The District of Central Saanich is the first local government in the Capital Region and one of the first municipalities in the province to officially adopt a living wage policy for staff and contractors.
The living wage, which is different than the province’s minimum wage, is determined based on what a family of four with two full-time income earners needs to support their basic needs, including housing, transportation, basic recreation, and food.
“For us it’s about ensuring our employees are receiving a wage that reflects the true costs of living in our community,” says Central Saanich Mayor, Ryan Windsor.
All employees and subcontractors under contract with the District will be paid not less than the living wage for the Capital Region District as calculated by the Community Living Council; the current wage for the region is $20.01 per hour.
“Our province is increasingly unaffordable for many people, and unfortunately B.C. has a high poverty rate,” says Windsor. “Living wages are one way to combat this trend. They benefit communities in a number of ways, from ensuring families have some disposable income for healthy food and recreation to lifting children out of poverty and improving the economy.”
The District notes the new policy will not impact its finances in a significant way, as most employees’ pay and benefits packages already meet the standard. The policy is designed to ensure they continue to meet or exceed the living wage, which is recalculated annually. It’s also about helping ensure a sustainable local economy and demonstrating to other the value of the living wage.
Across B.C., there are currently over 80 living wage employers, including the about six local governments.
- In Canada there is increasing support for a Living Wage as a way to address the issue of child and family poverty.
- New Westminster in B.C. became the first municipality in Canada to pass a Living Wage Policy in 2011 and since then many municipalities have followed suit including the City of Vancouver, City of Quesnel, City of Port Coquitlam and the Huu-ay-aht and Yuułu-ił-atḥ First Nations, and the District of Central Saanich.
- A living wage is different than a minimum wage. The minimum wage is the legislated minimum set by the provincial government. The minimum wage should be set at a rate high enough to lift an individual worker out of poverty. An adequate minimum wage is the government’s responsibility to address working poverty.
- For most of the past decade, BC’s child-poverty rate, currently at 23.7%, has remained consistently higher than the Canadian average, according to First Call’s Child Poverty Report Card.
- Employers paying a living wage experience a decrease in employee turnover and absenteeism,
- increased retention and productivity, and savings on rehiring and retraining.
- Employees who earn a living wage experience increased mental and physical health and economic well-being, leading to a more productive and committed workforce.
- For more information, see CommunityCouncil.ca and LivingWageforFamilies.ca