A Family Living Wage in Manitoba

This is an excerpt from an article originally published by the Canadian Centre for Policy Alternatives.

Families who work for low wages face impossible choices—buy food or heat the house, feed the children or pay the rent. The result can be spiraling debt, constant anxiety and long-term health problems. In many cases it means that adults in the family are working long hours, often at two or three jobs, just to pay for basic necessities. They have little time to spend with their family, much less to help their children with school work or participate in community activities.

The frustration of working harder only to fall further behind is one many Canadians can relate to. CCPA research shows that most families are taking home a smaller share of the economic pie despite working longer hours, getting more education and contributing to a growing economy.

A living wage is not the same as the minimum wage, the latter being the legal minimum all employers must pay. The living wage sets a higher standard—it reflects what earners in a family need to bring home, based on the actual costs of living in a specific community. The living wage is a call to private and public sector employers to pay wages to both direct and contract employees sufficient to provide the basics to families with children.

The 2016–17 Living Wage for Winnipeg is $14.54/ hour; for Brandon it is $14.55 and for Thompson it is $15.28. This is the amount needed for a family of four with two parents working full time to cover basic necessities, support healthy development of children, escape financial stress and participate in the community. This report is an update from the last calculation in 2013.

Read the full report on living wages in Manitoba here.