BC is the last province without a poverty reduction plan, and we have the second-highest rate of poverty in Canada. Paying a living wage to all direct and contract staff is a key part of an overall poverty reduction strategy. We have the ability to create good jobs and invest in our communities.
We have seen seven local governments across BC commit to paying a living wage to all direct and contract staff. The estimated cost for the City of Vancouver to pay all direct and contract service staff a living wage is less than 0.5% of their total budget.
Paying a living wage is an achievable and practical way to show leadership on the issue of working poverty. It's time for the BC government to step up.
Paying a living wage is:
Good for employers: People providing government services are doing important work, but many contract services staff are struggling to make ends meet. Contract services staff are responsible for providing infection-free environments in our hospitals and important care for people with disabilities. When people earn a living wage they are engaged in their work. Employers have found that implementing a living wage has increased their employee recruitment and retention. Staff at Living Wage Employers are proud to contribute to a company that ensures that no one is left behind.
Good for our community: We all pay for poverty in our communities. We pay in increased use of emergency health services when individuals can't afford to fill prescriptions. Our education system is stretched when parents can't support their children’s education because they are working multiple jobs. Investing in a living wage is investing in the health of our communities.
Good for economy: When low-wage workers see an increase in their wages they spend their money locally. A living wage allows families to participate in the social, civic and cultural lives of their communities. They support local business and participate in community events. We all benefit when we reduce poverty in our communities.
Living wages across BC
The Living Wage for Families Campaign works with 21 communities across BC who have calculated their local living wage.
The living wage is defined as a regional calculation that looks at the amount that a family of four needs to earn to meet their expenses. The living wage includes costs like rent and groceries as well as items like extended health care and two weeks' savings for each adult. It does not include debt repayment or savings for future plans.