Yellowknife residents need to earn roughly $20 an hour to meet the living wage in the city, according to a consultant based out of Alberta.
Michel Haener delivered her report to a handful of residents at the Baker Community Centre Thursday.
A living wage is defined as the hourly amount of earnings a family needs to cover basic expenses – such as food, rent, transportation and childcare services. It does not take into account additional expenditures including debt and entertainment.
While NWT employers are obligated to pay their staff the territory’s minimum wage of $12.50 an hour, the living wage is more of a guideline, and reflects what earners need to make based on the actual costs of living in a specific community.
For a two-parent family living in Yellowknife with two children, Haener says each parent would need to have a full-time job paying $20.68 per hour to earn a living wage.
As expected, that figure becomes larger if there is only one income in the family or if there are more dependents.
For instance, while the living wage for a single adult is $19.91 an hour in Yellowknife, a single parent with one child would need to pull in $25.81 an hour.
Haener says hundreds of families in Yellowknife could be impacted by earning a live wage. Approximately 1,700 people living in the city earn between $13 and $19.99 an hour – with a majority working in the service, food and retail sectors.
A number of local groups, including Alternatives North, believe the cycle of poverty can be broken for full-time workers if they’re paid a living wage.
Municipalities across the country have joined the movement. Supporters say it can lead to improved staff retention and productivity as well as lower recruitment and training costs.