By ANSON WONG
When Mark and Mandie Murphy started their business venture, they decided to pursue their love of baseball in the form of a brewery. Now, eight years later, East Toronto’s Left Field Brewery is celebrating its commitment to paying a livable wage to the people who work there.
“Wages make up a considerable portion of our operating costs and so this decision was not one that was taken lightly,” Mandie Murphy said.
The Ontario Living Wage Network congratulated the brewery for joining its list of more than 350 organizations that provide its employees a livable wage. The OLWN calculated the cost of living in Toronto to be a pay of $22.08 an hour
“There’s a difference between minimum wage and livable wage,” Murphy said. “A minimum wage is what the province expects you to pay, a livable wage is what is needed to live comfortably.”
The 22 employees at Left Field Brewery are making at least $22.08 an hour.
“We have always felt that the brewery only succeeds if the wages support a happy and healthy lifestyle,” Murphy said.
For its owners, paying employees enough to live comfortably has been essential since its founding. The high cost of living in Toronto makes it difficult to survive independently on minimum wage, Murphy said. Left Field Brewery also provides its employee’s dental and medical insurance.
With the COVID-19 pandemic, the brewery has taken a significant income loss. The taproom that could house dozens of people enjoying beers was closed to avoid spreading the virus People can still buy beer online or by visiting in person for takeout.
By the very nature of the business, serving, selling and making beer at a brewery are not jobs that can be easily done remotely.
“Unfortunately, a lot of our positions require workers physically present,” Murphy said.
Several measures were taken to follow safety rules. Production was modified to allow workers to be six feet from each other. Masks were also mandated even before the pandemic, Murphy said.
“We have shifts where people come into the brewery and work what they can before doing the rest at home,” Murphy said.
One way that Left Field Brewery has adapted during the pandemic is through home delivery. Dropping off beer that has been ordered online by customers presents no risk of contact compared to drinking at a bar.
With the challenges and economic stresses the pandemic has put on everyone, having a living wage is even more important than ever before.
“Survival came only as a result of the hard work of our team, the unwavering support of the community and the good fortune of being deemed an essential business,” Murphy said.
For more information on Left Field Brewery, which is located at 36 Wagstaff Dr. in the Greenwood and Danforth avenues area, and how to order beer online for delivery or pickup, please go to https://www.leftfieldbrewery.ca