Vancity becomes the largest organization in Canada to adopt living wage policy

Vancity becomes the largest organization in Canada to adopt living wage policy

Vancouver, British Columbia.  As Canada’s largest credit union celebrates its 65th anniversary, it is timely that Vancity sets a precedent as the largest organization in Canada to become a Living Wage Employer.  A living wage is different than the minimum wage; it reflects an income a family provider must bring home in order to meet their basic living needs.

Vancity announced today that all of its employees and service providers will benefit from their commitment to the Living Wage policy. Vancity is joining a growing number of employers being certified under Metro Vancouver’s Living Wage Employer Program who have recognized the social and economic benefits of paying a living wage.

Approximately 25% of couples with children in Greater Vancouver live below the Living Wage level. The current minimum wage in British Columbia is $8.75 per hour, the current hourly living wage for Metro Vancouver is $18.81 per hour.

“Paying a living wage to our employees and service providers will help make families stronger and communities healthier. British Columbia has the highest cost of living yet the lowest minimum wage in Canada,” said Tamara Vrooman, President and Chief Executive Officer, Vancity. “We want to be part of a community that invests in the long-term prosperity of individuals and the economy”.

“Our focus has always been on making an impact in the communities we serve and helping our members achieve financial success,” said Patrice Pratt, Chair, Vancity Board of Directors. “This initiative is very much aligned with our values of building wealth in the communities where we live and work.”

At a Vancity celebration event held in Vancouver today, Seth Klein, BC Director of the Canadian Centre for Policy Alternatives said, “For those organizations who long to seek an end to child poverty, this is truly where the rubber hits the road. The living wage is an important policy initiative for organizations to adopt and has the potential to improve the lives of low income individuals and families with children, and make a broad impact in society.”

People who work for low wages face challenging choices: buy clothes or heat the house, feed the children or pay the rent. The result can be spiraling debt, constant anxiety and long-term health problems. In many cases it means adults in the family are working long hours, often at two or three jobs, just to pay for basic necessities.

Michael McKnight, President and CEO United Way of the Lower Mainland, “We congratulate Vancity on becoming a Living Wage employer. United Way is also proud to be a Living Wage organization and like Vancity we are also encouraging other organizations to adopt the Living Wage policy. Too many British Columbians are working harder than ever to stand still. The Living Wage initiative provides a crucial way forward to join with others to build the foundation for a stronger community.”

Did you know?

  • BC has the highest child poverty rate in Canada
  • The majority of BC’s poor children live in families with income from paid work, with over 1/3 having at least one adult working full-time.
  • Approximately 25% of the couples with children in Greater Vancouver live below the Living Wage level
  • 80% of the factors that effect childhood development, as identified by the Chief Public Health Officer, improve as family income increases

Source: First Call 2010 Child Poverty Report Card, Source: Statistics Canada, 2006 Census, Catalogue No. 97, Report on the State of Public health in Canada 2009, Chief Public Health Officer. For more information on the 2011 Living Wage report

Recently Vancity reported the best earnings in its history and achieved a record of $213 million in impact lending, through their Community Investment Division.

Vancity shares approximately one-third of its annual profits through its Shared Success program and this year $23.5 million will be returned to members and the community.

In 2008, Vancity was the first North American-based financial institution to become carbon neutral and worked to challenge itself  and other organizations to raise their game in fighting climate change. Vancity will be sharing the knowledge gained from adopting this  complex Living Wage initiative and hopes to encourage other businesses and organizations to follow.

For more information about Metro Vancouver’s Living Wage Employer Program see

About Vancity:
You’re part of something greater when you do business with Vancity.  We’re committed to making a positive impact on the quality of life where we live and work and beyond. Since 1994, we have invested over $194 million of our profits back to members and into the communities we serve. Vancity is a member of the Global Alliance for Banking on Values – a network of the world’s leading sustainable banks sharing the commitment to achieving triple bottom line impact through responsible banking practices. Vancity is Canada’s largest credit union, with $14.5 billion in assets, more than 417,000 members and 59 branches throughout Metro Vancouver, the Fraser Valley, Victoria and Squamish. More information about Vancity is available at

Media Contact:
Lorraine Wilson