There have been many developments in the living wage movement in Ontario since we sent out our last newsletter. With so much going on lately, we've decided to make this a regularly-scheduled update, to be sent every second last Thursday of the month. So yeah...
The living wage communities that make up this network are certifying new employers every week, and we now have a listing of 221 businesses and organizations.
The living wage is being debated (sometimes hotly) in municipal council chambers.
Mainstream media outlets call on those in our network to speak about the living wage.
We have 22 local living wage calculations, 16 of which were simultaneously updated last November.
I am proud to report that there is a growing sense momentum in many parts of the province among our various partners in the network.
I can see a point in the future where you could shop almost entirely at local living wage certified businesses. Also in this future, public sector employers like municipalities, school boards and hospitals pay all workers, including contract employees such as cleaners and security guards, a living wage.
We're not quite there yet, but we're getting closer. In the meantime, I hope you enjoy reading about our latest activities and news.
Poverty Program Coordinator & OLWN Chair
Mennonite Central Committee Ontario
In this update: MEDIA COVERAGE | FEATURED EMPLOYER | LIVING WAGE MUNICIPALITIES
- Anne Coleman, campaign manager for the OLWN, spoke to Mike Farwell of Kitchener's 570 News about the municipality of North Perth becoming a certified living wage employer. After the interview he states simply: "The Ontario Living Wage Network is on to something..." Yes we are Matt, thanks for having Anne on your show. LISTEN TO THE INTERVIEW HERE.
- "This was a clear winner for us" says Mayor Todd Kasenberg of North Perth, as quoted in another story about that municipality becoming certified. FULL ARTICLE.
- "Niagara living wage campaign hits milestone" was the great headline in the Standard, as Niagara Region signs up their 20th certified living wage employer. FULL ARTICLE.
Each month we'll showcase a newly certified living wage employer. This Month it is Smithville's Sicard RV.
Family owned and operated since 1968, Sicard RV is one of Canada's largest premier recreational vehicle dealerships. Sicard RV, carries an inventory of over 700 RVs, ranging from Travel Trailers to Fifth Wheels to Class-A Motor Homes. They provide customers with exceptional in-house services, and carry one of the largest selection of RV parts and accessories. Sicard RV promotes a positive work environment, treating all of their employees and customers past, present and future like family.
Sicard RV raised the pay of nearly 20% of their employees to the Niagara region's living wage rate of $17.99 when they became certified in February 2019.
LIVING WAGE IN THE PUBLIC SECTOR
Public sector employers such as hospitals, school boards and municipalities are anchor institutions in the communities they serve. Yet many workers–especially those working as contracted staff such as cleaners and security guards–earn wages that keep them in the ranks of the working poor. Adopting living wage hiring and procurement policies not only makes sure our public sector institutions are good employers, these initiatives also lead by example to the wider community of employers as well.
We currently have 6 certified living wage employers in the public sector:
City of Cambridge, Guelph General Hospital, Hamilton-Wentworth District School Board, Niagara Falls Community Health Centre, and Public Health Wellington-Dufferin-Guelph.
Earlier this year, the City of Hamilton agreed to review the budgetary impact of a living wage policy, but council declined to pass a motion that would make that city a living wage employer. Instead they deferred the decision to 2020, but they did agree to pay crossing guards a living wage in the mean time. So it's a start.
In the spring, the City of Kingston directed staff to evaluate a living wage hiring and procurement policy. Anne Coleman, our campaign manager, and local organizer Tara Kainer deputed to council on the subject. No timeline was given, but it's also a start.
Finally, in the municipality of North Perth, centred around the town of Listowel, we were able to take this picture:
From left to right: Kriss Snell, CAO of North Perth, Anne Coleman, Ryan Erb, CEO of United Way Perth Huron, Mayor Todd Kasenberg
While there may not be as many employees under this small municipality in southern Ontario as the other cities looking at the living wage, they have taken a powerful action that is an example for other public and private sector employers.
Because of the political dimension of a council vote–among other things–the process of certifying a public sector employer can be challenging. There will be wins, losses and deferments. But we will see the discussion about living wage continue to spread to chambers all over the province as we work with organizers and staff to make these policies a reality. Stay tuned...