WINNIPEG VOTES: Bokhari guarantees dwelling wage for metropolis employees

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Rana Bokhari says if she’s elected mayor City of Winnipeg workers will collect a living wage.

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While there are many estimates as to what constitutes a living wage, Bokhari says that $18.34 is the benchmark to shoot for. Over the next four years, those collecting the current starting wage of $14 will see their pay bumped by a dollar.

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Bokhari’s campaign estimates that there are roughly 1,000 full-time equivalent positions within the city that are making less than a living wage. The cost of this promise is estimated to be $1.8 million a year.

Once wages hit the designated living wage, they will be tied to inflation going forward.

“If you work full-time, you should be able to support yourself and your family,” Bokhari said in a news release.

“Winnipeg will be a leader in this. We will work with our unions to make sure their collective agreements reflect this as we move forward, and non-unionized employees will see their wages rise incrementally over the next four years until they reach that threshold.”

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Bokhari’s announcement comes as Winnipeg’s largest union has set a deadline for the city to offer what CUPE Local 500 calls an “acceptable deal.” If the city fails to offer a deal, 5,000 city workers will strike starting midnight on Wednesday, Oct. 12.

“The City of Winnipeg is losing staff and has a recruitment crisis which is only going to get worse if workers are not feeling supported with real wage increases,” reads a statement from CUPE. “We regret that the employer has not taken action to work with us to avoid a strike.”

Bokhari says that if the city does not implement a living wage, employee retention and recruitment will only grow more difficult.

“Winnipeg used to be a provincial benchmark for wages, but wages haven’t been rising fast enough and we’ve been losing staff. You can see it in the decline in the quality of services like 311, and the fact that wading pool season was cut short this year due to a lack of staff,” Bokhari said.

Winnipeggers head to the polls on Oct. 26 to elect a new mayor and council.

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