Equity, Diversity and Inclusion

Progress in becoming Living Wage certified

November 16, 2023

SFU has been diligently working towards certification as a Living Wage Employer. Earlier this month, SFU submitted a Living Wage Implementation Plan, in accordance with the Living Wage Employer’s Guide (April 2023), to Living Wages for Families BC. 

As part of this process, SFU has been following a phased approach to establish a living wage environment for SFU’s employees and, through negotiations with our contractors, for the employees of those contractors. 

A lot of progress has been made over the past year, as the university has worked towards the implementation of living wage commitments. Amendments to existing contracts have been drafted to include a living wage commitment for service contracts at SFU campuses. SFU has also successfully concluded collective bargaining with three of its unions (CUPE, Poly Party, TSSU) and one association (APSA). SFU and TSSU have reached agreement on the certified bargaining unit, though negotiations about research assistants remain outstanding as they are awaiting a ruling from the Labour Relations Board. 

In bargaining negotiations, SFU committed to paying a Living Wage to all eligible SFU employees, tabling monetary proposals that address Living Wage gaps. The applicable living wage rate of a minimum of $24.08 per hour (inclusive of employer-paid non-mandatory benefits) has been applied in collective bargaining. As the living wage is updated on an annual basis, the university will work towards meeting changes in accordance with Living Wages for Families BCguidelines.

When looking at the living wage rate, it is important to note that the rate takes into account the total compensation package. It includes direct wages and the value of non-mandatory benefits, such as paid sick leave and vacation leave, which are more than the minimum required by BC employment standards, education benefits, and extended health and dental coverage. As outlined by Living Wages for Families BC, employer-paid benefits reduce out-of-pocket costs for families, which reduces the hourly rate needed to meet family expenses. In addition, benefits which are available to a contractor’s employees from a source other than the employer, such as Campus benefits (e.g. recreational services, library privileges) and educational benefits (tuition waiver) are recognized as contributing to the living wage requirements. SFU is discussing arrangements to provide the Campus benefits . These Campus benefits could begin as early as the beginning of next year.

We will keep our community updated as we continue to make progress.