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Burnaby officially taking steps to become $19.50/hour 'living wage' employer

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Eric Zimmer Jun 25, 2019 2:48 pm 200

The City of Burnaby announced it has adopted a Living Wage Program, which it says will benefit everyone who works on the city’s behalf.

“This is about investing in people, and investing in our community,” said Burnaby Mayor Mike Hurley. “Paying a decent wage delivers so many benefits.”

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The living wage, calculated annually by the Living Wage for Families Campaign, is the hourly amount a family needs to cover basic expenses.

The 2019 living wage for Metro Vancouver is $19.50 per hour (comprised of wages and non-mandatory benefits). The calculation is based on a two-parent family with two children with each parent working full-time.

“A living wage helps bring people out of poverty by guaranteeing that wages cover the basics of life,” said CUPE 23 President Bruce Campbell, who represents the city’s unionized employees. “Credit goes to the City of Burnaby for taking this step and ensuring the benefits of our local economy are fairly shared with workers.”

To receive Living Wage Employer certification, all wages for direct staff, contract staff, and contractors must meet the standard. Examples of external contracts include security, traffic flagging, and routine maintenance.

The city said there are a series of steps to Living Wage certification, which include:

  • October 1, 2019 – extend living wage to all city staff
  • January 1, 2020 – begin requiring living wage for all external service providers as new contracts assigned or renewed. This applies to contractors and sub-contractors.

Once certification is complete, the City of Burnaby will join the cities of New Westminster, Vancouver, and Port Coquitlam as a living wage employer.

The annual cost of transition to a living wage is estimated at $78,000 in staffing costs, based on the 2019 numbers. The cost of including all external service providers is estimated to be an additional $200,000 and $300,000 annually. The total comprises less than one-tenth of a percent of the city’s annual operating budget.

Throughout the Metro Vancouver region, about 30% of two-parent families with two children have incomes below the 2019 living wage, according to Statistics Canada.

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