Study Reveals $20.10 an Hour to Earn a Living Wage in Halifax

June 1, 2015

HALIFAX, NS—In order to earn a living wage, a person working a full time, full year job in Halifax would need to be paid $20.10 an hour, according to a new report released today by the Canadian Centre for Policy Alternatives–Nova Scotia, in partnership with United Way Halifax.

The study, Working for a Living, Not Living for Work, uses the Canadian Living Wage Framework to calculate the living wage for Halifax. It takes into account major expenses as well as taxes and transfers for families raising young children in Halifax 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.

“We learned from low-wage workers that the living wage calculation reflects the reality of what it costs to live a quality of life in Halifax and just how difficult it is to do so with insufficient income,” says co-author Mary-Dan Johnston, CCPA-NS Research Officer. “The living wage is still a conservative figure that doesn’t include expenses such as debt repayment, retirement savings beyond CPP, life insurance, mortgage payments or savings to own a home.”

United Way Halifax interim CEO, Rustum Southwell, noted the calculation of the living wage provides information to spark discussion about the costs of living and raising a family in our community. “United Way is very interested in hosting conversations and using this information to make Halifax a great place to live.” He added “The research raises questions about what can be done to lower costs and what other ways our community can support families to have a great quality of life. United Way is focused on the gap between what people make and what it really takes to live and what we can all do to bridge it.”

“This wage level has been proven to increase productivity, decrease turnover, and allow workers to fully contribute, in the workplace and beyond,” commented report co-author Christine Saulnier, CCPA Nova Scotia Director. “Paying a living wage is a voluntary commitment that employers can make to directly compensate workers. 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 we capped child care fees at $10/day, our living wage could be as much as $3.55 less per hour.”

The study is released in advance of this week’s Community Conversation on the Living Wage for Halifax, hosted by United Way Halifax and the Canadian Centre for Ethics in Public Affairs. This panel discussion will be held on Thursday June 4, 7pm at the Peggy Corkum Music Room, 6181 Lady Hammond Road, Halifax. The panel will be moderated by Graham Steele, with panelists Sobaz Benjamin, iMOVe; Jordi Morgan, Canadian Federation of Independent Business; Lars Osberg, Dalhousie University; and Christine Saulnier, Canadian Centre for Policy Alternatives-Nova Scotia.


Working for a Living, Not Living for Work, is available for download on 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.

United Way Halifax is an influential voice for community change through public policy and courageous leadership. With a proven record that extends beyond funding, it is a valued partner on homelessness and affordable housing and a catalyst for neighbourhood renewal. It is at the centre of a cultural shift toward healthy active lifestyles. Founded in 1925, United Way works with community partners to build sustainable solutions for the future while also supporting services to improve lives today.

For more information, please contact:

Carole McDougall, Director of Communications, United Way Halifax 902-461-3082 (office) 902-412-5780 902-499-3054 (mobile).

Christine Saulnier, Nova Scotia Director, CCPA, 902-240-0926, [email protected]