‘Living wage’ policies gain ground in Canadian cities

by Vins
Published: Last Updated on

Some 30 employers and business representatives in Hamilton, Ontario – including the public school board and the Chamber of Commerce – have signed pledges to pay workers a living wage. Hamilton City Council is now preparing to debate in 2016 whether or not the city will make itself a “living wage city employer.” This would affect people who work directly for the City of Hamilton as well as those who are contracted to work for the city. If the policy is adopted, Hamilton would be the second Ontario city, after Cambridge, to adopt a living wage policy.

Nationwide, the first Canadian living wage city was proclaimed in 2011 by the City of New Westminster, B.C., which pegged the region’s living wage at $CD 20.68 per hour. According to anti poverty groups a living wage in Hamilton is $14.95 per hour. The concept of living wages has gained steam in the United States, where several cities have adopted policies to raise their wages above the poverty line.

The original story was published on Rabble.ca, an independent news website. This story is highly relevant in that rising income inequality has become a major issue throughout North America, specifically the issue of whether wages are keeping pace with the cost of living.


Tom Cooper, “Hamilton city by-election puts living wage in the spotlight,” Rabble.ca, March 15, 2016. http://rabble.ca/blogs/bloggers/behind-numbers/2016/03/hamilton-city-byelection-puts-living-wage-policy-spotlight

City of New Westminster, “Living wage employer,” http://www.newwestcity.ca/business/living_wage_employer/living-wage-policy-and-declaration

Student researcher: Michael Joel-Hansen (University of Regina)

Faculty supervisor: Patricia W. Elliott (University of Regina)