Brewery announces its support of living wage initiative

This article originally appeared on on June 24, 2016 by Brent Cooper


MUSKOKA - A Muskoka company has committed itself to giving its employees a ‘prompt’ way to earn a living in the region.

Muskoka Brewery and the Poverty Reduction of Muskoka Planning Team – known as PROMPT- announced at a press conference Friday morning the company had become Canada’s first brewery to commit to a living wage for its employees.

“Living wage is a call to action, and an achievable poverty reduction strategy, one that we are very proud to support,” Muskoka Brewery president and founder Gary McMullen said in front of a press conference on the brewery’s front steps. “We recognize that not all employers can jump into certification right away, but we can all do our part one step at a time. We look forward to working with the community and local government to continue to make positive change here in Muskoka.”

Different from the minimum wage, a living wage is based on the principle that full-time work should provide families a basic level of economic security above the poverty line. 

The living wage calculation includes the cost of living in the local community and social inclusion. The result is a decent quality of life and the ability to live healthier lives. 

PROMPT and Muskoka Brewery have joined forces to launch Muskoka’s living wage initiative to create “a better standard of living for the people in Muskoka and to educate local employers on the benefit for community, businesses and workforce,” according to a press release issued at the press conference. 

PROMPT is made up of individuals and families, as well as representatives from various community groups working to raise awareness and address issues related to poverty in Muskoka.

Kelly Watson, the director of people and development at Muskoka Brewery and a member of PROMPT’s living wage committee, said the company has been slowly implementing the wage initiative for about one year now.  

“It’s been a great journey. We have been really excited to go forward with this ... we have been making some changes with our employees’ wages as we have gone. Not only is this about our employees, it is about giving back to the community. We are celebrating our 20th anniversary this year, and it is really great to be able to contribute not only to the community but also to support the hard-working people who work for us,” she said.

Watson said that with the living wage initiative, all employees would have the opportunity to eat healthy and to live a life less stressful.

“What that means from an employer prospective, is that you have healthy employees and healthy employees are productive employees, and they are happy employees, and happy employees are engaged employees,” she said.    

PROMPT’s living wage committee will announce Muskoka’s living wage rate early this fall, according to a release handed out on Friday. In the interim, officials with both the advocacy group and the brewery said they would be happy to hold discussions with community representatives, municipal governments and employers about the principles and impact residents can have by embracing a living wage.


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