City of Vancouver becomes a living wage employer

The City of Vancouver, Park Board, and Vancouver Police Department in Canada have been certified as living wage employers, paying all employees and external contractors a minimum of $20.62 (£12.23) an hour.

The living wage rate, which includes direct wages and the value of non-mandatory benefits, will apply to staff and vendors, including employees of externally contracted service providers.

The living wage employer accreditation, awarded by the Living Wage for Families Campaign (LWFC), forms part of the City of Vancouver’s Healthy City Strategy. As part of this initiative, the council approved a commitment to become a certified living wage employer in July 2015. The Healthy City Strategy features 19 high-priority actions that the City aims to achieve between 2015-2018; becoming a living wage employer was one of the set goals.

The City of Vancouver’s procurement policy was updated on 1 May 2017 to reflect the new living wage standards for services purchased in support of City and Park Board operations.

Service vendors have to meet set criteria to be eligible for the living wage rate. This criteria includes if the estimated annual value of the vendor’s contract is greater than $250,000, its services are performed on properties owned by or leased to the City, its services are provided on a regular and ongoing basis, and if the contractor is expected to work for more than 120 hours per year of the contract.

The living wage standards will not be applied to emergency or maintenance services where there is no contract, services performed by organisations that lease property from the City, or contracts with social enterprises.

The living wage is the hourly rate that two adults would need to meet the basic needs of a family of four, covering costs such as rent, food, transportation, and childcare. The living wage rate is calculated annually by the LWFC and is based on the regional cost of living.

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Gregor Robertson, mayor of Vancouver, said: “Vancouver’s economy is booming, yet too many hard-working families are left behind because of Vancouver’s affordability challenges. As mayor, I’m proud that Vancouver is leading by example as Canada’s largest living wage employer.

Paying a living wage is an investment in our community and economy, and I encourage other local employers to take this step so families of all incomes and backgrounds can afford to live and work in Vancouver.”