$19.05/hr. is the minimum a person needs to get by, says Ontario Living Wage Network

Ontario’s minimum wage of $15.50 an hour isn’t cutting it: that’s the conclusion of the Living Wage Network after its latest calculations.

“If you work full time you should be able to make ends meet. What else is work for, right? It’s supposed to be that you can pay your bills,” communications coordinator at the Ontario Living Wage Network, Craig Pickthorne told Global News.

“Shelter, food, childcare, transportation. We also take into account things I think we can all agree upon are essential like high speed internet access, non OHIP medical clothing,” Pickthorne said.

In Eastern Ontario that comes to $19.05 an hour this year, up from $17.75 last year.

There are employers that have joined with the living wage network through its living wage employer certification.

In Kingston there are 18 certified employers paying that living wage, ranging from the public sector like the City of Kingston, to not for profits like United Way KFL&A.

Norah Petersen is the owner of Daughters General Store on John Street and is a certified living wage employer.

“Our hope is that paying a living wage helps our employees feel valued and makes them happy workers and also that it acts positively in our community to encourage other businesses to do the same thing,” Petersen said.

Tri-Art Manufacturing is also a living wage employer. The family-run paint and art supplies business has over 70 employees. Co-owner Evan Ginsberg says they signed up to be a living wage employer when the pandemic hit in 2020.

“We knew it would be tricky times for everyone so it was one of the first things that we did was get on board with to help people out,” Ginsburg said.

Combined benefits for full time employees, two years into the living wage certification, Ginsburg thinks it’s been the right call.

“I think the moral has been pretty good with them and it’s definitely made a difference in terms of keeping people around and working,” added Ginsburg.

Retention is critical for employers in various sectors struggling to fill positions. Across the province there are now a total 530 certified living wage employers.

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