Friday, May 14, 2010

City enacts "living wage" policy


On Tuesday, New Westminster city council made history of sorts:

It passed a motion that would make New Westminster council the first municipal government in Canada to enact a "living wage policy."

Notice the terminology -- "living wage" not "minimum wage." The practical, and philosophical, gap between the two is huge.

Once the details have been worked out and the policy takes effect, all full-and part-time employees doing work on city-owned property, including those working for independent contractors, must be paid a "living wage" -- defined as enough to keep a family of two working adults and two children above the poverty line.

That figure for New Westminster, according to the motion, works out to $16.74 an hour -- a figure that includes benefits factored into it. That is more than twice B.C.'s minimum wage of $8 an hour, now the lowest in Canada.

"In an area like Metro Vancouver," said Coun. Jaimie McEvoy, who introduced the motion, "where housing costs are among the most expensive in the country, the minimum wage doesn't cover the cost of living. A living wage does, and maybe even allows people to save a little."

From the Vancouver Sun. The issue was debated today on The Current; unfortunately the proponent and opponent never really addressed each others' arguments.

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