Halifax Living Wage Report 2015 now released!

June 1, 2015

By Brett Maletic

Today was the much-anticipated press release for Halifax Living Wage 2015; a research report developed by the Nova Scotia Office of the Canadian Centre for Policy Alternatives (CCPA) and the United Way. Introducing the report were two panelists: CCPA’s Nova Scotia Director, Dr. Christine Saulnier, and Max Chauvin,‎ Chair of the Opportunities Council and Co-Chair of the Homeless and Affordable Housing Partnership (United Way). Saulnier and Chauvin shared that this report, a critically-important lens into the economic realities of our society, is really just the beginning of a long-overdue conversation. By sharing some of the highlights of the new report, one of the key themes that emerged was the way in which a living wage in Halifax (calculated at $20.10 per hour) could potentially offset the severe social cost that many families in HRM have to endure. This is one of the many ‘hidden’ costs of living below the poverty line in our country; ultimately the cost of being excluded from the basic tenets of social interaction. These include things like recreational activities, music lessons, school supplies, or even simply being able to send your child to a birthday party with a gift.

Saulnier and Chauvin demonstrated how a much-needed shift in how we view income levels is what could ultimately make the difference between a family’s hopes for the future or a slow, downward spiral into financial disrepair. Sharing some ‘first-voice’ perspectives of local HRM families, the panelists explained how some parents – despite working full time hours – are forced to skip meals at times so that their children can have enough to eat. The truth is that this tragic (and avoidable) state of affairs is so widespread that approximately 1/7 of the households in Nova Scotia that use food banks are already trying to survive on the earnings a full-time job.

Dr. Saulnier went on to explain that 40% of children living in poverty in Nova Scotia belong to families with at least one full-time/full-year earner. This, in itself, demonstrates just how vitally important it is for our city to be engaged in the income conversation. Deeply engaged. But it was also pointed out how, despite beliefs to the contrary, private businesses could actually benefit from supporting a living wage for their employees.

Dr. Saulnier referred to the fact that a properly paid staff…is a staff that sticks around! She cited how mental health, company morale, and an overall sense of wellness are things that go hand-in-hand with the implementation of living wages, and that this has been proven in other communities that have made such a progressive step forwards. The fact that employees who earn a living wage often report less sick time and have less employment turnover rates means that businesses, ultimately, experience fewer costs in training and make-up time. Furthermore, the benefits of healthy employees, combined with a stronger business organization, ultimately leads to improved community wellness.

A “new benchmark” of income technology, as Saulnier and Chauvin put it, is ultimately what our city – and our province – needs. A vibrant, healthy new level at which to set the bar for our hard-working citizens and for our public and private sectors. After all, we all want to be part of a progressive future. So let’s invest in our strongest asset we have; our social infrastructure, and let’s forge a new way into economic prosperity. Let’s do this.

You can access a copy of The Halifax Living Wage 2015 here: