Why the new minimum wage is still not a living wage

On Monday 1 June 2020, the minimum wage for workers across the province increased. However, there are still thousands of families in BC who are living below the poverty line because they are not earning a living wage.

Care home workerThe new minimum wage

On Monday June 1 2020, the BC Government increased the minimum wage for employees in British Columbia to $14.60/hour, the third of four planned increases to bring minimum wages up to $15.20/hour by June of 2021.

This will help nearly 150,000 of the lowest paid people in BC. 93% of minimum wage workers are in the service sector including retail and food service, many of whom will be doing frontline work during Phase 2 of Covid19.

BC’s living wage

As calculated by the Living Wage for Families Campaign, the wage needed for a family of four in Metro-Vancouver with two parents working full-time to pay for necessities, support the healthy development of their children, escape severe financial stress and participate in the social, civic and cultural lives of their communities is $19.50/hour.

The living wage rate varies across the province, as communities differ when it comes to their cost of living. For example, while some communities may have lower housing or child care costs, others may have lower-cost public transit or easier access to goods and services. Find out the living wage in your area.

A minimum wage vs a living wage

An adequate minimum wage is the government’s responsibility to address working poverty. However, a living wage is an opportunity for employers to do better.

A living wage calls on employers to meet a higher standard for both their staff and major contractors, to ensure that wages reflect the true costs of living in a community and that parents can earn what they need to support their families.

A living wage for essential workers

During the current pandemic, many essential workers, such as supermarket workers, care home staff and delivery drivers, are putting their health at risk to support our society and they are still not earning enough to ensure their family can live without chronic financial stress.

We recognize at this time that many businesses and organizations, large and small, are struggling at this time and finding it difficult to make long term plans and commitments because of the uncertainties. Others are not as affected and are able to make the commitment to pay living wages to their employees and contractors.

The current crisis is shining a light on the heightened vulnerabilities of low wage workers and others in precarious employment, as well as highlighting the crucial role they play in the safety and well-being of our families and communities.

As we work our way through this crisis and plan for a recovery, we encourage all employers to recognize the importance of paying living wages to reduce income inequality and create a healthier, more resilient society for future generations.

Join the campaign

The Living Wage for Families Campaign has certified over 160 Living Wage Employers in BC to date, and we welcome other employers in the province to join this movement. Join the campaign today.