Vancity adopts living wage policy

Despite additional cost and challenges, initiative about ‘doing the right thing’
By Sarah Dobson
|Canadian HR Reporter|Last Updated: 08/15/2011

Vancity has become Canada’s largest employer to adopt a living wage policy. While this approach has its detractors — who claim it’s just one of several ways to help lift people out of poverty — the credit union claims it’s the right thing to do.

“It’s very consistent with Vancity’s vision of redefining wealth and focusing on the long-term well-being of the members we serve and the communities that they live and work in,” said Ellen Pekeles, vice-president of HR at Vancity in Vancouver. “It’s really important so that we can influence other organizations to do the same. It’s very, very hard, especially in Vancouver, to be living on minimum wage and so, not that a living wage makes you rich, but it actually helps you live beyond the threshold of poverty.”

Internally, the new policy won’t have a huge effect on the credit union as only about two dozen casual and on-call workers will see their wages rise, out of 2,300 employees. But, externally, Vancity has 1,200 suppliers across 45 industry sectors and if they provide 120 hours or more of service, they must include a living wage clause in their request for proposal.