Everyone deserves decent wages—2020 living wage rates for Nova Scotia and New Brunswick

September 2, 2020

HALIFAX and SAINT JOHN—In order to earn a living wage, a person working a full-time, full-year job must earn $21.80 in Halifax, $19.55 in Antigonish, $17.65 in Cape Breton, $16.80 in Bridgewater and $19.55 in Saint John, according to a new report released today by the Canadian Centre for Policy Alternatives’ Nova Scotia office and the Saint John Human Development Council.

“The living wage calculation raises questions about the need to address low wages, including the minimum wage, which is $12.55 in Nova Scotia and $11.70 in New Brunswick—well below the living wages in any community,” says report co-author Christine Saulnier, CCPA–NS Director and the lead for the calculations in Nova Scotia. 

“But this is not all on employers. Government policies and programs have a direct impact on our standard of living. Many people face the benefits cliff: when they earn a bit more money they lose access to subsidies that made their life more affordable. We need to move away from those kinds of programs into services that ensure universal access, decreasing barriers for everyone to access pharmacare, dental care, mental health care or child care.” 

According to report co-author Chelsea Driscoll, Social Researcher at the Human Development Council in Saint John: “One of the most expensive costs for families is child care. It is the most expensive budget item in Saint John, and the second most expensive item in the Nova Scotia communities. Clearly, governments need to do more to support families—in both provinces only some families get access to small subsidies, and most cannot find the care they need in a market-based patchwork of programs, even if they can afford to pay for that care."

Suzanne Macneil, President of the Halifax Dartmouth District Labour Council, says this of the report: “The CCPA’s living wage calculations are important because they give us a fact-based view of what it costs to live and to participate in the life of our communities. Keeping us all safe and healthy during a global pandemic means going a lot deeper than just 'staying the blazes home.' It means supporting workers and our families with the conditions to live healthy, dignified lives. In order to do this, we need to have a clear understanding of what it costs to house, feed, clothe and care for ourselves.”

Wyanne Sandler, Chair of the Antigonish Poverty Reduction Coalition, says: "Once again the living wage calculation demonstrates the huge gap between what people earning minimum and what people actually need to live with dignity and be fully included in our communities. In particular, in a university town like Antigonish, we continue every day to see the impacts of the lack of affordable housing. From women staying in unsafe and unhealthy situations to families sacrificing recreational opportunities for their kids, we know that the lack of affordable housing options constrains people's choices and opportunities." 


For more information and to arrange interviews for Nova Scotia, contact Christine Saulnier, Nova Scotia Director, CCPA, at (902) 240-0926 (cell) or [email protected].

For New Brunswick please contact Chelsea Driscoll, Social Researcher, Human Development Council, at (506) 799-2317 or [email protected].

The Living Wage for Nova Scotia and New Brunswick report will be available on the CCPA website and the SJDHC website as of 10 a.m. (AST), September 2. 

The Canadian Centre for Policy Alternatives is an independent, non-partisan research institute concerned with issues of social and economic justice. Founded in 1980, it is one of Canada’s leading progressive voices in public policy debate. The CCPA is a registered non-profit charity and depends on the support of its more than 10,000 supporters across Canada.

The Human Development Council identifies and addresses social issues in Greater Saint John through research, information, coordination and networking.