Motion to reverse “appalling” decision to cut pay for the City’s lowest-wage workers
VANCOUVER (Musqueam, Squamish and Tsleil-Waututh Territories) - Councillor Christine Boyle today announced that she will be bringing a motion to City Council to reinstate Vancouver’s certification as a Living Wage Employer.
In 2017, Vancouver enacted a policy through which it guaranteed that everyone working for the city would earn a living wage - enough for a family with two adults working full-time to cover rent, groceries, transportation and basic recreational activities. The policy, which covered working-class civic employees like cleaners and security guards, made the City of Vancouver the largest Living Wage Employer in British Columbia.
“Vancouver’s Living Wage certification is more than a policy: it’s a statement of our values. It says that anyone who works for the City of Vancouver deserves to live here, raise their children here, and contribute to the life of the community, without needing to rely on a food bank or a second full-time job,” said Councillor Christine Boyle, OneCity Vancouver. “As the cost of housing, clothing and groceries continues to rise, it’s unconscionable that City Council decided to end this guarantee. Politicians who vote to cut the pay of janitors and security guards while rent hits new heights demonstrate that they are profoundly out of touch with the needs of their community.”
In 2023, in a closed-door meeting, a majority of City Council voted to end Vancouver’s longstanding commitment to this policy. This move was immediately met by opposition from workers and organized labour, with the BC Federation of Labour calling the decision “appalling”.
Despite operating in a similar economic environment, the City of Victoria and the Vancouver School Board decided to recertify as a Living Wage Employer in 2023. So did many organizations in the private and nonprofit sector, like Mobi Bikes, Vancity Credit Union and Kindred Construction.
According to reporting in the Tyee, as a result of the City’s decision, workers like food vendors, civic theatre attendants, parks staff, security guards, traffic control workers and janitors are likely to see their wages drop.
City staff, for their part, reportedly reacted to the decision with “significant anger and disillusionment.” This reaction is unsurprising. In a cost of living crisis, as the price of housing and food continues to climb, cutting the pay of some of the City’s lowest-wage workers is absolutely unacceptable.
“Working people keep Vancouver running, and they deserve to live here. And organizations that pay living wages see decreased staff turnover, recruitment and training costs - as well as higher morale,” continued Boyle. “This Mayor and Council made a huge mistake in killing the living wage policy. Now, they have a chance to make it right.”
A Living Wage is life-changing for workers who receive it. After becoming a Living Wage Employer in 2017, staff at the City of Vancouver reported receiving letters from “our graffiti removal services about employees saying just that it changed their life.”
Vancouverites who believe that workers deserve to be able to afford to live in Vancouver, and who support the return of the Living Wage, are invited to send a letter to City Council. Send a letter in:
The motion will be heard at Council on February 28.
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