Living wage group calls for change

It costs a lot to live in Oceanside and new organization says that should be reflected in wages

Jill McCaffery says plan doesn’t call for provincial legislation.

Jill McCaffery says plan doesn’t call for provincial legislation.

If people are going to live and work in Oceanside, they need to be paid a living wage, says Jill McCaffery.

That’s why she, along with several other groups and individuals met recently to form the District 69 Living Wage Coalition.

The group intends to promote the idea of paying a living wage to all working families in the Oceanside area so they can afford the basic amenities offered here.

“British Columbia has one of the highest rates of child poverty in the country and poverty is a major concern,” she said. “How do we address that? One way is with a living wage.”

The people attending the founding meeting represented the Canadian Union of Public Employees (3570); Hospital Employees Union; Parksville-Qualicum KAIROS; Mount Arrowsmith Teachers’ Association; Oceanside Coalition for Strong Communities; and Canadian Federation of University Women- Parksville/Qualicum.  Also attending were council members Barry Avis of Qualicum Beach, Sue Powell of Parksville, and School Trustee Bill Preston.

Paul Grinder of the Oceanside Coalition for Strong Communities, in co-operation with the Canadian Centre for Policy Alternatives is currently calculating what a living wage would be to support a family of four in District 69.

The formula calculates the hourly rate of pay required for two full-time working adults supporting one pre-school child and one in-school child.

McCafferey said the group isn’t necessarily looking to lobby the provincial government to raise the minimum wage. Rather, she is hoping to raise awareness and convince business owners to take a bigger view when deciding what to pay their employees.

“We aren’t looking for provincial legislation at this point,” she said. “The idea is kind of like a domino, in that it promotes systemic change, as opposed to having to force people to do it.”

Without a living wage in place, she said, society pays in other ways.

“It costs on the other end if we don’t, in terms of social support payments, hospitalization and various, other costs it costs to our society,” she said.

The first step in the campaign, she said, involves education and to that end, the coalition is looking to contact community groups look into the idea and attend a series of roundtable discussions, at a date to be determined later in the fall.

For more information, email to or contact Jill McCaffery at 250-228-1224.