Regina — A Living Wage for Regina would amount to $16.46 per hour based on a new report released by the Saskatchewan Office of the Canadian Centre for Policy Alternatives. The report, A Living Wage for Regina, authored by Paul Gingrich, Simon Enoch and Brian Banks, calculates the Living Wage for a family with two working parents and two children aged four and seven. Using cost-of-living data unique to the City of Regina such as rental prices, child care costs, transit fees, etc, the authors conclude that a family of four would require a Living Wage of $16.46 per hour in order to maintain a decent standard of living. The Living Wage reflects what people need to support their families based on the actual costs of living in a specific community.
While the Living Wage may seem generous in comparison with the provincial minimum wage of $10 per hour, the current minimum wage barely lifts a family above the poverty line. The Living Wage can actually be considered a rather conservative figure, as it only provides the income necessary to meet essential expenditures and ensure that a family does not slip into poverty. Parents and children would have adequate income to participate in work, life, recreational, and community activities. But it is certainly not a lavish wage — it doesn’t allow families to save for many of the things that most would consider essential; things like savings for retirement, post-secondary education for children, home ownership or service existing debt. Moreover, there is only a minimal income cushion in the case of a family emergency.
The report also calls for a Living Wage campaign that seeks to convince both for-profit and non-profit employers to adopt the Living Wage for their own employees and to apply the same standard to their major contractors. For example, if the City of Regina were to adopt a Living Wage ordinance, the city would commit not only to paying their own employees a Living Wage, but also require all companies working on service contracts with the city and city agencies above a certain threshold to pay the employees working under these contracts a Living Wage.
Highlights from A Living Wage for Regina include:
- Fully 27 percent of workers in Regina earned less than the Living Wage in 2012. That’s at least 30,000 employees struggling every day to make ends meet.
- 59 percent of workers in Regina earning less than the Living Wage are aged 25 or older. Even at the level of the minimum wage of $10.00 per hour, 39 percent of workers earning this wage in Regina are 25 years or older.
- In 2011, 23 percent of families with two or more persons in Regina earned incomes less than what a Living Wage provides. Increasing wages to the Living Wage level could potentially improve the lot of these 13,000 families currently in poverty or with low incomes.
- Over 140 municipalities in the United States have adopted Living Wage ordinances. Major private employers like VanCity Credit Union, SAP Software, KPMG and Barclay's Bank have all committed to paying a Living Wage in various communities.
- A 2009 Goldman Sachs report confirms that increasing the income of people with lower wages has a proportionately larger stimulating effect on the economy than increasing the income of those on high incomes. “Low–earners tend to spend more of their increased income than those on much higher incomes, because those on low-incomes have more essential spending needs to be met by any income increases”
A press conference is scheduled for the release of the report at 10:00 am on Friday, January 31 in the University of Regina Students' Union Boardroom, Riddell Centre 221.2.
For more information contact:
Simon Enoch, Director, Canadian Centre for Policy Alternatives - Saskatchewan Office, 306-924-3372.