Waterloo workers need $16/hour to get by: report

October 15, 2014

Kitchener-Waterloo – A Waterloo region family of four with two working parents needs to earn $16 an hour to make ends meet, according to a new report published by the Centre of Policy Alternatives-Ontario (CCPA-Ontario).

The report, produced by the Waterloo Region Living Wage Steering Committee, is the region's first living wage calculation based on a national methodology created by the CCPA that is being adopted in communities throughout Ontario and across Canada.

"We know there are workers in Waterloo region who are working full-time but not earning enough to lift themselves out of poverty and we know there are employers in the region who want to ensure their employees earn enough to pay the bills and raise a family," says Greg deGroot-Maggetti, chair of the Waterloo Region Living Wage Steering Committee.

"When you factor in the cost to pay the rent, food, child care, transportation, as well as household bills such as utilities and laundry for two adults and two children, both parents need to earn much more than the province's minimum wage: two parents earning $16 an hour reflects what it actually takes to get by in Waterloo region."

The steering committee – which includes representatives from the region's business community, the United Way, the social planning councils of Kitchener-Waterloo and Cambridge-North Dumfries, labour and social justice groups – has been meeting for a year and working closely with the CCPA-Ontario to calculate the local living wage. The living wage calculation is based on the living expenses of a family of four where both adults are working full-time, year-round at 37.5 hours per week.

The living wage includes basic expenses such as food, clothing, shelter, child care, transportation, medical expenses and recreation. It does not include retirement savings, debt repayment, home ownership, savings for children's education, or anything other than a small cushion for emergencies or hard times.

"The living wage isn't extravagant but it is a reflection of what it takes to cover the basics," says CCPA-Ontario Economist Kaylie Tiessen. "It can make a world of difference in a worker's life. Employers benefit too: when employees are paid well they are healthier, happier, and more committed to staying in a workplace. That reduces turnover costs and improves productivity."

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For more information please contact: Greg deGroot-Maggetti (519) 745-8458 or Kaylie Tiessen (416) 729-9834. Download the report: https://www.policyalternatives.ca/publications/reports/calculating-living-wage-waterloo-region

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