Living wage. Livable future.

Published On May 9th 2017

Stories of struggles for families not making a living wage has been a regular topic in the news over the last few years. But what exactly is a living wage? And how does it differ from the minimum wage?

Simply, a living wage is an hourly wage rate calculated to keep working people above the poverty line. It allows working people to meet their basic needs without having to use income assistance programs.

A living wage is:

  • Regional – it’s based on the cost of living in different areas. In the Fraser Valley, it’s $15.90/hour.
  • Based on the monthly expenses of a two-parent family, with two elementary school aged children.
  • Based on each parent working 35 hours/week for 52 weeks/year.
  • Enough to cover basic cost of living (excluding consumer debt, retirement, and major expenses).

A living wage and minimum wage are different. The minimum wage is the lowest legal wage an employer can pay its employees and is based on changes in the economy. A living wage is based on the actual cost of living in a given area, but it is not a legal wage – employers do not have to provide it.

Why is a living wage important to ACS?

Poverty can affect anyone – all ages and backgrounds. In Abbotsford, half of children living in lone-parent families live in poverty. Similarly, a two-parent, two-child family with both parents working full-time at minimum wage falls almost $1,000 below the poverty line.

A living wage is important to ACS as we actively work to reduce poverty and homelessness in our community – and helping working people meet their basic needs through a living wage will do just that.

Becoming a living wage employer is a large undertaking and can be a long journey. While one of our long-term goals is to become a living wage employer, we believe every step toward providing (and earning) a living wage is just as important. With this campaign, we want to increase awareness in the community regarding a living wage and we hope to influence vendors and partners in moving toward providing a living wage.

Ready to learn more about living wage?

Check out Vibrant Abbotsford’s living wage campaign for stats and details: http://vibrantabbotsford.ca/projects/living-wage