City is currently paying some of its staff the minimum wage

By Pepper Parr

December 4th, 2021



When budgets are put together there is the opportunity to get a closer look at all the wheels and cogs that make the city work day to day.

We learned last week that 47% of the cost of running the city is on the Human Resources side and that in this budget there was an expense of $40,000 to cover the cost of the provincial legislation that raised the minimum wage effective January 1st.

One of the Councillors asked why that amount was necessary and learned that the city has staff who are earning just the minimum wage.

City Manager Tim Commisso

City Manager added that it was people working part time, mostly students doing parks and recreation work or sprucing up the flower beds in the medians and working in the summer Parks and Recreation summer camp programs.

For a city that adds the phrasing “Burlington is a City where people, nature and businesses thrive” to every media release they put out the admission that people are paid that bare minimum has to be at least a little embarrassing.

There wasn’t a word from any member of council on ensuring that the city do better.

Director of Human Resources Laura Boyd

One can’t thrive on the current minimum wage; the new one ($15. an hour) won’t help much.

It was appropriate for both the City Manager Tim Commisso and the Director of Human Resources Laura Boyd to commit themselves  to ensuring that the city would always be above the minimums before they were forced to be by the province.

We didn’t hear that last week.

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3 comments to City is currently paying some of its staff the minimum wage

  • Penny Hersh

    When I sat on the Board of Directors at the Burlington Seniors Centre it came to my attention that most of the city employees working in the building were on monthly contracts and were paid minimum wage. By having these contracts the city did not have to pay these employees benefits.

    Over the years that I was involved the cleaning staff during the day was cut. This resulted in a definite decline in the cleanliness of the building. Office staff that worked with the seniors were constantly being sent to other city facilities. There was no continuity.

    This was a new policy that demanded that any city office employee could be sent to work in any city facility. I don’t know if this is still the case, but it was a failure. The employees never really got to fully understand any one city facility and in the case of the senior centre if a member ( there was a yearly membership fee associated with attending classes – the only city facility that had this fee) would be dealing with one office employee only to find out that the employee only worked at the centre 2 days a week or had been sent to another city facility.

    The City rents out the building for private functions and for church services and over the weekend and evenings some students were hired. There was no manager on staff and consequently the work was not properly done. I can remember many times when the weekday staff would have to re-clean the rooms before classes could take place.

    I agree that people need to be paid a minimum wage. However, raising the minimum wage seems to result in employees being terminated or employers not hiring additional employees. Low cost child care would go a long way in helping out families where both parents need to work.

    As for taxation, I disagree with our Mayor. Keeping property tax lower by using Reserved Funds is not a long term solution. Eventually as the saying goes “you can’t borrow from Peter to pay Paul”. If residents are not prepared to give up some of the services to lower the tax rate, then we should pay for these.

    Residents make choices every day when it comes to budgeting, why should it be different for Municipalities.

  • Jim Thomson

    Back when I was a student, I was happy to get a minimum wage job during the summer.
    It’s the law of supply and demand. Too many students not enough summer jobs. Therefore minimum wage.
    No need for Burlington to pay above market price.

  • Margaret Riley

    It is admirable that the Gazette (or anyone) advocates to increase those who are paid at the legislated minimum wage level so that all City employees are paid above that minimum threshold. I certainly agree if any business can afford to pay above the minimum it definitely should.

    However what interests me is how the Gazette and those others who often comment here & rail against any increase in the property tax rate reconcile that position with increasing the City’s wage bill which would likely need to be funded by increasing the tax rate.