Abbotsford City Hall File photo

Abbotsford City Hall File photo

Living wage on city radar, but officials wary of ‘snap decision’

Siemens says implications of requiring workers be paid at least $15.90 need to be examined

Abbotsford isn’t ready to make a “snap decision” about guaranteeing that all those paid for city work receive a “living wage,” according to Coun. Ross Siemens.

Earlier this month, Vancouver pledged to pay all its employees at least $20.62, the amount the Living Wage for Families Campaign deemed is needed for two working adults in the city to support a family of four.

The living wage in the Fraser Valley is significantly less: $15.90/hour. In response to a question at a recent meeting of the city’s homelessness action advisory committee, Siemens – who chaired the meeting and was the only member of council present – said the issue had been raised and it is “something we’d be looking at down the road.”

But he said more work needs to be done to determine how such a pledge would affect the contractors used by the city.

In Vancouver, most city workers already make significantly more than the living wage, but contractors employed to perform duties such as janitorial duty and security work were the most affected by the guarantee.

“I am aware of it but I think there are a lot of implications we have to be aware of,” Siemens said.

The Fraser Valley’s living wage – which is calculated for Abbotsford, Mission, Chilliwack, Hope and Boston Bar – has actually declined for two consecutive years.

Deanna Ogle, campaign organizer with the Living Wage for Families Campaign, said in June the reduction was because the Canada Child Benefit – a policy introduced by the federal government in July 2016 – was substantial enough to offset significant cost increases for families.

The last year saw rent and child care costs increase substantially, by a combined $222 per month. In 2014, around one-quarter of Abbotsford-Mission’s two-parent, two-child families had incomes less than the living wage.

Other communities paying employees such a living wage include New Westminster, Port Coquitlam and Quesnel.

– with files from Ashley Wadhwani

Abbotsford City Hall

 

Abbotsford Coun. Ross Siemens File photo

Abbotsford Coun. Ross Siemens File photo