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A British Columbia city council adopted the first municipal living wage policy in Canada last night – a move that will hopefully become a standard for cities across the country.

The New Westminster City Council voted unanimously yesterday for a living wage bylaw based on a calculation of the hourly wage required to keep a family with two children and two working parents above the poverty line.

This is a great example of the important role municipal governments can play in reducing poverty in their communities and across Canada,” said Paul Moist, national president of the Canadian Union of Public Employees (CUPE).

New Westminster’s living wage policy will apply to both full-time and part-time employees, and will apply to both direct staff and to contractors performing physical work on City properties.

The Hospital Employees Union (HEU), the health care services division of CUPE in BC, has led a living wage campaign in the province since 2007. The campaign calls on government and health authorities to ensure their private contractors pay a living wage.

To raise awareness in the Vancouver area, the union has partnered with the Metro Vancouver Living Wage for Families Campaign. The New Westminster decision is a great win for the coalition of community organizations.

Raising the incomes of poor families creates stronger communities, both socially and economically,” said Moist. “New Westminster has set a strong example for cities across the country.”