CFIB asks small businesses to reconsider United Way donations after report

The Canadian Federation of Independent Business is asking its members to reconsider their charitable donations to the United Way, after a new report states Halifax's living wage at double the current minimum wage.

Business group criticizes United Way's involvement in living wage report

Jordi Morgan, the Atlantic Canada vice-president of the Canadian Federation of Independent Business, says small businesses may no longer donate money to the United Way after its involvement in a living wage report. (CBC)

The Canadian Federation of Independent Business is asking its members to reconsider their charitable donations to the United Way, after a report was published Monday that pegs Halifax's living wage at double the current minimum wage.

"If you're a small business, do you support the United Way playing an advocacy role for a $20 minimum wage?" asked Jordi Morgan, the federation's Atlantic vice-president.

The report released Monday estimates Halifax's living wage to be $20.10 per hour. The document describes living wage as a measure of the actual costs to live and raise a family in a specific community.

The report was prepared by the Canadian Centre for Policy Alternatives and commissioned by the United Way of Halifax at a cost of $23,000.

The president of the Canadian Federation of Independent Business criticized United Way for its involvement in the economic report.

Officials with United Way said they're happy with the report's results, but aren't advocating for any wage changes.

"We certainly have not begun to advocate for small businesses or any businesses to pay a living wage," explained Sue LaPierre, director of strategies and partnerships with United Way.

"What we advocate for is a good quality of life for our citizens."

Sue LaPierre said the United Way has not begun advocating for a living wage to be paid out by small businesses. (CBC)

The report does call for a voluntary doubling of hourly wages from the current $10.60 per hour to $20.10 per hour for businesses that can afford it.

"Their labour bill won't go up as much as they think," said Christine Saulnier with the Canadian Centre for Policy Alternatives. "In the end, they may gain customers, which will help them."

The CFIB's position is that businesses would pay employees more if they could afford it.

"All businesses would like to pay their employees more," said Morgan. "They make these decisions based on their business model.… If a business isn't making money, then it isn't a business."

Neither United Way, the CCPA nor the CFIB have heard of any businesses changing their donation strategies since the report was published.

Last year, United Way of Halifax collected $5.59 million in fundraising revenue from various sources.

About the Author

Brett Ruskin

Reporter/Videojournalist

Brett Ruskin is a reporter and videojournalist covering everything from local breaking news to national issues. He's based in Halifax.

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