The first two local living-wage employers are being recognized in Kingston by Ontario’s Living Wage Network.
The organization Living Wage Kingston came to fruition about six years ago, and members have supported and lobbied for a living-wage lifestyle within the community.
“It’s a voluntary program. It’s not going to be mandatory in any way but there are benefits for both employers and employees so we are encouraging people to sign on,” said Tara Kainer.
The living wage model is based on a family of four with two parents working full-time. The rate differs from city to city.
In the last few years, groups across Ontario have been advocating to implement a living wage. Currently, there are 140 employers on board in the province.
Living Wage Kingston calculated the current local living wage at $16.58. In 2011, it was $16.29.
The new rate reflects cost of living changes and an increase in benefits like the federal government’s Canada Child Benefit that was implemented in 2016.
Dave Brunet, the owner of a home improvement company says offering a living wage has helped boost staff morale and makes for a happier work environment.
“Give them a better standard of living, maybe. And offer them the ability to not have more than one job,” said Brunet from Brunet Plumbing Kitchen & Bath.
Heather Bryant from King’s Town Dental says her workplace just started implementing a living wage this year, and says it’s been a smooth transition.
“They give so much of themselves to patients and clients in the practice so we’re giving back to them. It’s positive feedback for our employees,” said Bryant.
The low-wage workforce in the province has grown by 94 per cent in the last two decades, according to Living Wage Kingston.
The province has committed to raising the minimum wage to $15 an hour by 2019, still well below what Living Wage Kingston says it takes to live comfortably in the Limestone City.