Meridian Credit Union Ltd. is supporting its employees’ financial wellness by guaranteeing wages of at least $23.15 per hour.

The pay rate — which is the Ontario Living Wage Network’s minimum hourly pay recommendation for the Greater Toronto Area — takes effect this week and applies to employees across the province, says Jay-Ann Gilfoy, Meridian’s president and chief executive officer.

The guaranteed wage is part of the organization’s wider diversity, equity and inclusion strategy to address issues like housing affordability and financial resilience, she adds. “Part of my mandate as CEO is to ensure we’re living our values and not just focusing on the bottom line. . . . We’ve always paid competitively, but we know the pressures in Canada, especially in some of the markets we’re in, related to the cost of living.”

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While this pay rate is geared towards GTA-based employees, Gilfoy notes cost-of-living challenges don’t stop at geographic boundaries. “Our employees sometimes move around and I couldn’t stand up in front of the employees and explain why someone in Toronto gets paid more than someone in Hamilton, [Ont.] or Barrie, [Ont.] We decided to make it simple — the living wage is really the minimum and many of our roles pay more, but we wanted a consistent floor with all of our employees.”

The guaranteed wage is also supporting Meridian’s employee attraction and retention efforts amid ongoing labour market challenges. “We assess risk every quarter and talent is one of our biggest risks,” says Gilfoy. “People have choices about where they can work and we need people to be in our branches and on the phones with members, so we want to make sure that we’re as competitive as we can be and supporting employees in their needs.”

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