Community Development Council Durham
Monday: 8:30 a.m. – 4:30 p.m.
Tuesday: 8:30 a.m. – 4:30 p.m.
Wednesday: 8:30 a.m. – 4:30 p.m.
Thursday: 8:30 a.m. – 4:30 p.m.
Friday: 8:30 a.m. – 4:30 p.m.
Given changes in the regional labour market from high paying manufacturing jobs to service-oriented positions that are characterized by low pay, low benefits, variable hours and job insecurity, the living wage program is especially important to the economic and social health of the Durham community. A living wage in Durham would provide increased economic stability for employees, and help to reduce inequality in the Region.
The steady decline of automotive production (marked, above all, by the collapse of employment in Oshawa’s GM assembly plants) and the associated loss of employment in Durham’s automotive feeder plants show the broad retreat of manufacturing work as well as the erosion of Durham’s traditional base of good jobs.
This long move away from manufacturing production has been met by the increase of service sector employment. The expansion of the Durham population has seen, for example, additional employment opportunities in health services. It has also led to public sector investment in the Lakeridge Health Corporation. Moreover, the gradual diversification of the economy has been the extension of the regional education network. The continued expansion of Durham Collage, coupled with the opening of UOIT in 2003, has not only provided a host of new career opportunities for local residents but improved the local stock of analytic, synthetic and symbolic knowledge skills. This growth in the educational sector has helped push forward new innovative investment and employment. Aided by local organizations such as the Spark Centre, Durham Region is now home to a growing technology sector.
Yet the manufacturing decline has also, and perhaps more importantly, been linked to the extension of more precarious forms of service employment. This has meant that the economic and personal security associated with high paying manufacturing jobs has been replaced with nonstandard forms of employment characterized by low pay, low benefits, variable hours and job insecurity. This shift has contributed significantly to the growth of inequality in certain pockets of Durham Region.
Later in 2021, there were some positive improvements on the labour market as well. Amazon constructed two fulfillment centers (one in Whitby and one in Ajax) and the GM Oshawa Assembly Plant resumed producing trucks, both of which brought additional jobs to the area.
Given these longstanding changes in the regional labour market, the living wage program is especially important to the economic and social health of the Durham community. A living wage in Durham would provide increased economic stability for employees, and help to reduce inequality in the Region. In other words, the living wage stands, in part, as a counter tendency to the loss of manufacturing sector employment and offers a foundation for the creation of a new base of good jobs.
Compared to 2017, the annual household costs for a family of four increased by 12% in 2021.