Study reveals $18.85 an hour is a living wage in St. John’s

May 7, 2019

(HALIFAX, NS/ST.JOHN’S, NL)—In order to earn a living wage, a person working a full time, full year job in St. John’s would need to be paid $18.85 an hour, according to a new report released today by the Canadian Centre for Policy Alternatives’ office based in Nova Scotia.

“We learned from workers in St. John’s just how hard it is to make ends meet when you earn low wages, cannot get sufficient work hours, are constantly stressed about the next contract, don’t get access to benefits, and struggle to pay for all the necessities including rent, heat, food, let alone the essentials for families with children,” says report author Christine Saulnier, who is CCPA’s Director of the office in Nova Scotia.

Religious Social Action Coalition Spokesperson Reverend David Burrows notes, “The living wage calculation raises questions about the need to address low wages, and also what can be done to lower costs. What can our community do to bridge the gap between what people make and what it really takes to live that restores people’s dignity?”

As Sherry Hillier, President of CUPE Newfoundland and Labrador says, “Having the living wage calculated for St. John’s provides us with an important locally-tested, evidence-based benchmark as we bargain for fair wages. This is an important tool for the labour movement’s continued efforts to advocate to improve the standard of living for everyone in St. John’s.”

“This report shines a light on the need for Newfoundland and Labrador to begin the move to a living wage—we have almost 70,000 workers in this province who earn less than $15 dollars an hour, the majority of which are women.  If a minimum wage worker wanted to earn the equivalent of a living wage in St. John’s, that individual would have to work at least 58 hours a week,” said Newfoundland and Labrador Federation of Labour President Mary Shortall. 

“Employers who pay higher wages see the benefits through lower turnover, higher productivity, a better work environment and workers who are more engaged in their community as well as their workplace,” says Shortall.

Paying a living wage is a voluntary commitment that employers can make to directly compensate their employees. However, as the living wage calculation shows, the more generous government transfers or public services, the less the private wage has to be to cover costs. For example, if universal child care at $10/day was available, the living wage could be as much as $3 less per hour. As it stands, our calculations show that thresholds for tax credits, income transfers and subsidy programs are too low and phase-out quickly.  


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

The Living Wage for St. John’s, Newfoundland and Labrador report is available for download from the CCPA website.

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.