COPE candidates want Vancouver’s public sector employers to pay direct and contract employees a living wage- the hourly wage sufficient for an average family to meet their basic needs in a particular region. According to a CCPA report, for Vancouver, that works out to $16.74 per hour.
“People who work in Vancouver should be able to afford to live in Vancouver,” said COPE Cllr David Cadman.
Cadman wants the City of Vancouver, Park Board and School Board to set an example other Vancouver employers can follow. The first step could be striking a mayor’s task force of economic and social policy organizations, unions and city staff to explore how a living wage policy could be introduced.
“This city depends on people doing important work for which, at present, they are not getting a living wage. Yet as a society we haven’t been prepared to pay them enough to meet their basic needs,” said COPE council candidate Ellen Woodsworth. “This is a question of fundamental human rights.”
Ordinary working families are moving out of Vancouver. According to Stats Canada, almost 5,000 families left Vancouver between 2001 and 2006. Families that remain struggle with escalating costs for housing, food and transportation.
Low wages mean workers and their families constantly struggle to meet their basic needs, forcing many parents to work two or more jobs, accrue spiraling debt, and become more susceptible to long-term health problems. Child poverty is a strong predictor of school failure, lower literacy levels, poor health and under-employment as adults.
While major US cities like Miami, Washington and Philadelphia have addressed their citizens’ need for a living wage, Vancouver still suffers unacceptable levels of income inequality – too many people are being left behind.
With Vancouver’s cost of living still rising, COPE candidates are committed to making Vancouver an affordable city where families can thrive—not just survive.
For full CCPA report go to: http://www.policyalternatives.ca/Reports/2008/09/ReportsStudies1958/index.cfm?pa=A2286B2A
For more information on the Living Wage campaign, visit: www.heu.org