From minimum wage to the Living Wage.

We’ve all heard of the minimum wage. But have you heard of the Living Wage? The idea is that companies should ensure that their lowest-paid workers receive wages that let them meet their basic needs and support their families. The Living Wage, which varies from one area of the country to another based on cost of living, is calculated as the compensation two full-time wage earners need to support themselves and two young children. Many financial services companies in the U.K. have Living Wage policies, including Barclays, Goldman Sachs and HSBC. In Canada, Vancity Savings Credit Union is the largest certified Living Wage employer.


VCIM is very active in encouraging companies to adopt a Living Wage policy. In 2015, we asked four major banks – Scotiabank, RBC, TD and CIBC – to assess their compensation practices and review the feasibility of adopting a Living Wage. In 2016, VCIM filed similar requests with Manulife, Sun Life and BCE.


We found that Scotiabank, RBC, TD and CIBC either met the Living Wage threshold or committed to addressing deficiencies. However, none committed to becoming certified Living Wage employers.

Manulife agreed to review its compensation practices and discuss the results with us. Sun Life completed a review and agreed to present the results to the company’s senior executive team to assess whether a Living Wage policy was feasible. BCE found that employees who over the past three years were below the Living Wage either moved into higher-paying roles or were making an hourly Living Wage on a part-time basis.

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