The living wage is what a worker needs to earn, per hour, at 40 hours per week, in order to make ends meet where they live.

The United Way of Bruce Grey began issuing a living wage report in 2014 using a single income family profile. To add their voice to the provincial Ontario Living Wage Call for Action, the United Way reconfigured their data to align with the provincial representative framework. The framework was developed by the Canadian Centre for Policy Alternatives.

How is the Living Wage calculated?

Major expenses that workers face such as shelter costs, transportation, childcare, and food are in the calculation. Also taken into account are other expenses such as internet access, a modest annual vacation, and clothing. Any applicable government taxes, transfers, and benefits are factored in as well. The result is an hourly wage that a worker must earn in order to make ends meet where they live.

For Bruce Grey, 3 demographic profiles were used to generate the standardized Living Wage for Bruce Grey:

  • Single person: $19.12
  • Single parent with 2 children: $24.74
  • 2 parents, 2 children: $21 .05 for both parents

“The most significant driver for the increase has been the cost of housing for people. The United Way did this calculation in the summer, utilizing data prior to the recent inflationary issues for food and other consumable costs” explains Executive Director Francesca Dobbyn. “This is the bottom, this is the barely making a budget work Living Wage.”

The budget does not include funds for:

  • Savings
  • Education savings for the children
  • Home-ownership costs
  • Costs to take care of a family member
  • Pets
  • Social engagements
  • Debt repayments

“The demand for emergency food rose sharply during the pandemic.  However, community meal programs and food banks are reporting on they are still seeing high numbers and new faces.” Jill Umbach, Coordinator, Bruce Grey Poverty Task Force confirms. “Despite the long history of food banks in Grey Bruce, household food insecurity has persisted at high rates.”

Recent studies have found that about 1 in 6 people in Ontario live in a household experiencing food insecurity (Proof 2021) and about 1 in 5 Canadian children live in a food-insecure household. The recent Grey Bruce Nutritious Food Basket Survey revealed that for low-income households in Grey-Bruce, current income levels are not adequate to pay for basic living costs, including food and housing. 

The United Way of Bruce Grey and The Bruce Grey Poverty Task Force advocate for a move from relying on a food charity model to income solutions that increase the incomes of vulnerable households in our community.

“A job should lift the employee out of poverty,” Dobbyn explains further. “With the significant increases to the cost of housing we see locally, people are working, yet sliding further and further into poverty.” While no one should live below the poverty line, there is an understanding and an expectation that being employed full-time should lift that person, and their family, out of poverty.

Benefits to businesses who pay a Living Wage include:

  • Reduced recruitment costs
  • Reduced training costs
  • Better morale
  • Employees do not have to hold down multiple jobs just to make ends meet
  • Less fatigue
  • Increased productivity
  • There are over 500 certified living wage employers in Ontario

For more information on the Living Wage report please contact Francesca Dobbyn at 519-376-1560 or

For more information on Living Wage Ontario, please contact Anne Coleman, Campaign Manager, Ontario Living Wage Network

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