Fair Wages Commission

Top 6 takeaways from their report.

After waiting nearly five years, the Government quietly published the third Fair Wages Commission report last week.

It was supposed to examine the differences between the minimum wage and the living wage, and produce recommendations for how to close the gap between the two. Here’s some things the report highlighted…

1.) The minimum wage is an amount set by government, whereas the living wage is what someone needs to actually live off of. 

The Living Wage takes into account real costs, local scenarios, and benefits provided by Government. Ok, so we may have already known this - but this table was very helpful to show how valuable the living wage is:


2.) For workers in Metro-Vancouver, there’s an $8.43 hour gap between the legal minimum you must pay a worker, and what they need to live off of.

It used to be even bigger but increases to the minimum wage and government benefits helped close that gap. Unfortunately, it’s growing again….
graph on minimum vs living wage
(The minimum wage increase in June meant that this gap has now lowered to $7.33 – but it’ll probably grow again when the new living wage is published in November 2023)

3.) Low wage workers are really struggling and have to make all sorts of sacrifices to make ends meet.

"I've been paid the same wage for six years. I don't have a phone, internet - just basic TV."

"[I pay for] rent, food, medication. The things I forgo is telephone, internet."

"Internet is very expensive, but it's a necessity now. Ten years ago, I didn't need internet for anything, five years ago some, now everything. I lost some of my immigration documents; I found an advocate to help me out through the internet."

The report found that low wage workers are more likely to be disproportionately women, historically marginalized, recent immigrants and those employed in non-union jobs. 

Indigenous people living in Canada are overrepresented in low-wage and non-standard employment compared with their non-Indigenous counterparts. The Indigenous and non-Indigenous wage gap needs to be addressed with respect to access to employment opportunities as well as income.

4.) Workers, employers, and community groups all shared the positives of paying a Living Wage.

The most interesting employer to talk about the positives of a Living Wage was The City of Vancouver...

Living Wage quote from the City of Vancouver

Since the interviews for the report took place, The City of Vancouver opted out of remaining a Living Wage Employer. We hope day they can look back on their own words and rejoin the program. 

5.) The New Zealand Government ensures that all its cleaning, catering and security guard contractors earn a Living Wage.

Wouldn’t it be amazing if the BC Government and the Federal Government did the same?

6.) This is the last Fair Wages Commission report

Despite the overwhelming evidence on the importance of a Living Wage, the Government has decided there will be no more Fair Wage CommissionThey also haven’t published a response to the report, or their plans on what they’ll do to close the gap between the living and the minimum wage.

Instead of burying reports, and cancelling commissions, now is the time for government ministries to come together to develop an action plan on how to lower costs and increase incomes. With the cost of essentials like food and rent continuing to rise, the Government needs to take serious action to help low wage workers. 

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  • Anastasia French
    published this page in Blog 2023-08-22 15:42:47 -0700