Squamish Nation is guaranteeing its staff a living wage

Aug 21 2020, 12:55 pm

The Squamish Nation is guaranteeing its employees a living wage, as the BC First Nation was recently certified as a Living Wage Employer.

A living wage is classified as a rate of pay that will cover basic expenses like food, clothing, housing, child care, transportation and emergency savings, the Living Wage for Families Campaign (LWFC) said on its website. The living wage is calculated based on a two-parent family with two children — the most common family unit in BC — and each parent working full-time.

This means that while the minimum wage in BC is $14.60/h, a living wage in Metro Vancouver for 2019 was calculated to $19.50/hour for an employee who does not receive benefits, or $17.18/hour for an employee at the Squamish Nation who receives benefits, the group said in a release.

All Squamish Nation staff are now receiving the current living wage and contractors will also see pay adjustments when they renew their contracts.

The changes will impact 96 Squamish Nation employees. A benefit to their community and surrounding ones as 64% of all Squamish Nation staff (280 employees) are Squamish Nation members, with an additional 11% of staff identifying as Indigenous from other Nations.

“The Squamish Nation strives to be an employer of choice, where our community members and all current and prospective employees seek career opportunities with the Squamish Nation,” said Orene Askew, Squamish Nation councillor and spokesperson. “Being a Living Wage employer and providing an annual cost of living increase are two ways that we can work towards accomplishing this goal.

“It shows that we value our employees by ensuring they have their salary needs met to take care of their families and also build a strong and healthy Squamish Nation community,”

There are over 160 “Living Wage Employers” in the province, the release said, including several other governments such as Huu-ay-aht First Nation, Central Saanich, the City of Port Coquitlam, and the City of Vancouver.

“The COVID-19 crisis has magnified the importance of achieving living wages for all, whether for workers identified as essential during this crisis, putting their lives on the line to keep us safe, or those whose low wages and precarious work have left them without a buffer in the face of acute income insecurity,” said Anastasia French, campaign organizer for the LWFC. “We are very grateful that Squamish Nation have stepped up at this time and committed to paying their staff and contractors a living wage.”

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