March 1st, 2010 by Theresa McManus - New Westminster's The Record
The City of New Westminster is getting kudos from poverty and health groups from across Canada after becoming the first Canadian city to agree to establish a living wage policy.
A living wage is often defined as being the minimum hourly wage that's necessary for a family of four, with two parents working full-time, to pay for food, shelter and other daily needs. City council voted unanimously to support a living wage policy that's tied to an hourly rate established annually by the Living Wage for Families campaign.
"New Westminster is the first city in Western Canada - why not be the first city in other things as well," said Coun. Jaimie McEvoy. "The pioneers would be proud."
After representatives from ACORN Canada - the Association of Community Organizations for Reform Now - asked council to adopt a living wage bylaw, McEvoy encouraged council to consider the issue. He didn't know if it would fly, but he thought it would at least initiate dialogue.
McEvoy has received a lot of reaction to Monday's decision, almost all of it positive. The Canadian Cancer Society applauded the decision, saying poverty is one of the determinants of health, while the Canada Without Poverty organization said the living wage movement is a step toward ending poverty in Canada.