Port Coquitlam city workers now earn a living wage

The city of Port Coquitlam implemented its living wage policy on Jan. 1.

All Port Coquitlam civic employees are now making at least a living wage.

Last week, PoCo became the third municipality in Canada to implement the living wage policy — meaning anyone who works for the city earns a minimum of $20.64 an hour.

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Steve Traviss, PoCo's human resources director, said the move translates to $160,000 a year to the bottom line: $60,000 annually to bring all workers' salaries up to the calculated rate and another $100,000 for contractors.

Deanna Ogle of the Living Wage for Families Campaign said newly certified living wage employers like PoCo don't have to meet the living wage clause until its contracts are up for renewal; however, she expects the city to be fully on board by the end of the year.

According to the Campaign, 15% of PoCo kids — or 1,789 children — live below the poverty line, a number that council highlighted as it unanimously endorsed the policy last year.

In Port Moody, city managers have been tasked by council to review the costs for a living wage top-up for employees and subcontracted labour. A report is due before PoMo council this spring to consider certification, city spokesperson Rosemary Lodge said.

Ogle said she expects more municipalities will be certified this year including Pitt Meadows, which passed its living wage policy last month, and Vancouver.

As for the rate of $20.64 per hour, Ogle said she's unsure if it will change given the federal government's adjustment to child care benefits last July. Though many families now receive more money from that program, the soaring price for rental housing in Metro Vancouver can offset that gain. "That's the challenge," Ogle said. "These [living wage] policies need to keep up with the rising costs."

She said her group is working with stakeholders such as municipal, federal, corporate and charitable entities to review poverty levels in B.C. "but absent from the table is the provincial government," Ogle said, noting the upcoming election in May. "This is an opportunity to make poverty an issue. Affordable living is something that we want to see all political parties endorse."

Coquitlam council has not considered a living wage policy. 

jcleugh@tricitynews.com

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