April 28th, 2010 by A Flemming - New Westminster Newsleader
The Royal City notched up one for the history books on Monday by becoming the first city in Canada to adopt a living wage bylaw.
In a unanimous city council vote, a motion passed that will direct both city employees and contract employees to be paid at or above an hourly wage substantially higher than the current provincial minimum wage.
The term “living wage” is used to describe the minimum hourly wage necessary for a family of four with two parents working full-time to meet the necessities of life. In Metro Vancouver, it is currently calculated to be $16.74 per hour.
Coun. Jaimie McEvoy, who initially brought forward the motion, said the city was especially concerned about child poverty.
“In British Columbia, half of children who are currently living below the poverty line have a parent working full-time,” said McEvoy. “We don’t want to be like Scrooge and have employees struggling to take care of their families. It is the right thing to do.”
“We live in a city that has the lowest average income in the GVRD,” said Coun. Bill Harper. “What we’re doing is setting an example and maybe other cities and corporations will do the same.”
The new bylaw is similar to those taken up in over 140 American cities after a recent campaign by the Association of Community Organizations for Reform Now (ACORN), whose local chapter turned in a petition to city hall with the signatures of 1200 New West residents supporting the initiative.