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.
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.
Download a high resolution map of living wages across BC
Living wages in BC
The Living Wage for Families Campaigns works with 21 communities across BC who have calculated their local living wage.
The living wage is defined as a regional calculation that looks at the amount that a family of four needs to earn to meet their expenses. The living wage includes costs like rent and groceries as well as items like extended health care and two weeks' savings for each adult. It does not include debt repayment or savings for future plans.
For Metro Vancouver and Victoria rent is the highest expense in the living wage calculation but in the Fraser Valley child care is the highest expense that families face. A regional calculation allows communities to identify policy advocacy that would positively impact poverty in their community.
The Living Wage for Families Campaign calculates the Living Wage for Metro Vancouver and certifies employers across BC. The map above also includes other communities who have calculated their living wage using our calculation. If your community does not yet have a living wage calculation, see this video for a one-hour webinar that explains how the Metro Vancouver living wage is calculated and how you can adopt this methodology to use in your own community.
Living wages in Canada
More and more communities across Canada are taking action in response to this country’s increasingly high levels of low-wage poverty. Why? They want everyone to afford the basic necessities of life, to live with dignity and to actively participate in their community – they want a living wage.
The online site Living Wage Canada supports this national living-wage movement through facilitated learning and information-sharing. The site’s Canadian Living Wage Framework provides a consistent living wage definition and calculation methodology, and a strategy for recognizing corporate and community leadership who commit to passing a living wage policy.