By Graeme McNaughton/The Oshawa Express
Many residents know the feeling of living paycheque to paycheque. Others put in hours upon hours of work every week, but are still behind on their bills.
So how much does it cost to live in Durham Region? One group is looking to find out.
Community Development Council Durham (CDCD) will be touring the region this summer to find out just how much it takes in order to live here.
“No one working full-time should be living in poverty. It’s a very simple idea, but unfortunately it doesn’t always work that way,” Georgia Luyt, a community developer with CDCD, said during the study’s launch.
“Unlike a minimum wage, which is mandatory, a living wage is voluntary, and it’s something an employer can commit to make. It’s different to each community because the cost of living is different in each community. We know that the cost of rent, the cost of transportation, the cost of food has been going up quite a lot over the past few years, and unfortunately that hasn’t been matched by increases in the minimum wage.”
Ontario’s general minimum wage is currently $11.25 per hour, and is set to go up to $11.40 in October.
Durham Region will not be the first part of Ontario to undergo such a study. Earlier this year, the Niagara Poverty Reduction Network released a report that calculated the Niagara Region’s living wage at $17.47 per hour. According to the study, this is the amount needed for a family of four, with two adults above the age of 35 both working full-time, to meet basic needs such as housing, buy food and provide transportation, participate in “the economic and social fabric of their community” such as recreational activities, and purchase items that can help them “escape marginal subsistence,” such as school supplies and household items. This number, according to the report, contains no extravagances and does not allow families to save for their children’s post-secondary education.
The study was applauded by both of Oshawa’s MPPs –NDP’s Jennifer French and Progressive Conservative Lorne Coe.
“This is a special opportunity for us. Durham is always at the cutting edge and leading when it comes to our community and when it comes to fairness,” French said.
“We as a community are going to be richer for it.”
“What’s clear in all of this…in this project is that we want Durham as great as it possibly can be, and this is the type of work that my colleague Jennifer French and I strive to do on a day-to-day basis,” Coe said.
“We must never forget that we have people living among us that are not as fortunate as others.”
CDCD plans to release its report on the living wage for Durham Region in the late fall.