Health Unit Pushing Employers to Join Living Wage Program


The Windsor-Essex County Health Unit is urging local employers to join its Living Wage Program.

The health unit started the campaign in 2018 and public health nurse Holly Janisse says the uptake has been good, but they'd like to see more businesses get on board.

The newly calculated 2020 living wage for Windsor-Essex is $15.52 per hour — that's up from 2019's $15.15.

Janisse told AM800's The Afternoon News that paying employees a living wage has many benefits.

"When an employer pays their staff members at least a living wage they're making a statement about the values that drive their business, their commitment to their employees and their involvement in their community," she says. " When an employee feels valued and they're better able to make ends meet it leads to things like improved productivity."

The health unit defines a living wage as the hourly rate at which a household can meet its basic needs with two adults working full-time.

Janisse says a living wage is just what's needed to get by.

"At $15.52, it's still a bare bones budget with no extras, all those extras that we take for granted. So there's little or no room for unforeseen expenses. So it doesn't consider things like debt repayment, retirement savings, cost of home ownership or children's education, anything like that," she says.

Janisse says, at this point, nearly 30 employers are on board.

"They can be considered a Windsor-Essex County certified employer if they're paying their employees, full-time and part-time, the current living wage rate," she says. "We have 29 employers taking part in the program and this year we do hope we see more and more interest coming with the living wage program."

Janisse adds about 9% of our region's working population is considered "working poor" — meaning families are working, but struggling to handle day-to-day needs.

CLICK HERE to find more information about the program.


With files from Patty Handysides