City council has voted to move Victoria closer to becoming a “living wage” employer. Nicole Crescenzi/ VICTORIA NEWS

Victoria councillors opinions mixed as living wage policy approved

Move symbolic, as most City employees make more than $20.50 per hour

City councillors have voted to endorse the Living Wage campaign, the first step towards the City officially becoming a living wage employer, despite the fact most staff already earn more than the $20.50/hour figure.

The living wage estimate is calculated by the Community Social Planning Council of Greater Victoria, and uses a model of two full-time working parents with two children, aged seven and four, to calculate the minimum income required to meet the most basic household needs.

In April, the Council’s annual report stated that in Victoria it would take both parents earning $20.50 per hour to cover basic shelter, clothing, food, transportation and medical expenses, as well as two weeks of sick leave. That amount would not include savings for post-secondary education, a retirement fund, or cash towards paying off any debts.

RELATED: Greater Victoria’s living wage now costs $20.50 an hour

Councillors Jeremy Loveday and Ben Isitt forwarded the motion.

“Having a living wage means someone who is working full time should be able to live and work in our community,” Loveday said. “We are agreeing in principle to the adoption of a living wage policy and have directed City staff to come up with a draft policy.”

While committing to pay a living wage is encouraged by the Community Social Planning Council, city council’s endorsement is more of a statement than a catalyst for change, Loveday admitted.

“A vast majority of City workers already make the living wage, or more,” he said. “For the City as an employer, there would not be much difference. It’s about committing to the principle and moving forward with it in the future. It’s important to show leadership as an employer, and about where we want to go.”

Coun. Geoff Young, the only one to vote against the motion, said despite it largely being a symbolic action, it could have potentially negative affects on Victoria’s citizens.

EDITORIAL: Living wage a misnomer; where’s the quality of life?

“My overall concern is that the inequalities in pay rates, to me, are now becoming the inequity between government-sector workers and non-government sector workers,” Young said. “A more interesting and useful challenge would be for us as a government to see that the wages we pay are consistent with the wages of the people who pay our salaries, that is the taxpayers.”

He noted that sub-contractors doing work for the City occasionally are paid less than the current living wage, and any change to their pay could affect contract negotiations with union workers. If starting wages for entry positions are increased, Young added, similar increases might be sought for higher level positions.

“Extra dollars for our sub-contractors would be paid by people whose income isn’t even that high,” he said, referring to taxpayers. “Victoria is not a high-paying community, overall.”

A draft policy for the living wage program will be presented at a later date by City staff and council approval is required before it can take effect.

nicole.crescenzi@vicnews.com

Like us on Facebook and follow us on Twitter
and Instagram

City of Victoria

Get local stories you won't find anywhere else right to your inbox.
Sign up here

Just Posted

VIDEO: View Royal resident spots cougar in nearby backyard

B.C. Conservation notified about early Thursday morning sighting

Greater Victoria tourism industry ‘can’t wait any longer’ for financial aid

Saanich mayor, business owners call on provincial, federal governments for tourism-specific aid

Pauquachin First Nation calls on North Saanich to help restore shellfish in Coles Bay

The nation identifies ‘residential onsite septic systems’ as one of sources of contamination

COVID-19 demolishes new construction in Greater Victoria

Value of new building permits in Greater Victoria drop more than 37 per cent

Group desperate to find solution to wrecks lining shores of Cadboro Bay

Caddy Bay ‘a wild west’ without authority, say locals

22 new COVID-19 test-positives, one death following days of low case counts in B.C.

Health officials urged British Columbians to ‘stand together while staying apart’

POLL: Are you sending your children back to school this month?

Classrooms looked decidedly different when students headed back to school for the… Continue reading

Federal aid for care home systems needed ahead of second wave, advocates say

Ontario Long Term Care Association calling for more action

B.C. woman, 26, fatally shot by police in Edmundston, N.B.

Police were conducting a well-being check at the time of the incident

Horgan calls for national anti-racism program; will pitch idea to PM, premiers

Premier John Horgan said he’s horrified by the death of George Floyd in the United States

Chilliwack dad rescues two young daughters after truck plunges into lake

“I used every single one of my angels that day,” said Dennis Saulnier

VIDEO: Internal investigation into aggressive arrest by Kelowna Mountie

A video allegedly shows a Kelowna Mountie striking a man several times

John Horgan says COVID-19 restrictions won’t be eased regionally

B.C. Liberals urge ‘tailored’ response based on infections

Most Read