The Niagara Poverty Reduction Network (NPRN) has recently released the 2019 Cost of Living in Niagara Region and 2019 Living Wage for Niagara Region calculations, updating its 2018 calculations. The reports provide the full methodology used in the development of the calculations.
With the annual cost of household living expenses for a Niagara region family of four conservatively pegged at over $73,000, the hourly wage necessary for families with two working parents to meet these expenses, otherwise known as a living wage, is now $18.12. Four key items – housing, child care, transportation, and food – account for 71% of the total cost of living expenses.
Calculating the cost of living for a family of four in Niagara region is an opportunity for the NPRN to raise awareness of the challenges thousands of Niagara families face in trying to meet their cost of living needs. It is a useful baseline to explore in detail the different cost of living line items in the report and an opportunity to discuss and find solutions to help Niagara families address their cost of living requirements.
The living wage calculation report showcases the equivalent wage needed by two earners to meet their family’s household cost of living needs. The report is intended to:
- Encourage the Niagara community to talk about wages, work, and compensation in different ways
- Act as a guide for employers who want to pay their workers Niagara region’s living wage
- Generate discussion about other public policy changes needed to support cost of living affordability, such as public transportation, housing, and affordable child care.
A living wage is not the same as the legislated minimum wage. It is a voluntary commitment that employers can make to compensate directly-employed and contract-employed full-time and part-time workers. A recent study found that precarious, unstable employment is a significant issue for many workers in Niagara and has a direct impact on their health and the health of the community.
The Ontario Living Wage Network launched a provincial Living Wage employer certification program a few years ago. The program provides a voluntary opportunity for employers to become recognized for paying their employees, both direct and indirect, the living wage calculated for their local community. Niagara region currently has 28 certified Living Wage employers who collectively employ more than 1000 employees: Beechwood Doughnuts, ClaraDerma+, Damin Starr Commercial Enterprises, Dispatch, Dun’ For You Contracting, Gales Gas Bar, Gillian’s Place, Iron Will Raw, John Howard Society of Niagara, Kraun Electric, Marmax Machine & Manufacturing, Modern Landfill, Niagara Centre for Independent Living, Niagara Eye Care Centre, Niagara Falls Community Health Centre, Niagara Folk Arts Multicultural Centre, Niagara Pallet, Niagara Sexual Assault Centre, PenFinancial Credit Union, Person Centred Care, Positive Living Niagara, Second Dance Bridal/Feather & Pearl, ServiceMaster Restore of Niagara, Sicard RV, Spirit Athletics, The Enviro-Niagara Group, The Niagara Herbalist, and Women’s Place of South Niagara.
Employers who are interested in becoming Living Wage certified can contact the Ontario Living Wage Network for more information at http://www.ontariolivingwage.ca/
Chair, Niagara Poverty Reduction Network