By Courtney Bachar/The Oshawa Express/LJIReporter
Pathwise Credit Union has become the first certified living wage employer in Durham Region, having been recently certified by The Ontario Living Wage Network in Durham.
Founded in 1938, Pathwise Credit Union is an innovative full-service financial institution. Chief Executive Officer Chris Inniss says everyone deserves a path to financial success, which he says is one of the company’s core beliefs.
Having worked at other banks in the past, Inniss says he knows first-hand the struggles some of those employees face having to work a high-demand job at a low wage.
“We see in banking, a teller may make between $15 and $16 per hour, that’s below the living wage, so really they’re not able to be financially independent,” says Inniss. “There has to be money coming from somewhere or they have to make a choice between things for their children, shelter, food, clothes for work… so it was important for us to make sure we’re putting our money where our mouth is for our employees to have the money they need for their basic needs,” he adds.
Pathwise currently employs more than 60 full-time and part-time staff operating out of its two branches – one in Oshawa and one in Bowmanville – with an entry level position set at $24.25 per hour.
“There’s a short period of time where they work up to that amount, but that’s the rate they cap at,” says Chief Experience Officer Lindsay Temple.
“We want to make sure our employees aren’t concerned about making a choice between feeding their children or paying their rent. We want them to be able to focus when they come in to work, on enjoying the workplace, and then being able to enjoy their time at home with their families,” she adds.
According to Pathwise, a living wage reflects what earners need to be paid based on the actual costs of living and being included in the community, and is not the same as the legislated minimum wage, but rather, a voluntary commitment that employers can make to compensate directly employed and contract-employed full-time and part-time workers.
The living wage for Durham has been calculated to be $17 per hour.
“We have always been a living wage employer, but now have the opportunity to formalize it and challenge others to do the same,” says Inniss. “Since 1938, our credit union was founded on the principles of fairness and equality for workers. We believe that everyone deserves a path to financial success and that includes our employees, vendors and members.”
Inniss says even though they are the first in Durham Region, there may be others out there that want to be a living wage employer, or already are and aren’t being recognized for it and he wants them to reach out.
“It’s a lot easier than people realize to become a certified living wage employer,” says Temple.
She explains employers can start at stage one as a supporter, which means all full-time employees would be paid at the $17 mark. In the second stage employers become a leader, which means all part-time and full-time employees are paid at that rate, and the champion is the third stage, which is what Pathwise is, which means all employees – full-time, part-time and students – are paid that living wage, as well as its third-party providers such as cleaning services and caterers.
“We challenge any employer who want to, to become a living wage employer with us,” says Inniss.
Employers who are interested in becoming Living Wage certified can contact the Ontario Living Wage Network for more information at www.ontatiolivingwage.ca.