At the Cobourg Council meeting on December 2, 2019 Kristina Nairn of the Haliburton, Kawartha Pine Ridge District Health Unit (HKPR) asked that Council consider being certified as a “living Wage Employer” – that would mean that Cobourg and its contractors would have $17.95/hour as their minimum wage. Councillor Nicole Beatty moved a motion (that passed) that staff report back on the feasibility and impact on the Town with the report due March 9, 2020. So at the Committee of the Whole meeting on March 9, Interim Human Resources Manager, Colleen McBride will provide that report. It turns out that there are three levels of certification and the Town already meets the middle level, called the LEADER Level. To get to the top CHAMPION level requires that employees of all of the Town’s contractors must also be paid a Living wage.
Colleen (file photo at right) also explains more about what exactly a Living Wage is – there are exceptions and considerations.
Definition of Living Wage
- A living wage is defined as the hourly wage a worker needs to earn to cover their basic expenses and participate in their community. In Northumberland County, the Haliburton, Kawartha Pine Ridge District Health Unit has calculated that to be $17.95 per hour (as of Nov 2018) or $18.06 in 2020.
- The calculation assumes full-time, but no reference is made to how many hours a week are worked/paid. In the Town, non-union paid hours are 35 per week and union workers are at 40 hours/week.
- The living wage calculation is based on a reference family of four, which includes two adult parents who are age 35 with two children ages 3 and 7.
- The living wage calculation does not include:
- Debt repayment – student or car loans, credit card debt
- Savings for children’s post-secondary school education
- Savings for retirement
- Costs of pet ownership
- Home ownership costs
- The living wage calculation is inclusive of employer paid non-mandatory benefits. This means that the cash living wage becomes $16.26/hour – the difference is paid in benefits.
- Only direct full or part time staff are included. That is, “Council, students, practicum, co-op placements or interns are exempt from living wage requirements“.
Levels of Certification
As managed by the Ontario Living Wage Network.
The SUPPORTER level indicates that all direct full-time employees are paid a living wage. Part Time staff are then phased in over time.
The LEADER level indicates all direct full-time and part-time employees are paid a living wage. The commitment is extended to phase in, over time, service contracts for third party externally Contracted employees that provide service on a regular basis (over 120 hours per year).
The CHAMPION level indicates that all direct full-time, part-time and externally contracted third party staff that provide service on a regular basis are paid a living wage or will be when applicable contracts are renewed.
The Town of Cobourg is currently at the Leader level and Colleen recommends applying for certification at that level. There are no cost implications. But Colleen says that “Management will be strongly encouraged on an on-going basis to enquire and support paying third party contractors a living wage.”