An hourly wage of $16.46 is just sufficient to meet the basic needs of a Regina family of four with both parents working full time. Many Regina workers earn less than this even though they work full time – meaning they are in poverty or in danger of falling into poverty.
The Living Wage is one means by which we can achieve greater fairness and dignity. Paying workers a Living Wage helps build community by ensuring that families have adequate income to participate in work, life, recreational, and community activities. And it helps business by boosting local purchasing power and reducing employee turnover.
Let’s make sure workers are paid enough so they can do more than merely survive.
MONTHLY BUDGET FOR A FAMILY OF FOUR
Here’s a bare bones budget for a Regina family of four, with two parents, a boy aged seven, and a girl aged four.
• Both parents work full time year round.
• The family rents a three bedroom apartment and has a used car and a Regina Transit pass.
• The children are in licensed preschool and school aged day cares.
• The parents each take one course per year at SIAST to upgrade their credentials.
A Living Wage of $16.46 per hour means a monthly income of $4,853, just enough to meet the above expenses. This leaves little opportunity for saving, although a small contingency ($192 a month) allows meeting unexpected emergencies such as family illness or having to relocate to a different apartment.
WHAT IS THE LIVING WAGE?
The Living Wage differs from the minimum wage. The $10 per hour Saskatchewan minimum wage is a poverty level wage. A Living Wage is sufficient to meet a family’s basic needs and ensure that it does not slip into poverty. In Regina, 27 per cent of workers earn less than the Living Wage of $16.46 per hour. Many are teenagers but 59 per cent are aged 25 or older, meaning they and their families struggle to meet monthly bills.
DOES ANYONE PAY A LIVING WAGE?
In British Columbia, Vancity and Community Savings credit unions, the United Way of Lower Mainland, and Café Etico are Living Wage employers. The City of New Westminster requires all firms contracting directly or indirectly with the city to provide services on city premises to pay their workers a Living Wage. Following a recent referendum, the council for the City of Seatac in the state of Washington requires workers to be paid $15 per hour.
WHAT ARE THE BENEFITS OF A LIVING WAGE?
• It reduces poverty.
• It helps close the gap between female and male wages.
• It increases workers’ purchasing power.
• It reduces employee turnover.
Workers, their families, communities, businesses, and the City of Regina will all benefit from a Living Wage.
LET’S MAKE REGINA A LIVING WAGE CITY!
• Read about the Living Wage in the 2014 Canadian Centre for Policy Alternatives – Saskatchewan report A Living Wage for Regina: http://www.policyalternatives.ca/publications/reports/living-wage-regina
• Find out more about reducing poverty in Saskatchewan:
►Poverty Free Saskatchewan: http://www.povertyfreesask.ca/
• Support businesses that pay their workers a Living Wage.
• If you are an employer, make sure all your employees are paid a Living Wage.
• Encourage the City of Regina to make sure that all city employees are paid a Living Wage and that all employers contracting with the city pay their employees a Living Wage. Send this leaflet to your MLA and City Councillor.
IT’S TIME FOR A LIVING WAGE!