‘If we can do it, you can do it’: Why some Ontario non-profits are boosting their lowest wages to $18 an hour — or more.

Many of the organizations listed as ‘living wage employers’ by the Ontario Living Wage Network are non-profits or charities.

Why It Matters

The reputation of some social service organizations for paying low wages is at odds with a mission of alleviating poverty.

At the start of 2021, the lowest paid staff member at FoodShare Toronto, a food security non-profit, was making $15 an hour — above the provincial minimum wage, but nowhere near enough to afford rent and other essentials in Toronto. 

Shortly after Paul Taylor, FoodShare’s executive director, was hired in 2017, the organization reviewed its pay grid and bumped the bottom rung by 25 percent, while the top three ‘bands’ on the pay grid didn’t change at all. Then, in May, FoodShare Toronto announced it would pay a minimum wage of $22.08 an hour, the estimated ‘living wage’ for anyone living in the Toronto area. Months later, FoodShare bumped their minimum wage again to $24/hr.

Katie German, FoodShare Toronto’s director of advocacy and programs, says the non-profit’s decision to bump its pay rates was about practicing what it preaches. “It’s a commi

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