Quesnel Adopts Living Wage Policy
Quesnel, B.C.- The City of Quesnel is now the second municipality in the country to implement a living wage policy, but there is no plan for P.G. to follow suit.
As part of the City of Quesnel’s Strategic Plan, the Living Wage Policy was approved by Quesnel City Council this week.
A living wage is the hourly wage a family of four is deemed to need to cover basic expenses which include: food, clothing; rental housing; child care; transportation; and small savings to cover illness or emergencies.
The current Living Wage in Quesnel is $16.52 an hour including benefits.
Quesnel Mayor Bob Simpson says the policy is part of his Council’s commitment to ensure the community thrives during a transition period “As we shift from an industrial economy to a more service oriented one, the City can help lead the way by establishing benchmarks which challenge all employers to pay wages that reflect the true costs of living in our community and which also give people the ability to engage more fully in our local economy and social dynamic.”
Employees hired directly by the City of Quesnel will earn at minimum a living wage, with some exemptions for students and social programs. Service contractors hired by the City of Quesnel to perform regular, ongoing work of at least 120 hours per year will only be hired if they agree to pay their employees a living wage. A living wage clause will be included in all future agreements.
Prince George doesn’t have any plans to follow suit says P.G. Mayor Lyn Hall, “We haven’t addressed it (the Living Wage) as a Council. I know there are a couple of companies in town that have a Living wage embedded within their organization, so it would have to be something Council would address. We haven’t talked about it, and it’s not on the planning Board as something to bring forward to Council.”
Mayor Hall says City of P.G. employees are already paid in excess of the $16.52 per hour. Is it something Council might consider in the future? “I don’t know if it would or not” says Mayor Hall “As these things come up, Quesnel has done it, and it becomes a topic of conversation, so if Council decides if they want to go I that direction, these things come up in various communities and people always want to know if it’s something we may or may not do, but as I say, there has been no conversation on this issue.”
While City of P.G. employees are already above the Living Wage, the only application would be if the City decided to make it a condition of agreements with any of the contractors the City may hire. But again, Mayor Hall says it has not been a topic of discussion with this Council.
New Westminster was the first municipality in Canada to become a Living Wage Employer and the Huu-ay-aht First Nations was the first First Nations government to certify as a Living Wage Employer. Parksville, Port Coquitlam and the City of Vancouver have recently passed living wage policies and are moving towards implementation.