What is a Living Wage?
The term “living wage” is used to describe earnings (whether hourly, weekly or annual rates) that are on par – or exceed – the basic standard of living. Living wages are designed to lift workers, and their families, out of poverty and will vary depending on the geographic location, among other factors. The calculation takes into account the cost to eat a nutritious diet, live in a habitable location, dress with dignity, and support the traditional household size so that one could have a family.
Check out: Enhancing Democratic Citizenship, Deepening Distributive Justice The Living Wage Movement, by Jordan Brennan
Check out: Estimating a Living Wage - A Methodological Review, by Richard Anker
Check out: Canadian Living Wage Framework, published by Living Wage Canada
Economic Benefits of Living Wages
In the United States, more than 100 municipalities (including Los Angeles and New York) have adopted living wage policies. It’s in the United States that the North American living wage movement has taken shape, partly in response to growing income inequality. In a study of living wage laws, the Economic Policy Institute finds these higher wages have raised productivity among participating firms, have small to moderate effects on municipal budgets, among other impacts.
Canadian Experiences with Living Wage
In Canada, there are a few cities that have either living wage or an equivalent policy that ties government contracts to a higher minimum wage. In 2011, New Westminster, British Columbia became the first “Living Wage Employer” city in the country.
Check out: City of New Westminster website
Toronto is one example, with its fair wage policy that ties municipality workers and contracts to union wage rates. A 2008 study by the Canadian Centre for Policy Alternatives pegged the living wage in Toronto