The Town of Grimsby is focusing on the financial future of all its residents.
At the Sept. 5 council meeting, councillors voted to suspend procedure and tackle Coun. Jennifer Korstanje’s notice of motion right away, rather than waiting until the next meeting.
Her lengthy motion, created in partnership with Trinity United Church’s social action committee, sought to ask all levels of government to get behind looking into establishing a guaranteed livable income program.
“With the vision in mind of goodness, diversity, abundance, generosity and welcome, we acknowledge that there’s also deep needs in our community,” Korstanje said as she read a statement from the committee. “Some of us are struggling with the rising cost of living. Some of us are struggling to find housing that is affordable and safe. Some of us are wondering whether we can get by on one less meal a day. Some of us are wondering what bills we can afford to pay this month … the economies of all of our lives are connected, whether we realize it or not. And when some of us are struggling, all of us struggle.”
As part of the preamble to the motion, Korstanje noted that a livable wage in Niagara has been determined to be $19.80, but that is $6,000 below the annual income of a minimum wage employee.
“At the current Ontario minimum wage rate, a person working 37.5 hours per week will earn approximately $2,500 monthly (before tax), and the median rent for one bedroom in Grimsby as of August 2023 is now $2,000 a month,” she said.
She also noted that organizations such as the Grimsby Benevolent Fund have seen dramatic increases in need.
Most councillors agreed with the heart of the motion, with Coun. Jacob Baradziej asking for it to be sent to trade and labour unions as well.
Coun. Veronica Charrois asked if they could add a piece requesting for a response from MPP Sam Oosterhoff and MP Dean Allison within 30 days.
The living wage piece for the Town of Grimsby was not originally part of the motion, but came as a friendly amendment from Coun. Nick DiFlavio.
“I love the resolution. I think it’s phenomenal. But if we’re not actually doing anything as a town, then (what are we doing),” he said. “I’d like to take it a step further and say, what can the town of Grimsby do to make this happen?”
After his comments, it was directed that town staff should “undertake a comprehensive assessment to explore the feasibility and implementation of a living wage policy for all Town of Grimsby employees, with the aim of ensuring that all municipal workers receive fair compensation that aligns with the principles of a living wage and that staff be directed to explore becoming a living wage employer.”
Abby Green, Local Journalism Initiative Reporter, Grimsby Lincoln News