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New Westminster, BC: Surrey Examining Fair Wage Policy
Surrey Leader
Kevin Diakiw

March 30, 2011
View the Original Article

The City of Surrey has asked staff to explore the impact of a "living wage" policy.

If such a policy was endorsed, it would mean Surrey would require (as part of its tendering process) that employees of the successful bidder pay a set wage amount, likely about $18 an hour.

The motion to bring the idea forward came from Coun. Bob Bose, who admits he was somewhat surprised he received unanimous support from his colleagues.

That said, he believes it to be an extremely important policy.

"There's broad recognition that there are those who are trapped in poverty that are fully employed," Bose said. "(The policy) has value in correcting some injustices."

Surrey once had a fair wage policy, introduced by former city councillor Gary Robinson in 1993, when Bose was mayor.

The policy was spiked in 1996 under new civic leadership.

Robinson, who is expected to run under the Surrey Civic Coalition this November, wants to bring that policy back.

He doesn't believe it would mean more expensive contracts for Surrey taxpayers.

"It doesn't have to," Robinson told The Leader in January. "It might make for less profit for some contractors, but it doesn't necessarily have to make for more expensive contracts."

Bose said in New Westminster, the annual cost to the city has been about $30,000. He also said there is some possibility there could be upward pressure on the cost of contracts with the civic union.

Robinson said the position on fair wage is just good policy and should cut across party lines.

"The future lives in Surrey, we'd like the future to be fair," he said.