City of Winnipeg employees could be guaranteed a wage of at least $15 per hour by 2023.
On Tuesday, the executive policy committee passed a motion that all direct city employees be paid at least that amount, beginning that year, as long as council also approves the change.
Coun. Brian Mayes (St. Vital) has long-championed the idea of a "living wage," arguing the city should provide at least that income level.
"We can do that for our employees. I think that’s a fair thing to do," said Mayes.
The councillor noted the rate would not extend to those who work for contractors who provide city services. He estimates it would cost about $230,000 per year to implement the basic wage for direct city employees only.
The province’s minimum wage is currently $11.90/hr.
Advocates for a living wage have long-argued it is needed to ensure full-time workers don’t live in poverty and can afford to meet basic shelter, food and other needs.
The only EPC members who voted against the motion were Couns. Jeff Browaty (North Kildonan) and Scott Gillingham (St. James).
Gillingham expressed concerns the change could affect other City of Winnipeg labour costs and make them less sustainable for taxpayers.
Browaty questioned if the rate should apply to seasonal and part-time employees, arguing that group likely includes some students who still live with their parents.
Mayor Brian Bowman said he supported the motion in the hopes it will help about 13 per cent of city staff who don’t already make at least $15/hr.
"This was, I think, a modest step forward for something that has the potential to lift the livelihood of some of our valued employees up," said Bowman.
Born and raised in Winnipeg, Joyanne loves to tell the stories of this city, especially when politics is involved. Joyanne became the city hall reporter for the Winnipeg Free Press in early 2020.