.29 1.62%
Peterborough $17.63 2019 $17.65 -0.11%
Northumberland County $18.06 2019 $17.95 0.61%
Niagara Region $18.12 2019 $17.99 0.72%
Ottawa $18.42 2019 $18.21 1.15%
Halton $20.38 2019 $17.95 n/a*
Toronto $22.08 2019 $21.75 1.52%

* Halton Region's previous calculation used a different family model, so the previous and current rates are not directly comparable

 

There are also several events across the province to mark the week:

 

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On The Road Again...

On September 30th United Way Simcoe Muskoka, the Poverty Reduction Task Group, and the OLWN’s Anne Coleman presented on the living wage to Barrie City Council. Watch the presentation here, which begins at the 40-minute mark.

It is the latest in a steady stream of council appearances my colleague Anne has been making, racking up the travel kilometres from Hamilton to Kingston to Port Colborne and now Barrie.

As communications coordinator, it’s my job to help prepare for, catalog, and report on how these things go. Sometimes I’ll supply slides or other supporting materials. Of course there are often questions from the council members after such presentations.

The councillors in Barrie had several succinct exchanges with the presenters, and they seemed to have a genuine interest in what the living wage was and how it might impact the city they represent. It made me reflect on the other times the living wage has gone before a council in Ontario.

 

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Fuel Up With A Living Wage Supporter

Niagara has been certifying living wage employers at a furious rate this year, and the latest is Gales Gas Bar, with 15 locations across the area. 

They currently employ 22 full time and 76 part time staff. The full time staff are all paid at least the living wage–$17.99/hour–and have embarked on a wage increase and benefits plan to bring the part time staff up to the same over the next few years. 

Some employers are able to certify at the champion level, where they can demonstrate that all full time, part time and contracted staff are paid the living wage. Other businesses, especially those in industries where minimum wage models dominate, a phased implementation is needed. 

We look forward to announcing this family owned and operated business as a certified living wage employer at the Champion level. 

Here is the press release from the Niagara Poverty Reduction Network:

 

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE

Gale’s Gas Bar Limited Certified as a Living Wage Supporter

The Niagara Poverty Reduction Network is pleased to announce that Gale’s Gas Bar Limited has become a certified living wage employer at the Supporter level.

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First Living Wage Employer in St. Marys

ST. MARYS, ON - Luckhardt Landworks Ltd. is the latest to certify as a Living Wage Employer in the champion category. They are the first business in St. Marys to achieve this status.

“Luckhardt Landworks Ltd. is proud to be a Living Wage Employer. Since the company’s beginnings, it has been important that we contribute to the local economy by providing a sustainable living to our employees – to provide a quality of life and to enable us to attract the right people to deliver a quality product,” says Bryn Luckhardt, Owner of Luckhardt Landworks Ltd. “A win-win situation for everyone - we have excellent employees and wonderful customers. We are excited to participate in the Living Wage campaign to bring awareness to the local community.”

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Niagara Region at 20 Employers

Great article St. Catharines The Standard:

The drive to have Niagara employers pay a living wage hit a milestone this month — the 20th company signed on to the campaign. But paying all their workers enough that they can afford to live a decent life in the community is just part of it, said Justin Callon, co-owner of ServiceMaster Restore in St. Catharines."A lot of it is just providing the right atmosphere and treating people properly," he said. "Giving them a living wage definitely helps."

Read the full story here.

 


Beechwood Doughnuts is Niagara’s Latest Certified Living Wage Employer

The Niagara Poverty Reduction Network is pleased to announce that Beechwood Doughnuts has become a certified living wage employer. Beechwood Doughnuts is Niagara's first and only 100% vegan doughnut shop. Located in the heart of Downtown St. Catharines, Beechwood Doughnuts has proven that plant-based foods can be just as delicious as they are compassionate. They currently employ 10 full time staff and 11 part time staff. “Ever since we came to the realization that our little doughnut shop was becoming something much larger than we could have ever anticipated, becoming a certified living wage employer was at the forefront of our minds...

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A Parade to Get In Front Of

 

Originally posted at the Mennonite Central Committee Ottawa Notebook

 

“We need to create a parade that politicians want to get in front of.”

That is how one participant at our forum on the living wage and public sector employers put it.

At the heart of decent work is fair pay – the ability to earn a living wage. Not a poverty wage. But enough to meet your needs and fully participate in the life of your community.

But the growth of low-wage and precarious employment has become one of the defining labour market challenges in our time and one of the root causes of growing income inequality.

In 2017, the Government of Ontario’s Changing Workplaces Review found that 30% to 32% of workers in Ontario were in low wage jobs with few if any benefits. Many people in standard jobs, “work for very low pay and do not have a private pension.” (An Agenda for Workplace Rights, p. 45)

How does one change that reality?

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