Vancouver to Become First Major City in Canada Certified as Living Wage Employer

Vancouver to certify as a Living Wage Employer

September 21, 2016 (Vancouver, BC) – Council has approved pursuing Living Wage Employer certification for all City of Vancouver employees and sub-contractors to be compensated at or above Metro Vancouver’s living wage rate of $20.64 per hour, including direct salary and certain benefits. 

“Vancouver’s economic growth is leading the nation, yet too many hard-working families are left behind due to affordability challenges,” says Mayor Gregor Robertson. “Becoming a certified Living Wage Employer sets Vancouver apart as a city that strives to ensure all families have the opportunity and economic security to thrive. A living wage will ensure that families of all backgrounds can afford to live and work in Vancouver, making our neighbourhoods healthier and stronger.” 

City staff will also seek endorsement and inclusion of applicable contracted services for living wage standard through the Park Board, and will encourage and support both the Vancouver Police Board and Vancouver Public Library to pursue Living Wage certification. 

Staff will pursue certification through the Living Wage for Families Campaign, a Vancouver-based organization that has already certified a range of employers, including Vancity credit union, the City of New Westminster, SAP and the United Way. The implementation process typically a few years for large employers, and will begin with direct civic staff before being extended to contract employees. 

City staff will report back on the certification process and an update on the analysis of Living Wage certification implications for other civic agencies by July 2017. 

Part of Vancouver’s Healthy City Strategy, Living Wage Employer certification re-affirms the City’s commitment to employees and wage earning contractors to earn enough to cover basic expenses such as rent, food, transportation, and child care. Mayor Gregor Robertson first called on Council to pursue Living Wage certification through a motion last July. 

Quotes from stakeholders in support of Council’s decision: 

Seth Klein, Director, BC Office for the Canadian Centre for Policy Alternatives 

“Today’s council vote is very good news. True, it’s been a long time coming, but now that the City of Vancouver is formally adopting a Living Wage policy, it is a very exciting development. Working poverty is a huge problem in Metro Vancouver; Metro Vancouver has the 2nd highest working poverty rate among large cities in Canada (8.7%), only slightly lower than Greater Toronto (9.1%). Simply put, in our great city, tens of thousands of families who work for low wages do not have the time to enjoy Vancouver’s amenities. They are too busy working multiple jobs and worrying about how they will pay the rent and feed their kids. Changing this reality requires a host of policy initiatives at all levels of government. But without question, having a major city government adopt a living wage policy is an important piece of the mix.”  

Deborah Littman, Lead Organizer of Metro Vancouver Alliance 

“At our Municipal Election Assembly in November 2014, Metro Vancouver Alliance asked mayoral candidates to commit to making the City of Vancouver a living wage employer for all directly employed and indirectly employed city workers. MVA is proud and excited to see that the commitment made that day by Vancouver Mayor Gregor Robertson is on its way to being fulfilled. MVA welcomes this report and looks forward to fulfilling our commitment to support the Mayor and Council in applying the living wage policy to all city staff. As a broad-based alliance made up of grass-roots faith, labour and community organizations, Metro Vancouver Alliance knows that every member of the community is affected by in-work poverty. We all have a stake in ending poverty pay."

Catherine Ludgate, Manager of Community Investment at Vancity credit union 

“We congratulate the City of Vancouver for taking this next progressive step in becoming a Living Wage employer. Putting more money in the hands of working families is one of the best economic development strategies we can employ, and an important way to help solve family and child poverty.” 

Michael McKnight, President & CEO, United Way of the Lower Mainland 

“Families are struggling to make ends meet. What used to lift families out of poverty – getting a job – isn’t always working either. There are 100,000 people who are living in the Lower Mainland who are working yet are living below the poverty line. A living wage helps families survive and thrive.  That’s why United Way of the Lower Mainland is a living wage employer and why we support the City of Vancouver in this important initiative.” 

Deanna Ogle, Campaign Organizer with the Living Wage for Families Campaign 

“The City of Vancouver is demonstrating real leadership in its move to implement a living wage for all city staff and contractors. There is momentum building around the living wage in BC with Parksville and Port Coquitlam recently passing living wage policies; joining the City of New Westminster, Quesnel and the Huu-ay-aht First Nations as local governments who have successfully implemented living wage policies. Implementing a living wage is a small cost for a big impact in the lives of low-wage workers and contractors who will breathe a little easier at the end of the month.”

Read the original press release

Read also:

CBC News: Fair pay or playing politics? Vancouver city council debates living wage

CKNW AM 980: Groups campaign for Vancouver living wage to reach all city worker

Vancouver Metro News: Vancouver one step closer to being a Living Wage Employer

Georgia Straight: City of Vancouver estimates it will cost more than #1 million to lift contractors’ employees to a living wage