In 2018, the annual cost of household living expenses for a family of four in the Niagara region of Ontario is conservatively pegged at over $71,000. The hourly wage necessary for families with two working parents to meet these expenses, otherwise known as a living wage, is now $17.99. Four key items – housing, child care, transportation, and food – account for 72% of the total cost of living expenses.
Calculating the cost of living for a family of four in the Niagara region of Ontario 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, such as housing, child care, food, and transportation. This annual calculation provides a useful baseline to explore in detail the various cost of living line items and shines a light on the 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 required by two earners to meet their family’s basic household cost of living. The report is intended to:
- Encourage the Niagara-wide community to talk about wages, work, and compensation in different ways;
- Act as a guide for employers who want to pay their workers a local living wage in the Niagara context; and
- Generate discussion about other public policy changes required in Niagara, to support the cost of living affordability, such as public transportation, housing, and affordable childcare.
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 both their health and the overall health of the community.
The Ontario Living Wage Network has recently launched a provincial Living Wage employer certification program. 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. Within the Niagara region, there currently are seven Living Wage certified employers: Niagara Centre for Independent Living, Niagara Falls Community Health Centre, Niagara Folk Arts Multicultural Centre, Pen Financial Credit Union, Positive Living Niagara, Pre-line Processing, 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 www.ontariolivingwage.ca/
Chair, Niagara Poverty Reduction Network