Happy Living Wage Week!

by crystal wilson


Every year, during the first week of November, we celebrate Living Wage Week.  Since the very beginning of Flow, without knowing that there was such a thing as a Living Wage Calculation, April and I have been intent on paying a wage which, we felt, could allow our staff to comfortably cover their basic needs.  We’ve since learned that this means we are “Committed to paying at least a living wage” and we are in the company of many other employers in Ontario and beyond.  

 Happy Lady

Image courtesy ofBrooke Cagle


Contrary to what other types of businesses, and some folks in government would like you to believe, it is possible to pay employees a living wage and still turn a profit.  It is possible to pay employees a living wage and still grow your business. In fact, in a later blog, we’ll share why our stance is that it can actually make you more profitable, and push growth further.


So, what is a living wage?  And how is it different from minimum wage?


A living wage is calculated by region, and considers many factors involved in the expenses related to a fictional family made up of two 35 year olds working 35 hours each week, and their two children (one school aged, one pre-school).  The calculation of a living wage includes costs like healthy food, expenses related to one car and one bus pass, childcare, clothing and footwear, utilities, health insurance, etc. It is related to a modest budget, and allows for all essentials to be easily purchased.  It is not, by any stretch of the imagination, a “Thriving Wage”. The calculation describes the amount of income required for a family to get by without worry about basic expenses.  A minimum wage is simply the lowest hourly rate that an employer is allowed to use in compensating an employee. It has no relation to how much it actually costs to "make ends meet". 


Recently, Ontario has undergone a recalculation of Living Wage amounts across the province.  This is done every few years to account for rising costs and changing trends. With this year’s recalculation, Guelph’s rate increased $.40/hr from $16.50 to $16.90.  Employers enrolled in the Living Wage Employer Recognition Program will have 6 months to ensure that they have increased their staff’s wages to meet the new amount.


Do you pay some or all of your staff a living wage?  

If you do, and you aren’t yet involved in the Living Wage Employer Recognition Program, click through here to check it out.  It’s a fantastic opportunity to meet other like minded folks, obtain useful resources, receive recognition for your good work, and also - they feed us lunch at least twice a year!