Efforts to get more Alberta employers to pay their employees higher wages — or at least a living wage — appear to be paying off.
A Living Wage is a regional calculation that looks at the amount of money a family of four (two adults working full time) needs to earn to meet their expenses and support the healthy development of their children.
The Alberta Living Wage Network, which launched the Alberta Living Wage Employer program last November, told Global News that 34 employers have already signed up.
“We are very encouraged by the (initial) response from employers in our province, and we are hopeful that the numbers will increase significantly in the months and years to come,” said group president Franco Savoia.
Employers who have already joined come from a variety of industries, including retail, grocery, industrial and professional organizations. Most of them are in Calgary (14) and Edmonton (14) and a few others are spread across the province.
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Calgary cleaning company Home Spritz is one of the employers to officially commit. It has offices in Calgary and Edmonton as well as in the Vancouver area and employs approximately 22 people. He said paying his cleaning contractors a living wage is a win-win situation.
“It supports everyone’s quality of life,” COO Yeonsil Kang said, “with no one left behind.”
Kang co-founded the company three years ago, making it more of a marketplace platform. Cleaners are vetted and selected, but are not considered employees per se, but rather contractors.
She said she found the partnership, in addition to paying them a living wage, resulted in respect and success.
“It’s really helpful for us to hire better cleaners,” Kang added. “The retention rate is very good. They end up staying with our customers longer, and that makes our customers happy.
“We’re just trying to pay enough for them to support their families.”
Kang said that as an immigrant, she knows how difficult it can be to build a life in Canada and she wanted to make it easier for others.
Dione Livingstone, a cleaning contractor, said it certainly made her life easier, adding that before working for Home Spritz it was a challenge.
“You are just succeeding. You are just succeeding,” she said. “You can make ends meet, but it’s hard.”
Now, Livingstone said depending on the job, she could make up to $40 an hour. Home Spritz takes 18% of the total cost of any job, but she gets the rest.
“Now I earn the same amount of money as if I cleaned independently, which makes it easier for me to live.”
She added that because she is an entrepreneur and not an employee, she can also choose her own hours, which makes her ideal for single mothers or people who choose to work part-time.
“It made a huge difference. I can do what I like. I can do what I deserve.
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According to the Alberta Living Wage Network, the living wage varies from region to region in the province.
In Calgary and Edmonton, it was $18.60 and $18.10 in 2021. But in places like Cochrane and Canmore, those numbers have risen to $22.60 and $37.40, respectively, while living wage reached $27.35 in Fort McMurray.
Home Spritz said it adjusts contractor wages based on region. Kang added that it cost the company but also allowed it to grow.
“Although we take smaller margins, we can always expand into a larger region for that to happen.”
The company is now targeting expansion in Canada and North America over the next five years.
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