living wage toronto

More than 50 companies in Toronto have signed on to pay their employees a living wage

It's become increasingly apparent in recent years that minimum wage isn't enough to live on for most people in big cities, not even those who work excessive amounts of overtime.

The Ontario Living Wage Network (OLWN), which calculates and tracks how much it costs on average to cover basic expenses in different communities, revealed in November that a Toronto worker would need to make just over $22 an hour to earn a "living wage."

Not to be confused with minimum wage, which is the legislated minimum all employers must pay, experts calculate living wage as the amount someone needs to earn per hour in any jurisdiction to cover expenses such as food, clothing, shelter, transportation, childcare, medical expenses, recreation and a "modest vacation."

Living wages do not account for retirement savings, debt repayment, home ownership, education savings or anything else not listed above save for "the smallest cushion for emergencies or hard times."

At present, the minimum wage in Ontario is $15 per hour — some seven dollars less than what the OLWN considers a liveable income for Toronto residents.

Critics have been calling upon government officials for years to boost minimum wages up to match living wages, but to no avail so far.

Fortunately, individual employers can take it upon themselves to mandate a base wage that allows workers not only to survive, but thrive in their cities of residence. If they meet the OLWN's criteria, businesses can even be awarded the designation of being a "certified living wage employer."

St. Catherines, Ontario, just became the second-largest municipality in Canada to earn this designation, followed by Victoria B.C. and preceded by Vancouver.

Impressed by the news out of St. Catherines and intrigued by the concept of certifying living wage employers, I checked out OLWN's directory to find that there are more than 50 of them right here in Toronto.

"Living Wage Employers recognize that paying a living wage constitutes a critical investment in the long-term prosperity of the economy by fostering a dedicated, skilled and healthy workforce," reads the network's website.

"Living wage employers sign a licence agreement and pay an annual employer certification fee. This fee helps the Ontario Living Wage Network to calculate the living wage, certify and recognize employers for their living wage commitment, and advance the living wage movement."

You can see map listing all of the living wage employers in Toronto or anywhere else in Canada on the website, but I've also taken the liberty of listing out all of the local companies that pay their employees a living wage below, 0rganized (roughly) from west to east.

  • Art & Water
  • Second Harvest
  • Demo For Your Reno Inc.
  • Sun Life Financial
  • FoodShare Toronto
  • Something in the Water Inc.
  • Riverside Natural Foods Ltd.
  • Modern Rascals
  • The Drop Distribution
  • Art Metropole
  • Barque Smokehouse
  • Sweetpea's Floral Studio
  • York Heritage Properties
  • Anandam Dancetheatre
  • The Stop Community Food Centre
  • The Greater Strategy Consulting Inc.
  • Superior Description Services
  • Studio Sophomore Inc.
  • Garden Party
  • Jackman Reinvention Inc.
  • Grape Witches Inc.
  • Malleable Jewellers
  • Emma's Country Kitchen
  • Canadian Roots Exchange
  • Beast Restaurant Inc.
  • Media Profile Inc.
  • Juno College of Technology
  • C Magazine
  • Stephen Lewis Foundation
  • Ontario Prevention Clinic / The PrEP Clinic
  • 32M
  • St.Clare's Multifaith Housing Society
  • BRL Realty Limited
  • The Canadian Council of Churches
  • Loretto Sisters Canada
  • Leith Wheeler Investment Counsel Ltd.
  • Toronto Arts Council/Toronto Arts Foundation
  • United Way Greater Toronto
  • Perkins&Will
  • Canadian Finance and Leasing Association
  • SvN Architects + Planners Inc.
  • Fair Trade Jewellery Company Ltd.
  • Fluency Digital Agency
  • Soul Chocolate
  • Grassriots Inc
  • Sugarmoon
  • Left Field Brewery
  • Red Tape Brewery Inc.
  • Culinary Tourism Alliance
  • Chimera Collective
  • O.O.S. Medical
Lead photo by

Jesse Milns at Soul Chocolate


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