Study Reveals $18.18 an Hour to be a Living Wage in Saint John

June 20, 2018

JUNE 20, 2018

(SAINT JOHN, NB)— In order to earn a living wage, a person working a full time, full year job in Saint John would need to be paid $18.18 an hour, according to a new report released today by the Human Development Council, in collaboration with the Canadian Centre for Policy Alternatives-Nova Scotia.

The Living Wage calculation reveals points of vulnerability for working poor families. In Saint John, the most costly element in the Living Wage budget is childcare, followed by food, shelter, and transportation. As part of this research, focus groups were organized with low wage workers to ground the analysis. Many of these participants affirm that when there are gaps between expenses and income, families are forced to make difficult choices:

“I feel like I always have to make a choice… the beginning of September is always a huge struggle… This year I even had to make a choice between student fees and, you know, books for my daughter”- Saint John Low Wage Worker, Focus Group Participant.

"Calculating a living wage allows us to consider the real life, real times costs of living and raising a family in this community and what can be done to narrow the gap between those costs and the income required to cover them,” says Christine Saulnier, Director, Canadian Centre for Policy Alternatives-Nova Scotia.

Dr. Saulnier also points out, “One of the purposes of calculating a living wage is as a call for employers to voluntarily pay a living wage to their employees. However, achieving a living wage also involves decreasing costs, many of which are best addressed at a societal level through social programs and public infrastructure."

“Everybody has a role to play in bringing the Living Wage to life” say Natalia Hicks, researcher with the Human Development Council. “Employers can step up and pay a Living Wage, knowing that in doing so they are directly reducing poverty, facilitating gender and racial equality, and promoting community engagement. Governments can, and must, implement accessible social policy that supports the working poor. And residents can shop ethically, and vote, particularly in the upcoming provincial election, for parties that have platforms promising to cut the costs of raising a family in New Brunswick.”


Saint John Living Wage 2018 by Natalia Hicks, is available for free download at,  

For more information or to arrange interviews, contact
Natalia Hicks
Saint John Human Development Council
[email protected]



Background: The study uses the Canadian Living Wage Framework to calculate the living wage for Saint John. It takes into account major expenses as well as taxes and transfers for families raising young children in Saint John based on a 35 hour work week for 52 weeks. This calculation ensures a standard of living that promotes well-being and social inclusion for the diversity of families in our community, including single parent families and unattached individuals. As a first in the Maritimes, the Saint John wage will be released alongside the wage updates for Halifax and Antigonish (to be released June 25th).


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


The Canadian Centre for Policy Alternatives is an independent, non-partisan research institute concerned with issues of social and economic justice.