Minimum Wage of $16/h Required for Family of 4 in Regina

A Living Wage for the City of Regina is $16.46 per hour for a Family of Four: Report

Regina — A Living Wage for Regina would amount to $16.46 per hour based
on a new report released by the Saskatchewan Office of the Canadian Centre
for Policy Alternatives. The report, A Living Wage for Regina, authored by
Paul Gingrich, Simon Enoch and Brian Banks, calculates the Living Wage for
a family with two working parents and two children aged four and seven and
argues that Regina’s cost of living is outpacing employee wages. Using
cost-of-living data unique to the City of Regina such as rental prices, child care costs, transit fees, etc, the authors conclude that a family of
four would require a Living Wage of $16.46 per hour in order to maintain a
decent standard of living. The Living Wage reflects what people need to
support their families based on the actual costs of living in a specific
community.

The report addresses the extent to which low wages are a serious stumbling
block facing Regina families living in poverty or on poverty’s edge. “In
2011, 23 percent of families with two or more persons in Regina earned
incomes less than what a Living Wage provides. Increasing wages to the Living Wage level could potentially improve the health and education
outcomes of these 13,000 families currently in poverty or earning low incomes.

While the Living Wage may seem generous in comparison with the provincial
minimum wage of $10 per hour, the current minimum wage barely lifts a
family above the poverty line. Yet, the Living Wage can actually be
considered a rather conservative figure, as it only provides the income
necessary to meet essential expenditures and ensure that a family does not
slip into poverty. Parents and children would have adequate income to
participate in work, life, recreational, and community activities. But it
is certainly not a lavish wage — it doesn’t allow families to save for
many of the things that most would consider essential; things like savings
for retirement, post-secondary education for children, home ownership or
service existing debt. Moreover, there is only a minimal income cushion in
the case of a family emergency.

Living Wage campaigns do not seek to make the Living Wage the new legal
minimum, but rather, seek to convince both for-profit and non-profit
employers to adopt the Living Wage for their own employees and to apply
the same standard to their major contractors. For example, if the City of
Regina were to adopt a Living Wage ordinance, the city would commit not
only to paying their own employees a Living Wage, but also require all
companies working on service contracts with the city and city agencies
above a certain threshold to pay the employees working under these
contracts a Living Wage.

Highlights from A Living Wage for Regina include:

• Fully 27 percent of workers in Regina earned less than the Living Wage
in 2012. That’s at least 30,000 employees struggling every day to make ends meet.

• 59% of workers in Regina earning less than the Living Wage are
aged 25 or older. Even at the level of the minimum wage of $10.00 per hour, 39% of workers earning this wage in Regina are 25 years or
older.

• In the United States, over 140 communities have passed some form of
Living Wage ordinance. Here in Canada, New Westminster and Esquimalt B.C.
have become the first Canadian municipalities to adopt a Living Wage.

• Major employers who have adopted the Living Wage include VanCity
Credit Union, SAP Software, Deloitte, KPMG, United Way and the Canadian
Cancer Society.

• Increasing the income of people with lower wages has a proportionately
larger stimulating effect on the economy than increasing the income of
those on high incomes. “Low–earners tend to spend more of their
increased income than those on much higher incomes, because those on
low-incomes have more essential spending needs to be met by any income
increases”

The full report will be released Friday, January 31. A press conference is
scheduled for 10:00 am, Friday January 31 in the URSU boardroom (Riddell
Centre 221.2) at the University of Regina.

To speak with the authors:
Paul Gingrich: (306) 352 0253
Simon Enoch: (306) 924 3372

Yolanda Hansen
Coordinator of the Community Research Unit (CRU)
CL 432, Faculty of Arts
University of Regina Regina, SK S4S 0A2
306.585.4084
Yolanda.Hansen@uregina.ca
www.uregina.ca/arts/community-research

The curious should also read what “affordable housing” means in Regina.

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About John Klein

My full time blog is at AbandonedStuff.com My personal site devoted to my Regina politics work is at JohnKlein.ca