Sudbury organization promotes benefits of a living wage

The Sudbury Workers’ Education and Advocacy Centre (SWEAC) wants people to know how a living wage can benefit workers.

Living wage benefits employees and employers says director

Panelists discuss impact of living wage at event Monday night. (Shutterstock/Casper1774 Studio)

The Sudbury Workers' Education and Advocacy Centre (SWEAC)  wants people to know how a living wage can benefit workers.

Executive director Scott Florence explains that the living wage is the hourly wage a worker needs to earn to cover basic expenses and participate in their community.

He adds that many people know all too well that minimum wage is not enough to live on.

To mark the start of Living Wage Week in Ontario, SWEAC is hosting a panel discussion on Monday, Nov. 4 from 7 to 8:30 p.m. at the Sudbury Indie Cinema Co-op at 162 MacKenzie Street.

Panelists include Dana Wilson from Public Health Sudbury & Districts to discuss the impacts of wages and health, and Fionna Tough from Sudbury Shared Harvest to talk about the connections between wages and food security. A panelist will also share their own lived experience as a low-wage earner. 

Florence says his organization works with many low-wage earners, people whose jobs are unstable and people from vulnerable populations. He explains that "most people end up having to have two or sometimes even three jobs in order to make ends meet. The work is uncertain, the work is unsteady, and that adds extra stress in people's lives." 

He adds that when people earn more, they have better peace of mind, more money for taking care of basic needs and emergencies, and they do better overall.

Different cities, different wages

Florence says there are several case studies demonstrating how well-paid employees are more productive. He adds that a handful of companies in the region have already registered as living wage employers and are certified by the Ontario Living Wage Network.

Each region has to do its own living wage calculation because costs differ from city to city, he says. While minimum wage is $14 per hour, the living wage in Sudbury is currently calculated at $16.98 per hour. Florence says "that's $3 more than minimum wage to actually cover your costs and be able to engage in the community here."

Florence invites both employers and employees to attend the panel discussion to learn how a living wage can benefit them.

SWEAC is an organization of workers, students, and community volunteers whose mission is to improve the lives and working conditions of workers in Sudbury. It was incorporated as a non-profit organization in August 2013.

With files from Angela Gemmill


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