The updated Living Wage for 2017:
Clear example of policy lowing cost of living for families
Charles Plante, PhD (ABD)
The living wage for Saskatoon in 2017 is $16.19 per hour for a person working a minimum of 35 hours a week.
This is the minimum amount employers need to pay their employees to ensure they can be healthy, productive, and support themselves and their families with confidence. Setting wages below this amount is likely to result in reduced productivity, absenteeism and turnover.
Unpacking this year’s living wage
This year’s living wage has actually gone down by forty-one cents from last year’s living wage of $16.66.
The living wage is calculated based on costs of living, taxes and government benefits, all of which can change from year to year. In this blog post, I’d like to talk about what developments have had the biggest impact on this year’s calculation.
Costs of living have gone up considerably from last year for the representative family that we use to calculate the living, by more than $1400. The biggest increases were in the family’s food budget, which has gone up by $269, and shelter budget, which has gone up by a whopping $798 annually.
However, these increases in costs of living have been offset by the introduction of the Canada Child Benefit (CCB), which our family qualifies to receive. Crucially, the CCB is far more generous than the family benefits that it replaced. Our family will receive $2300 more from the federal government this year than they did the year before.
Of course, the impact of the CCB will not be the same for households without children. In fact, one of the groups of Canadians most vulnerable to poverty is older individuals that are without children and living alone.
Reducing the costs of doing business
The drop in the living wage between this year and last year directs our attention to the impact that public investments can have on the costs of doing business.
Whether governments invest in income supplements, as in the case of the CCB, or in-kind supports like affordable access to health care and education, these provisions lower how much employees need to earn to realize the same standard of living, and so provide businesses with more room to maneuver.
In-kind public investments can often make the biggest difference. For example, living wage researchers in Vancouver have calculated that the introduction of affordable $10 a day child care in their community would reduce their local living wage by over $3!
It should not surprise any of us that it costs money to live and succeed in today’s society. If employees don’t earn enough, they can’t contribute as much, to the businesses they work for, and to the communities they live in.
At the end of the day, we all benefit when every employee in our community earns a living wage, and we all have an interest in investing in solutions that ensure this becomes a reality.
 The CCB pays out $6,400 per year for each eligible child under the age of six, and $5,400 per year for each eligible child aged 6 to 17. This amount is reduced as earned family income rises. In the case of our family, it decreases at a rate of 13.5% as their income rises from $30,000 and $65,000.
Smart business owners know that their success depends on the success of their team.