Living Wage Kingston

“The costs of New Westminster’s living wage policy are estimated to be less than a quarter of 1 per cent of the city budget. A survey of 20 cities with living wage policies in the U.S. found costs tend to be less than one-tenth of 1 per cent of city budgets. Since the costs of a living wage are usually only a small part of the total costs of doing business, the cost impact is usually modest or negligible. Several studies conclude that where living wage policies are applied to city contracts, the costs of the contracts did not rise much, and sometimes declined. Contract bidding remained competitive or improved. Living wages can also lead to more efficient provision of public services.

In contrast, the cost of low wages is high. Low pay means less money circulating in the community to buy goods and services from local businesses and to pay taxes for social services. Low pay means stressed-out parents taking on multiple low-paying jobs and more hours of work to make ends meet. To do this, they sacrifice time with their children and opportunities to take part in community activities. Children in poverty tend not do as well in school or socially. After they grow up, they suffer more job insecurity, unemployment and health problems.

Low wages and poverty also mean higher health care costs. More educational services, food banks, housing programs, and other public services are needed. Policing costs can go up. All of those costs have a much higher, long-term impact on municipal budgets. They can also deter businesses from investing in the local economy. “


Prof. Donald Wells, Political Science, McMaster University