Municipalities Should be Decent Work Leaders

As I write this, I am also preparing to do an interview with Matt Holmes of Newstalk610 in St. Catharines. A producer there asked if I would call in to discuss the recent vote in Port Colburne regarding the living wage.

When municipalities are considering living wage certification, listeners and callers to these radio shows rightly point out that most employees will already make at least a living wage. For that reason some regard the certification of a town or city as mostly symbolic.

It’s my goal on these interviews to remind listeners of two points.

First, employers make the commitment to ensure that in addition to full-time positions, part-time staff are paid at least the living wage. This includes young people who may still be students. The OLWN feels it is important for young people to earn a living wage as we cannot make assumptions about their circumstances or why they have a part-time job. Some young people are saving for post-secondary education and others may be helping to support their families.

And often forgotten in this discussion are third-party contracted workers. Security personnel and cleaners often earn minimum wage, and once the city reaches the Champion level, they receive a living wage. When public sector employers commit to the living wage certification program a large impact can be made in a community. This additional income earned by these workers goes directly back into the local economy and helps to support local business.

We already list two municipalities: North Perth and the City of Cambridge. We need more of these types of anchor institutions to set an example. I am happy to report there is interest in several cities of various sizes. The will is there. The campaign rolls onward.

Anne Coleman

Campaign Manager

Ontario Living Wage Network

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  • Anne Coleman attended a council meeting in the city of Port Colborne on August 12th, where she was called upon to answer questions regarding the living wage. While the vote did not direct the city's staff to pursue certification immediately, they did vote to study the implications for review in the fall. Watch her appearance here.
  • Anne was then asked to call in to the Newstalk610 show "Niagara in the Morning" to discuss the living wage as a result of her appearance in the council meeting. Listen here.


Each month we'll showcase a different certified living wage employer. This month it is Kingston's Loving

Loving Spoonful connects people with good food across Kingston & area. Working toward a healthier, more connected community, Loving Spoonful provides programs and champions policies affecting food security, poverty, social inclusion, and community health.

They have delivered over $1,750,000 of the freshest healthy produce to over 40 agencies and 18 Fresh Food Market Stands serving those experiencing hunger in Kingston since they started. That's the equivalent of over 700,000 healthy meals.

Loving Spoonful is proud to be a member the Ontario Living Wage Network. As an organization focused on increasing food security, they recognize what the research proves–that food security is directly linked to income. People need to eat well to think well, work well and, most importantly, get the most out of life.

Loving Spoonful wants to be part of ensuring that everyone can thrive, and joining the Living Wage movement is part of that.


There are currently two local Chambers of Commerce listed as certified living wage employers: the North Perth and Hamilton Chambers of Commerce. North Perth actively encourages its members to seek out living wage certification.

Roland Tanner, co-founder of TannerRitchie Publishing, and a member of the Burlington Chamber of Commerce, clarifies a few misconceptions of where some members of these business associations stand on the living wage in his blog post Living Wages Are Good For Ontario's Businesses And Taxpayers:

"The Chamber is a broad church, containing members with a range of political perspectives. Presenting Ontario's businesses as universally supportive of [Provincial policy] demonstrates an OCC leadership out of touch with, or apathetic of, the full range of opinions of its membership.

It is businesses with vision and insight that sign up to the Ontario Living Wage Network and Better Way Alliance and commit to paying a properly calculated living wage for their region.

Thanks for the shout out...and it's good to hear a range of perspectives from members of different chambers. We look forward to certifying more as living wage champions in the future.