Mayor Gregor Robertson announced on June 29 that he will be putting forward a motion for the City of Vancouver to become a living-wage employer.
In a statement from the mayor’s office, Robertson said this week he will be requesting that Council explore steps necessary for the municipal government to achieve certification as a living wage employer by the Living Wage Campaign.
“Vancouver has one of the strongest economies of any city in Canada, but too many families are struggling to make ends meet,” said Mayor Robertson in a statement. “Full-time work should provide families with a basic level of opportunity and economic security.”
Existing living wage employers include the City of New Westminster, Vancouver City Savings Credit Union, SAP and the United Way.
“All of the parties in the municipal campaign wanted to move in this direction so I’m hoping it’ll get unanimous support,” said Councillor Geoff Meggs. “In Canada, I think we would be the first of the larger cities to do it.”
The motion will be further discussed and debated at council’s finance and services meeting on July 8. Deanna Ogle, organizer of the Living Wage for Families Campaign and co-chair of Metro Vancouver Alliance’s Income Justice team, said that a rally will also be held in front of City Hall in support of the motion. Around 60 to 80 from trade unions and community organizations are expected to attend.
“What they’re going to have to do is look at how many staff they have that are not making a living wage,” said Ogle. “[They will] then look at what the increase of bringing them to a living wage would be.”
Ogle said the City will have to take a closer look at their direct employees and major service contractors to find what areas to improve.
“Contract cleaning is a big area. The city contracts over a million dollars over cleaning companies every year,” said Ogle. “We know that cleaners are amongst the more vulnerable workers and they typically aren’t making a living wage.”
Currently, the city of Vancouver has around 6,000 full-time employees, not including contract workers.
In April, a report found that Metro Vancouver’s living wage had risen to $20.68 per hour.
It should be noted that a living wage is not the same as the minimum wage. A living wage reflects what families need to make in order to live comfortably given the high prices in the community.