Regina city administration to research living wage policy

The City of Regina is looking into adopting a living wage policy for all workers employed by the city.

Coun. Shawn Fraser says wages should provide basics for families

A living wage policy was one of the items under discussion at Regina City Hall on Monday. (CBC)

Regina City Council is directing its administration to look into adopting a living wage policy.

The motion was brought forward by Coun. Shawn Fraser, who argued a living wage is what employees need to provide the basics for their families and can be different than the minimum wage.

Theoretically, such a wage would apply not only to the city's direct employees, but also to the employees of subcontractors.

Fraser said the living wage for the City of Regina has been suggested by the Canadian Centre for Policy Alternatives to be $16.46 per hour. He said it's a step in the direction of becoming the best city in Canada. 

"I think personally that becoming a living wage employer would be really good for the city trying to fulfil our vision," Fraser said. 

Research into a living wage

The original motion asked for administration to research the cost, logistics and impact of adopting such a policy, and to have this research be considered as part of the 2017 budget process. 

However, several city councillors expressed concern over the timeline. 

A referral motion was proposed by Coun. Wade Murray, requesting that the research be considered as part of the 2018 budget instead.   

"I think the spirit and I think the concept is really good, but there's a lot of moving pieces," Murray told council.

Mayor Michael Fougere voiced some concern over the original timeline as well, due to the possible impact a living wage could have on work with contractors and organizations the city does business with. 

"I do not support having it in the 2017 budget because it's premature. The budget process has begun for 2017, this is superimposing it on there. I'd like to see more information given so we can make an informed decision," Fougere said. 

Murray's referral motion carried, meaning the research that's gathered will be considered as part of the 2018 budget process. 

Other cities, including Edmonton, Vancouver and Toronto are already taking steps toward being living wage employers, according to Fraser.