Living Wage Campaign

Living Wage for Families

Click here to visit the Living Wage for Families campaign website.


The Issue

One of the key contributing factors to child poverty in BC is low-wage poverty. In fact, the majority of poor children in BC live in working poor families.

Without living wage standards, parents and other caregivers who work for low wages in BC face impossible choices: buy food or heat the house, feed the children or pay the rent. The result is often spiralling debt, constant anxiety and long-term health problems. For many more parents it also means working long hours, often at two or three jobs, just to pay for basic necessities. All of which means little time is spent at home, let alone helping children with school work or participating in community activities. Unfortunately, the frustration of working harder and harder only to fall further behind is also an issue many BC residents can relate to.


Families who work for low wages face impossible choices: buy food or heat the house, feed the children or pay the rent. The result can be spiraling debt, constant anxiety and long-term health problems.


– Working for a Living Wage, 2008


The Campaign

The Living Wage for Families Campaign, hosted by First Call, raises awareness about the negative impact of low-wage poverty on families and communities throughout BC and advocates for a key solution to the province’s high poverty rates – regional living wages that ensure basic living expenses such as food, clothing, shelter, transportation and child care can be met.

The campaign also calculates a regional living wage rate for Metro Vancouver and certifies employers in Metro Vancouver who pay a living wage.

Making Ends Meet: Participatory Action Research Project

The Living Wage for Families Campaign is conducting a three-year project on low wage work. Through a participatory action research project, we will work alongside low wage workers throughout the whole project. Workers will receive training in research methods, outreach work and other research skills. This will prepare participants for advocacy to influence decision makers to take action on the recommendations that come out of this research.

For more information about the project, visit the Living Wage for Families Campaign website here.


Take Action!

Visit our campaign website to learn more and show your support!



In 2006 First Call began research on potential community support for living wage standards in BC, an initiative prompted by Campaign 2000’s two-year national project Addressing the Falling Fortunes of Young Children and Their Families.

To identify living wage criteria and feasibility points, outreach workshops were first conducted with low-income families in Metro Vancouver. First Call then convened a multi-stakeholder Living Wage Roundtable, with representation from parent, community, business, union and faith-based organizations. The goal: to share perspectives on how best to establish living wage standards and promote a living wage for the Metro Vancouver area.

Based on this research, First Call concluded that a broad-based living wage campaign would have wide appeal and could be a key strategy in addressing the issue of child poverty in the province.

In spring 2007, First Call co-sponsored a research project with the Canadian Centre for Policy Alternatives (CCPA) to develop principles and a methodology for calculating living-wage base lines for Vancouver and Victoria. This joint research group included representatives from UBC’s Sociology Department and Human Early Learning Partnership (HELP), independent social policy consultants, the Victoria Social Planning Council, the United Way of the Lower Mainland and BC’s Hospital Employees’ Union.

Findings were reviewed by First Call’s Living Wage Roundtable, low-income parents and a Vancity-organized employer focus group. In late September 2008, First Call and the CCPA released their research report: Working for a Living Wage: Making Paid Work Meet Basic Family Needs in Vancouver and Victoria. Focused on Greater Vancouver and Victoria, this report outlined the rationale and principles behind regional living wage standards, the significant benefits for both employees and employers and key successes noted by jurisdictions throughout the UK and U.S. where living wage standards are in place.

In fall 2008, on the heels of Working for a Living Wage’s release, First Call established a Living Wage Advisory Committee to oversee living wage campaign strategy, and in 2009 funds were raised for a campaign organizer.

In September 2016, Vancouver’s City Council committed the City of Vancouver to becoming a Living Wage Employer. The State of Sustainable Public Procurement in Canada created an article and background (page 14) on how the Living Wage Campaign relates to Canadian public spending.

“The project [City of Vancouver becoming a Living Wage Employer] highlighted the importance of working with the Living Wage for Families Campaign as a community partner, as their staff were able to connect the project team with organizations that have gone through the certification journey, liaise with the Employer Committee to ensure positive outcomes, and offer practical solutions that were scalable to a large supply chain.”

– Reeve Consulting (The State of Sustainable Public Procurement in Canada)

Learn More

Visit our campaign website to learn more and show your support!

Read Working for a Living Wage 2018: Making Paid Work Meet Basic Family Needs in Metro Vancouver

Check out the Greater Victoria Living Wage Campaign, hosted by the Community Social Planning Council of Greater Victoria

Check out the Fraser Valley Living Wage Campaign, hosted by Vibrant Abbotsford


This video features Seth Klein, past Director of CCPA-BC talking about the origins of the Living Wage for Families Campaign.  This 30-minute video is a must watch for anyone curious about the reason we focus on the family of four, the relationship between the living wage (as a voluntary employer undertaking) and public policy, and the way the calculation was established.

Our Funders

The Living Wage for Families Campaign wouldn’t be possible without our funders – BC Government Employees Union, BC Teachers Federation, Canadian Labour Congress, CUPEBC, Hospital Employees Union, Health Sciences Association BC, Union Food Commercial Workers 1518 and Vancity

A living wage is based on the principle that full-time work should provide families with a basic level of economic security, not keep them in poverty. The amount needed for a family of four with two parents working full time to pay for necessities, support the healthy development of their children, escape financial stress and participate in their communities.


– Working for a Living Wage, 2008