A living wage can be good for business

Most business owners understand that there’s usually a payback when they devote more resources to their operations. But some might not realize that this also applies to the money they pay their staff.

Most business owners understand that there’s usually a payback when they devote more resources to their operations. But some might not realize that this also applies to the money they pay their staff.

The Central Alberta Poverty Reduction Alliance (CAPRA) is spreading the word that paying a living wage does more than enhance the lives of the recipients, it also brings benefits to the employer.

“Research shows that paying a living wage boosts productivity, reduces employee turnover, increases customer loyalty and improves corporate revenues,” said CAPRA in a release.

The local alliance, which consists of businesses, government, community agencies, contracted service providers and members of the community, hopes to drive home this message during a breakfast at the Sheraton Red Deer Hotel on Friday.

Dianna Souveny, who is a community facilitator with the City of Red Deer — a member of CAPRA — said about 50 people are registered for the breakfast. Most represent the business community, she added.

“There’s a lot of interest out there around it,” said Souveny of the living wage initiative. “I think hosting the breakfast and getting the information out there is a great way to increase that awareness.”

Research by CAPRA has indicated that Alberta’s minimum wage of $10.20 per hour, or $9.20 for those who serve alcohol, falls short of what’s needed for people to meet their basic needs. The “living wage” in Red Deer has been calculated at $14.75 for a single parent with one child, or $13.11 for each of two parents raising a pair of children together. And that wage covers only necessities, and not things like savings for retirement or loan payments.

Souveny said Friday’s breakfast will feature presentations by “living wage champions” — employers who strive to pay their staff enough money to live a dignified life.

“We’re hoping that by them sharing their story and how it has benefited them as an employer, that that will not just increase awareness but get other people on side and help them to see why this is a good thing, not just for the employees but for the employer.”

CAPRA has already sent information out to many local employers that describes the importance of paying a living wage.

“CAPRA believes that most employees would pay their employees a living wage if they knew what it means to the quality of life for their staff, as well as to the community. We want to get the message out that it has tremendous benefits for business too.”

There are still a few spots available for Friday’s breakfast, but Souveny said she would also be happy to arrange for representatives of CAPRA to meet with an employer to discuss the importance of paying a living wage. She can be contacted at 403-342-8102 or dianna.souveny@reddeer.ca.

hrichards@bprda.wpengine.com

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