Together we can make an impact
Join the over 140 Living Wage Employers across BC in addressing poverty in your community.
If you have any questions about the process, don’t hesitate to be in touch by phone (604-975-3347) or email (email@example.com).
Please note: applications are accepted between May and December each year.
The living wage is a regional calculation that looks at the amount that a family of four, two adults working full year, full time, need to earn to meet their expenses. The living wage allows working families to support the healthy development of their children and participate in the social, civic and cultural lives of their communities.
A living wage employer pays all direct and contract staff the living wage rate for their region.
Step 1: Determine the living wage in your region
You can see a map of the BC communities that have calculated a living wage rate. If you don’t see your community listed on the map or if you have any questions email us at firstname.lastname@example.org. We can help!
To calculate the living wage rate for each employer we take into account their employees’ total compensation package (wage + benefits). If employees receive non-mandatory benefits like extended health benefits or Medical Services Plan (MSP) coverage, the living wage rate is reduced to take this into account. See our benefits calculator for details.
Step 2: Make a plan
A clear implementation plan is essential. Download and read through A Guide to Becoming a Living Wage Employer (PDF). The handbook offers step-by-step information for large and small employers.
If you are a small employer with under 15 staff and/or a less complex organizational structure, you may instead fill out an application form:
Call us (604-975-3347) in the initial stages to answer any questions you might have. Any conversation we have is confidential and we won’t rush you through the process.
Step 3: Apply for certification
Once you have submitted your living wage plan, it will be reviewed by a committee of employers. This committee will approve your plan or ask for more information to strengthen your application. This process is to help you have as strong an implementation plan as possible.
- Living Wage Employers pay all direct and contract staff the living wage rate for their region.
- Living Wage Employers recognize that paying a living wage is an investment in the long-term prosperity of the economy.
- We all have a role to play in ending poverty. The minimum wage is a government response to address working poverty. The living wage is an employer’s opportunity to address the same problem.
Paying a living wage
The living wage is a bare-bones calculation that looks at the amount that a family of four needs to earn to meet their expenses. The living wage includes costs like rent and groceries as well as items like extended health care and two weeks savings for each adult. It does not include debt repayment or savings for future plans.
To calculate the living wage rate, employers take into account their employees’ total wage plus benefits. If employees receive non-mandatory benefits, the living wage rate is reduced. See our benefits calculator for details.
Read through A guide to becoming a Living Wage Employer. The handbook offers step-by-step information for large and small employers.
What are the benefits of a living wage?
Good for employers
Employers have found that implementing a living wage has increased their employee recruitment and retention. Vancity saw that the most significant impact was the swelling of pride in all staff after implementing a living wage. Staff at Living Wage Employers are proud to contribute to a company that ensures that no one is left behind.
"A living wage supports our organization's mission to promote equality, fairness and social inclusion." - BC Public Interest Advocacy Centre
Good for our community
We all pay for poverty in our communities. We pay in increased use of emergency health services when individuals aren’t able to afford to fill prescriptions. Our education system is stretched when parents aren’t able to support their children’s education because they are working multiple jobs. Investing in a living wage is investing in the health of our communities.
Good for the economy
When low-wage workers see an increase in their wages they spend their money locally. A living wage allows families to participate in the social, civic and cultural lives of their communities. They support local business and participate in community events. We all benefit when we reduce poverty in our communities.
Download a high resolution map of living wages across BC
Living wages in BC
The Living Wage for Families Campaigns works with 21 communities across BC who have calculated their local living wage.
The living wage is defined as a regional calculation that looks at the amount that a family of four needs to earn to meet their expenses. The living wage includes costs like rent and groceries as well as items like extended health care and two weeks' savings for each adult. It does not include debt repayment or savings for future plans.
For Metro Vancouver and Victoria rent is the highest expense in the living wage calculation but in the Fraser Valley child care is the highest expense that families face. A regional calculation allows communities to identify policy advocacy that would positively impact poverty in their community.
The Living Wage for Families Campaign calculates the Living Wage for Metro Vancouver and certifies employers across BC. The map above also includes other communities who have calculated their living wage using our calculation. If your community does not yet have a living wage calculation, see this video for a one-hour webinar that explains how the Metro Vancouver living wage is calculated and how you can adopt this methodology to use in your own community.
Living wages in Canada
More and more communities across Canada are taking action in response to this country’s increasingly high levels of low-wage poverty. Why? They want everyone to afford the basic necessities of life, to live with dignity and to actively participate in their community – they want a living wage.
The online site Living Wage Canada supports this national living-wage movement through facilitated learning and information-sharing. The site’s Canadian Living Wage Framework provides a consistent living wage definition and calculation methodology, and a strategy for recognizing corporate and community leadership who commit to passing a living wage policy.
A living wage is the hourly amount a family needs to cover basic expenses
- Rental housing
- Child care
- Small savings to cover illness or emergencies
The living wage calculation is based on a two-parent family with two children – the most common family unit in BC – and each parent working full-time. The current living wage rate for Metro Vancouver is $20.91/hour.
The living wage changes based on costs in each region. Find living wage rates across BC
The Living Wage for Families Campaign encourages employers to pay a living wage as well as advocates for government policies that would help families make ends meet.
A living wage does not cover additional expenses such as:
- Debt repayment from credit cards, loans or other interest payments
- Future savings for home ownership, retirement or children’s university education
- Anything beyond minimal recreation, entertainment and holiday costs
- Costs of caring for a disabled, seriously ill or elderly family member
For full details on the Metro Vancouver living wage calculation, see Working for a Living Wage: Making Paid Work Meet Basic Family Needs in Metro Vancouver by the Canadian Centre for Policy Alternatives - BC Office (CCPA-BC).
More and more British Columbians work in low-wage jobs that do not pay enough to live on
One out of every three poor children in BC live in families with at least one adult working full-time, full-year. In other words, child poverty in BC is very much a low-wage story. For most of the past decade, BC’s child-poverty rate, currently at 23.7%, has remained consistently higher than the Canadian average, according to First Call’s Child Poverty Report Card.
Poor children are being raised in poor families. Of the 27 factors identified as having an impact on child development, up to 80% were seen to improve as family income increases.
A living wage lifts working families out of poverty
A living wage is different than a minimum wage. The minimum wage is the legislated minimum set by the provincial government. The minimum wage should be set at a rate high enough to lift an individual worker out of poverty. An adequate minimum wage is the government’s responsibility to address working poverty.
A living wage is an opportunity for employers to do better. A living wage calls on employers to meet a higher standard for their both staff and major contractors, to ensure that wages reflect the true costs of living in a community and that parents can earn what they need to support their families. More than 100 Living Wage Employers across BC agree and have certified with the Living Wage for Families Campaign.
The Living Wage for Families also advocates for policies that would positively impact families. We support the call for quality and affordable child care as well as for housing policies that would help low-wage families make ends meet.