A new study says the living wage in Saskatoon is significantly higher than the provincial minimum wage.

Today, the Saskatoon Poverty Reduction Partnership released a study that said workers need to make a minimum of $16.77 an hour to live modestly in Saskatoon.

The study looked at how much a typical family of four would need to spend on housing, food and clothing in a month, and then assessed the wage from there.

"It's the amount an employee needs to earn in order to live healthily, and ultimately be a productive employee," said study co-author Charles Plante.

 "If people are earning less than $16.77 an hour, they're unable to be as productive as they might be." -  Charles Plante, study co-author

The livable wage calculation is more than $6 more than the current minimum wage in Saskatchewan of $10.50 an hour.

"It ultimately ends up being more of a recommendation," he said. "What we're really trying to underscore is that if people are earning less than $16.77 an hour, they're unable to be as productive as they might be."

Bottom line

Other than benefiting employees, Plante argues that paying a living wage benefits companies as well. The group released a companion document called The Business Case for a Living Wage in Saskatoon.

The study said employees who are paid well are less likely to be absent and less likely to seek other employment. The study says companies's profits improve after paying employees more.

"There's a growing body of research showing that a lot of businesses in Canada and the United States are paying their employees (more)," said Plante. "Not for their employees sakes, but for their own sakes."

One Saskatoon company has been paying its workers a living wage for several years.

The Better Good now pays its employees a wage of $18 an hour. Originally, they were paying employees $15 an hour, but increased it after hearing stories from employees.

"I was hearing on a daily basis about their lives, about the decisions they were making, about money, about the challenges that they had," said store owner Laura Neufeld. "I knew, from each of them, how they weren't making enough money."

Since making the change, Neufeld said all of her staff has stayed on, which is very unusual in a retail business. 

"They have a different outlook about their job now," she said. "It's more of a career-based job, because they're being paid that way."

For a link to the report, click here.