Tom Cooper, director of the Hamilton Round Table for Poverty Reduction and coordinator of the Ontario Living Wage Network shared the history of the Living  Wage (LW) concept and its beginnings in Baltimore in the 1990's. Here in Hamilton there are 30,000 families experiencing poverty despite working. 1 out of 2 children in poverty today in Hamilton have a parent who is working, but yet remain in poverty. The concept is that by raising the wages to a "living" wage individuals can more easily pay for housing, food, child care, transportation etc. It is a win/win situation as individuals win by earning a higher wage, they spend the money in the local economy so it grows, and the company retains its employees longer, as evidenced by research done on Costco (a LW employer) versus Walmart (not a LW employer) in the States. Here in Hamilton the LW is $14.95 and ranges across the Province due to housing costs, from $14.10 in Windsor to $18.52 in Toronto. The concept of paying a living wage is spreading and Tom noted that the HWDSB, under Jessica's leadership , was the first LW employer in Hamilton! There are now 30 others in Hamilton (e.g. Diocese of Niagara and St Matthew's House, Mustard Seed Company) and about 100 across the province.  For more information you can visit the website at www.livingwagehamilton.ca . And remember a phrase Tom shared with us that he had heard. "If I couldn't live on minimum wage, why do I think my employees could?"
 
 
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