Treaty First Nation in B.C. votes to implement living-wage policy for workers

PORT ALBERNI, B.C. – A Vancouver Island First Nation is implementing a living-wage policy, boosting the pay of some of its workers by almost $7 an hour.

Port Alberni’s Huu-ay-aht (who-way-at) First Nation says members of the executive council voted to implement policy on Friday.

Unlike a minimum wage, a living wage takes into account families’ needs to cover their basic expenses.

The minimum wage in B.C. is $10.25 per hour, but the Huu-ay-aht say they have calculated the living wage for Port Alberni at $17.22 per hour or $33,579 annually.

The Huu-ay-aht say it will become the first band in Canada to adopt such a policy and is following in the footsteps of the City of New Westminster which implemented a similar policy in May 2010.

The band is one of five Maa-nulth First Nations, which implemented a modern-day treaty with the federal and provincial governments in 2011.

“The treaty has given us the ability to make decisions based on our values and goals, and implement those decisions in accordance with our own laws,” says Coun. Tom Mexsis Happynook.

“The living-wage policy shows how the treaty gives us the ability to chart our own future.”