United Way Announces 2021 Living Wage of $17.35 for Haldimand and Norfolk
November 1, 2021
What does it take for a family of four to live comfortably in Haldimand and Norfolk County? That’s the question United Way of Haldimand and Norfolk wanted to answer in 2021. Adhering to the principles and methodology of the Canadian Living Wage Framework, United Way calculated the 2021 hourly Living Wage for Haldimand and Norfolk to be $17.35. This is an increase of $0.77 from the Haldimand Norfolk Living Wage in 2019.
The Living Wage is the hourly wage a worker needs to earn to cover their family’s basic everyday expenses, such as food, housing, utilities, childcare and transportation. The Living Wage was calculated based on a family composition consisting of two 35-year old parents working full-time for 35 hours per week, one 7-year old child who attends school and before and after school care and one 3-year old in childcare full-time year round. Different from the Minimum Wage which is provincially set, the Living Wage is locally formulated. The costs used to calculate the Living Wage for Haldimand and Norfolk have come from local sources based on expenses in this community. The Minimum Wage, which is currently $14.35/hour, does not take into account the basic needs to maintain a healthy, sustainable life. While the Minimum Wage is adjusted for inflation in Ontario, the Living Wage is adjusted regularly to take into consideration cost of living increases and changes.
A Living Wage means families can make ends meet and don’t have to choose between groceries, medical/dental expenses or rent. It means they can participate in community activities, like putting their kids into sports. What the Living Wage doesn’t include is credit card payments, loan or debt interest, savings for retirement, owning a home, savings for children’s future education, pets, or the cost of caring for loved ones with serious illnesses or disabilities. The Living Wage does not include anything other than the smallest cushion for emergencies or hard times.
“Over the past year we have seen a drastic increase in the costs to live in our community, spanning from the housing market to the cost of groceries,” stated Brittany Burley, Executive Director of United Way of Haldimand and Norfolk. “Having an updated Living Wage is an important piece of information for our community to better understand what it takes to be able to afford to live here. It’s important to note that the Living Wage is calculated using the average rental price for a 3-bedroom apartment of $1,018, as it takes into consideration rentals that may have been lived in for decades and have more affordable rates. A new family moving into the community would be hard-pressed to find a rental at that rate, which means they would need to earn even more than the Living Wage to survive in Haldimand and Norfolk.”
When asked why it was important for United Way of Haldimand and Norfolk to calculate the Living Wage, Burley responded, “One of our key focus areas is ‘From Poverty to Possibility’ and we believe knowing how much it costs to survive in our community is an important first step to reducing poverty. There are a lot of people out there working Minimum Wage jobs struggling to survive and it’s not because they are making poor financial decisions; it’s because the Minimum Wage is not enough to live on.”
Communities that have already implemented the Living Wage have found it to be beneficial to employers by improving recruitment, employee retention, increased productivity and morale and reduced retraining expenses. For workers, it reduced the need to work multiple jobs to pay bills, reduced stress of financial pressures, provided opportunities for skills training to further employment opportunities, improved nutrition, and raised the standards of living and quality of life. The community benefitted by raising consumer spending locally, increased local participation, and lowered child poverty rates.
United Way of Haldimand and Norfolk would like to thank Cassidy Robinson for her help on the project, as well as the Haldimand-Norfolk Health Unit.