Vancouver’s ‘living wage’ a smart choice

What does a living wage mean written on a paper with notes attached stating: birthday gifts, security, dentists

"A living wage policy nudges up wages and benefits for the many contract employees in cleaning, parking, hospitality and food services."

Post originally published in the Vancouver Sun, October 22, 2016

Re: City’s ‘living wage’ means higher taxes for little benefit, Opinion, Oct. 13

Vancouver’s ‘living wage’ a smart choice

Prior to the passage of a U.K. Factory Act in 1847, which limited child labour to 10 hours per day, opponents maintained that such legislation would harm the very young it was designed to help. If children were denied additional work hours to boost family income, they argued, then all their little siblings would risk deprivation and hunger.

The Fraser Institute continues this grand tradition of contrived arguments in explicating the “collateral damage” if businesses contracted by the city were required to pay a living wage. As the late Canadian economist John Kenneth Galbraith opined, “The modern conservative is engaged in one of man’s oldest exercises in moral philosophy; that is, the search for a superior moral justification for selfishness.”

Larry Kazdan, Vancouver

 

A living wage policy nudges up wages and benefits for the many contract employees in cleaning, parking, hospitality and food services. What we traditionally see, especially with corporate operators in those sectors, is high incomes at the top and workers’ incomes as low as they can be squeezed. These are usually minimum wages far below what an individual or family can live on.

Low wages and poverty are aligned with poor health, and hungry schoolchildren. Kudos to large organizations like VanCity and the Canadian Cancer Society, which adopted living wage criteria for their contractors delivering cleaning and food services. As the City of Vancouver has done, contractors were given plenty of notice to start paying a Living Wage. And contractors and the market adjusted.

Mae Burrows, Burnaby

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  • published this page in Blog 2016-11-22 11:40:54 -0800