A graphic word cloud that includes the words living wage, salary, finance, income, pay, workers, payment, labour, business, employment, and others.

The Canadian Centre for Policy Alternative released its latest report on living wages in Nova Scotia this morning.

This year, CCPA-NS includes new living wage calculations for five economic regions: Annapolis valley (Annapolis, Kings, and Hants counties); Cape Breton (Cape Breton, Inverness, Richmond and Victoria counties); Halifax (Halifax County); Northern (Antigonish, Colchester, Cumberland, Guysborough, and Pictou counties); Southern (Digby, Lunenburg, Queens, Shelbourne, and Yarmouth counties). You can read the complete report here. 

In the Halifax region, the new living wage is $22.05/hr. That’s up from $21.80/hr. Meanwhile across the province, living wages are $21.30 for the Annapolis valley, $18.45 in Cape Breton, $19.20 in the Northern region, and $21.03 in the Southern region. The current minimum wage in Nova Scotia is $12.95/hr.

The report notes  that the three most costly items in all five of the regions are shelter, food, and child care, which when combined make up 60% of budgets in each region. The report noted, however, that shelter costs in Halifax do not reflect the rentals currently available on the market because the data for the report is from October 2020.

A breakdown of the costs for a living wage in Halifax. Graphic: CCPA-NS

The introduction of the report notes that low wages in many sectors in Nova Scotia, including food service and accommodations, means, “workers are left living to work instead of working to live.”

Many continually seek ways to fill gaps left by inadequate income, whether by visiting food banks or community suppers, or seeking other community supports that provide discounted or free goods and services. Workers must work very long hours, often at multiple jobs, leaving little time to play with their children or to consider up-skilling through additional education or training. When people live to work they have no time for community activities which impacts our collective vitality. Everyone deserves to have a decent job that supports them to live, have quality time with their friends and family, some leisure time, and time to recharge — which also allows them to be their best at work.

Paying a living wage is part of the just recovery that needs to happen. In one of the largest sectors of low wage workers, employers in food and accommodation services have difficulty finding labour, but this is more about a shortage of workers willing to work at the current wage rate and job conditions.

The CCPA-NS report also breaks down the increase costs in Halifax and Cape Breton from 2020 to 2021, which explain the increases in the living wage in those regions:


Cape Breton:

The living wage is calculated to show how much a household must earn to cover all necessities, such as shelter and food, while also allow families to enjoy a decent quality of life. The calculation follows the the Canadian Living Wage Framework and is based on an example of family of four with two parents working full-time (35 hour each week).

Living wage amounts don’t include credit card or loan payments, savings for retirement, life insurance, home ownership costs such as property taxes, home maintenance and repairs, or costs associated with a child or adult family member who has disabilities or serious illness.

In Halifax, living wage employers include Adsum House, which has paid its staff a living wage since 2016, Cyclesmith, which started paying its staff a living wage in September, and Coverdale Courtwork Society, which also started paying its staff a living wage in September.

Click here to read the complete report from CCPA_NS.

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Suzanne Rent

Suzanne Rent is a writer, editor, and researcher. You can follow her on Twitter @Suzanne_Rent

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  1. An unfortunate part of the problem is the lack of financial literacy.

    A lot of people work for what they think are good wages, when really they are not. We will have an entire generation relying on government to survive in retirement – not because they didn’t save, but because they couldn’t.

    That will mean massive taxes later because of private sector excess. Some sectors like restaurants can’t pay a living wage, but they could very likely pay a variable component quarterly depending on profitability.

    It will also mean less jobs, but better quality jobs. Small business owners may not be able to expand as fast which will slow growth, but ultimately should reduce the number of people living in poverty.