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Vancouver, BC: Call for living wage policy
24 Hours Vancouver
Stephanie Ip

October 3, 2011
View the Original Article

The Living Wage for Families Campaign is calling on candidates in next month’s municipal elections to pass a living wage policy if elected.

At a conference Monday in downtown Vancouver, the advisory committee, made up of representatives from more than 50 community organizations, unions and social welfare groups, said it will send an open letter to all candidates, detailing the economic struggles of B.C. families.

“It’s hugely frustrating,” said campaign organizer Michael McCarthy Flynn. “All these families are doing the right thing. They’re working hard, they’re trying to earn a buck, but they’re not getting to feed their families.”

According to the group, the basic living wage in Vancouver is calculated at $18.81 an hour, meaning an individual must make at least $18 an hour to meet the basic expenses of raising a family.

McCarthy Flynn wants candidates to ensure “hidden workers” – such as city contract workers in landscaping, maintenance, security and catering – are all paid enough to cover basic living expenses.

Vancouver, long been ranked one of the world's most livable cities, has also been named one of the most expensive markets, The Economist reported, with single-family homes averaging more than $800,000. Last year, New Westminster became the first living wage city in Canada.

“The truly frustrating part is these people are hidden. We walk by them everyday but … they’re too tired trying to make ends meet to have their voice heard,” McCarthy Flynn said.

The campaign also championed a living wage policy as a way to boost B.C.’s economy and cut down on additional services and policing costs by allowing workers to spend more time with families.