Massy Books becomes 1st bookstore in B.C. to be certified as a living wage employer
Owner Patricia Massy said she was inspired by a bookstore in Edmonton that had done the same
An Indigenous-owned bookstore in Vancouver has become the first bookstore in the province to be certified as a living wage employer by the Living Wage for Families in B.C.
Massy Books is an independent bookstore dedicated to spotlighting underrepresented and local voices in B.C., owned and operated by Patrica Massy, who is of mixed Cree, Métis and English descent.
Living Wage for Families in B.C. is a non-profit organization advocating for policies that help families make ends meet, and calculates the living wage amount annually for residents in the province.
Massy says she was inspired to take the leap when she heard about a bookstore in Edmonton that had done the same.
"A couple of weeks ago, we saw that our friends over at Glass Bookshop announced that they became a living wage employer," Massy told CBC News.
"So after doing a little research ... I decided to make the decision to commit to it, which also means committing to yearly increases [in employee wages] as well."
A living wage is the amount of hourly income an individual needs to cover basic expenses, which include food, rental housing, transportation costs, clothing and — for families with children — child care.
Massy says she has always been interested in becoming a living wage employer, and that more than half of the bookstore's staff had already been making a living wage so she decided to commit to it fully.
Anastasia French, campaigns and operations organizer at Living Wage for Families B.C., says Massy contacted the organization last month to find out more on how to become a living wage employer.
"She contacted us at the start of this year ... and we were excited because we know that the retail sector, broadly bookstores and other stores, are traditionally very low-pay sectors," French said.
"There might be other bookstores that are listening and they [may want to] pay more than $20.52 an hour — we encourage them to get in touch with us."
The living wage for Metro Vancouver in 2021 is $20.52 per hour, according to the organization — much higher than B.C.'s minimum wage of $15.20 per hour.
French says being certified as a living wage employer comes with benefits in addition to becoming part of a network of more than 300 other businesses that pay a living wage.
"Ninety-seven per cent of living wage employers in B.C. have found some kind of benefit to joining the program," she said. "There's a positive impact in terms of being able to recruit more staff, retain staff."
According to the organization, family expenses have increased by as much as seven per cent since 2019, which is more than the rate of general inflation.
"We are taking the health and wellness of our staff seriously," Massy said.
"We don't want to keep our staff imprisoned on minimum wage. We want people to thrive and prosper in the city."
With files from The Early Edition