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The Living Wage Campaign—an organized effort to raise awareness of poverty and the cost of living in B.C.—is gaining momentum in local communities, thanks to the support of the Hospital Employees’ Union (HEU), CUPE’s health services division in the province.

Last month, community organization First Call: BC Child and Youth Advocacy Coalition held its first Citizens Series on Health “webinar” – A Living Wage: One Path to Addressing Income and Poverty as Determinants of Health – with a focus on northern communities.

Stemming from that interactive, online webinar, the University of Northern B.C. social work department and Northern Health Region’s population health department are partnering to explore ways to promote better health and reduce poverty in northern municipalities by “looking at supporting Living Wage calculations in a number of towns.”

Several city councils in different parts of the province—like Esquimalt, Cowichan, Williams Lake and Cranbrook—are calculating a living wage or looking ways to implement one.

Living wage calculations reflect the basic cost of living for a family of four with two young children, with both parents working full-time. The hourly rate assumes the employer pays no benefits.

According to research by First Call and the Canadian Centre for Policy Alternatives, the living wage calculation in Metro Vancouver is $18.17 an hour, and $17.31 an hour in Victoria.

For more information, visit A Living Wage for Families and check out HEU’s Living Wage Campaign.