Lost in the shuffle of today’s endless news cycle was a little bit of good news, and something all Vancouverites should be quite proud of.
A few weeks ago Vancouver declared it will become Canada’s first certified city as a living wage employer. This means council has approved pursuing a Living Wage certification for all City of Vancouver employees and subcontractors, meaning the starting or base salary will be $20.64.
The idea is pretty simple, everyone knows living on minimum wage is not do-able, and it’s great to see the government upping our provincial number. But what about over-achieving, setting the gold standard? Sounds like something Vancouver does pretty well in a lot of categories including quality of life–so why not this too?
There’s something beneath the surface of this move too, in that offering a living wage instead of just minimum wage has research-proven economic benefits for everyone involved. The higher someone’s wage is, the less likely they are to engage in a number of things that have been deemed detrimental to society. This takes the burden off the healthcare sector, and the criminal justice sector, and allows those making a low wage consider other things, like going back to school to re-up their education and add to Vancouver’s growing talent pool. It also allows them to consider other things like home ownership, or even down the road, starting their own business.
A few European countries are championing the push right now for living wages, and the results have been quite positive. Everyone understands those working long hours are hard workers, but when they get caught up in a cycle of debt, nobody benefits. We need people to fill our service sectors, but we don’t need them scraping by and struggling to make ends meet.
Hooray to the City of Vancouver for adding to its Healthy Living Strategy. Because when we help out those in need, and those who need it most, we all end up rising in the end.