Municipal Living Wage
Right now someone working full-time at the minimum wage (at $11.35/hour on March 15) earns about $1839 a month. This is less than the average one-bedroom apartment rent of $1950, not to mention all the other rising costs of living. This is clearly both unsustainable and unjust, as it guarantees that the minimum-wage workers who keep our City’s services, transport, and maintenance sectors operational can only afford to live here with least two full-time jobs. This stresses families as children grow up hardly seeing parents.
Many who oppose a living minimum wage believe it is primarily a wage paid to young people working part-time, living at home. In reality most minimum wage earners in BC are over the age of 30, work at least full-time, and live apart from their parents. Minimum wage increases don’t just make life affordable for workers putting money directly in their pockets. They’ve also been shown to improve mental health and increase productivity. Minimum wage increases help local businesses, since minimum-wage earners are far more likely to spend what they earn and spend it in the local economy.
The minimum wage is currently set provincially, but the cost-of-living ranges from region to region. The Canadian Centre for Policy Alternatives (CCPA) calculates that the Living Wage in Vancouver is $20.62. It’s time to build a broad-based campaign to pressure the provincial government to raise the minimum wage in Vancouver to a living wage of $20.
The City of Vancouver tacitly admitted the impossibility of Vancouver life on $11.35/hour when it pledged itself to becoming a living wage employer, a welcome move for City of Vancouver contractors, but one that did little to affect most low wage workers in the city.
In Seattle, City Councillor Kshama Sawant was able to help build a movement that won a $15 minimum wage for the region, in the face of stiff opposition from opposing political and big-business interests. In an age of historic unaffordability nationwide, Vancouver’s civic government needs to take a leadership role in the right to humane wages.
Raise the rates for welfare and disability
Campaign to raise the rates to $1600/month. If we want to end homelessness, this is absolutely crucial. We cannot afford to pass the buck any longer. The City has to make it clear that this is a top priority, and reach an agreement with the provincial government.
Rent freeze for small neighbourhood stores
Small businesses are hit by the affordability crisis. Business tenants are facing rising rents, and those businesses that own properties are hit with skyrocketing commercial property taxes. In this environment, big box stores outcompete local small businesses.
The provincial and federal governments define a “small business” as a Canadian-controlled private company with an active business income of $500,000 or less.
We are calling for a four-year rent freeze for local small businesses in Vancouver.
We will build support with small businesses for commercial rent-control.