How Did the Living Wage Get Started in BC?

In 2006 First Call: BC Child and Youth Advocacy Coalition began to explore the realities of low-wage poverty. This came out of their work on child poverty and recognizing how many poor children were living in homes where at least one parent was working full-time, full-year.

In spring 2007 First Call co-sponsored a research project with the Canadian Centre for Policy Alternatives (CCPA) to calculate living-wage baselines for Vancouver and Victoria. This joint research group included representatives from the University of BC's sociology department and Human Early Learning Partnership (HELP), the Victoria Social Planning Council, United Way of the Lower Mainland and BC’s Hospital Employees' Union (HEU). In September 2008, First Call and the CCPA released their research report Working for a Living Wage.

The Hospital Employees' Union launched its Living Wage Campaign in 2007 in part to address the poverty wages and unsafe working conditions for health care workers employed by multinational corporations that had secured multimillion-dollar, taxpayer-funded contracts to provide services in BC hospitals and long-term care homes.

In fall 2008 First Call, the CCPA-BC and HEU established a living wage advisory committee to oversee campaign strategy, and in 2009 funds were raised for a campaign organizer.

Campaign successes

2010: The Living Wage Employer recognition process is established. More than 50 employers signed up as Living Wage Employers employing over 6,300 direct staff and hundreds more contracted workers.
2011: The City of New Westminster became the first municipality to certify as a Living Wage Employer.
2011: Vancity Credit Union signed on as a Living Wage Employer.
2011: BC Federation of Labour and Canadian Labour Congress conventions endorsed living wage campaigns by unions and labour councils and encouraged the support of the Living Wage for Families Campaign.
2015: Huu-ay-aht First Nation became the first First Nations government to become a Living Wage Employer
2015: The City of Vancouver committed to becoming a Living Wage Employer.
2016: The City of Port Coquitlam became the fourth local government in BC to commit to paying a living wage to all direct and contracted staff.

Why we started this campaign

Watch this 30-minute video featuring Seth Klein of the Canadian Centre for Policy Alternatives-BC to find out the reason we focus on the family of four, the relationship between the living wage and public policy, and the way the calculation was established.