HALIFAX, NS/CHARLOTTETOWN, PEI—In order to earn a living wage, a person working a full time, full year job in Charlottetown would need to be paid $19.30 an hour, according to a new report released today by the Canadian Centre for Policy Alternatives’ office based in Nova Scotia.
With the addition of Charlottetown, living wages rates have been calculated for all Atlantic provinces, which further helps us understand the differences between the provinces and communities of varying sizes and rurality in our region, and how to support low-waged workers.
“The living wage is calculated at a level to ensure that workers do not struggle to pay for all their household necessities including rent, heat, food, as well as essentials for families with children such as child care,” says report author Christine Saulnier, who is CCPA’s Director of the office located in Nova Scotia and the lead for the calculations in the Atlantic region.
As Saulnier further explains, “More needs to be done to help address the three highest cost items in the living wage budget: shelter, food and child care. Paying a living wage is a voluntary commitment that employers can make to directly increase the wages of their employees. However, the living wage calculations show that the more generous government income supports and public services are, the less reliant people have to be on their private wages and less pressure on employers. There are many gaps in public services and the thresholds for tax credits, income transfers and subsidy programs are too low, phase-out quickly, have too many strings and stigma attached.”
Mary Boyd, of the MacKillop Centre for Social Justice and the PEI Coalition for a Poverty Eradication Strategy, co-sponsors of the report, states, “The living wage calculation shows why it is so important to address low wages, including the minimum wage, and also the urgent need to lower costs, including by investing in universal public services by for example expanding child care and public health care.”
Alyse Rossiter, a single mom of three kids ages 9,8 and 4, living in Charlottetown, shares that, “As a parent I have struggled to provide my children with the essentials they deserve. I am fortunate to work full-time, however if I didn’t have access to programs and supports like subsidized housing and child care, I would not be able to make ends meet. While I am very appreciative of the subsidies, there is stress involved because if I lose my employment I lose the child care subsidy, which would result in losing my child care. So many jobs are temporary and it means lots of disruptions in our lives. Earning a living wage would help us enjoy a quality of life, but we would also still need government support and public services.”
Bill Campbell, an Island affordable housing advocate, made the point that, “It is not surprising that the most expensive cost in the budget is for shelter and that it takes up 25% of the budget. Charlottetown’s median rent has increased by 27% over the last 10 years. In addition, the living wage budget does not consider what rental units are actually available, where they are located and what condition they are in. It is critical that our governments continue to invest in non-profit and social housing that will remain affordable because without any rent control any new rentals are not guaranteed to be affordable.”
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 Charlottetown, PEI report will be available on the website as of midnight AST, November 2nd.
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.