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New Westminster, BC: ‘Living Wage’ Should be Election Issue, Councillor Says
Kamloops Daily News
Mike Youds

March 7, 2011
View the Original Article

A “living wage” capable of supporting a family, as distinct from the minimum wage or any increase to it, ought to be a municipal election issue this fall, Coun. Nancy Bepple said Monday.

Bepple believes the matter is not beyond the scope of City council and that the City should play a leadership role in setting a livable standard.

“They want to engage major employers and one of those employers is municipal government,” Bepple said of the campaign undertaken by the Canadian Centre for Policy Alternatives. “From the point of view of local government, it’s important to lead by example.”

Bepple, together with federal NDP candidate Michael Crawford, advocated for a living wage ahead of a visit by Seth Klein, B.C. director of the CCPA. He speaks on the subject of a living wage Wednesday, 7-9 p.m., at Desert Gardens, 550 Seymour St.

Klein released a report last spring on a living wage in Metro Vancouver. Based on the actual cost of raising a family in the Lower Mainland, the report pegged that wage at $18.17. In comparison, the B.C. minimum wage is $8, the lowest in Canada.

The minimum wage doesn’t enable families to meet basic needs such as decent housing and adequate nutrition.

“More than half of poor children in B.C. have at least one parent working full-time,” Klein is quoted in a press release jointly issued by Bepple and Crawford.

“It’s time to start thinking about the role employers and governments can take to meet a higher standard for their direct staff and major contractors.”

Part of the intent of bringing Klein to Kamloops is to put the matter to the public as an election issue next fall.

“So many families I meet are doing all the right things to raise their children, but working hard doesn’t ensure that they can get the job done,” Bepple said.

New Westminster City council is the first in Canada to take a stand on a living wage. Last spring it voted unanimously to adopt a living family wage for city and contract employees.