How Did the Living Wage Get Started in BC?

History of Living Wage for Families BC

In 2006, Campaign 2000 initiated a two-year project called Addressing the Falling Fortunes of Young Children and their Families: A Community Building Approach. First Call Child and Youth Advocacy Society was the Vancouver partner for this project. 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 Community Social Planning Council of Greater Victoria, SPARC BC, United Way of the Lower Mainland and the Hospital Employees' Union (HEU). In September 2008, First Call, the CCPA and the Community Social Planning Council of Greater Victoria 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 strategy, and in 2009, funds were raised to hire an organizer employed by First Call. With the guidance and support of the advisory committee members, the Living Wage for Families campaign developed a certification program that, over the following 14 years, certified hundreds of employers who committed to paying their direct staff and many contracted workers a living wage.

In the fall of 2022, First Call ended their operation of the certification program and Vancity Community Foundation began operating it.

Campaign successes

2010: The Living Wage Employer recognition process was established.  
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: The 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: School District 69 - Qualicum became the first Board of Education in BC to certify as a Living Wage Employer. 
2016: The City of Port Coquitlam became a certified Living Wage Employer.
2017: The City of Vancouver became a certified Living Wage Employer.
2020: The cities of Victoria and Burnaby became certified Living Wage Employers.
2022: Living Wage for Families BC has certified over 350 employers, impacting over 30,000 direct staff and countless contractors.
2022: Vancity Community Foundation assumes operations of a living wage employer certification program from First Call Child and Youth Advocacy Society