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Living Wages

Event to Recognize Living Wage Employers

2015 Living Wage Employer Recognition Evening

Kitchener - Eighteen employers will be recognized for their commitment to pay a living wage to their employees at an event on Thursday evening November 5, 2015, from 5 – 7 pm at the Cambridge Conference Centre. The event is being hosted by Living Wage Waterloo Region, which is celebrating its first anniversary as a voluntary recognition program for employers paying a living wage.

The updated calculation of the living wage rate for Waterloo Region for 2016 will be released at the event. Rosemary Smith, CEO of The Kitchener and Waterloo Community Foundation, will provide the keynote address. Smith, a past President of both the Greater Kitchener Waterloo Chamber of Commerce and the Cambridge Chamber of Commerce, will make an argument for employers in all sectors to pay the living wage. She led the initiative to make the Community Foundation a living wage employer because, as she says, “we are committed to making Waterloo Region a better place to live, work, and raise a family, and we see supporting the living wage program as one way to make this a reality.”

Living Wage Waterloo Region recognizes employers who voluntarily choose to pay their employees a living wage. There are five levels at which employers can join, starting at the Friend level where employers explore how many of their employees are currently paid a living wage and what it would take to increase wages, all the way to the Champion level where all full-time and part-time employees, sub-contracted workers and students are paid a living wage.

More than 600 people work at Waterloo Region’s eighteen recognized Living Wage employers. In the first year of the program, more than 90 workers have seen an increase in pay as a result of their employers’ commitment to pay a living wage.

House of Friendship is one of the employers who will be recognized as a Living Wage Leader on November 5th. As a multi-service community agency, House of Friendship provides programs in supportive housing and shelter, addictions treatment, food security, and community development. “If we really care about the people in our community,” explained John Neufeld, House of Friendship Executive Director, “we have to treat the people who work for us well.”

Cambridge’s Grosche International is another local Living Wage employer. “One of our core beliefs and values as a company is that work should lift a person out of poverty, and not leave them there,” says Grosche’s President, Mehreen Sait. “We are proud to be a Champion and supporter of the Living Wage movement across Canada.”

The living wage rate is the hourly wage a worker needs to earn to meet their basic needs and participate in the life of community. The local living wage rate is calculated based on the cost of living in Waterloo Region. The Living Wage sets a higher standard than the minimum wage, which is at its current rate is too low to lift full-time workers above the poverty line. The 2015 Living Wage rate in Waterloo Region is $16 an hour. The 2016 Living Wage rate will be announced at the November 5th event.

Waterloo Region is part of a growing number of living wage communities, including Hamilton, Windsor, Toronto, and Guelph-Wellington. There are more than 50 recognized living wage employers across Ontario. Alberta and British Columbia also have Living Wage Employer programs with dozens of recognized living wage employers. The Living Wage Foundation in the UK has more than 1,600 accredited living wage employers.

Waterloo Region’s Living Wage Employer Program is open to all employers in the private, non-profit, and public sectors. Information about the program can be found at www.livingwagewr.org.

Guest Speaker: Rosemary Smith, CEO, The KW Community Foundation

When: Thursday, November 5, 2015

Time: 5pm to 7pm

Where: Cambridge Conference Centre, 700 Hespeler Rd., Cambridge

Free parking is available and light refreshments will be served.

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