The Ucluelet First Nation has become the second nation in British Columbia to offer a living wage to its government employees.
In Ucluelet, that wage is considered to be $20.11 per hour.
“This living wage is huge for our people,” Ucluelet First Nation president Les Doiron said. “The cost of living is extremely high where we live and I wanted to ensure our people do not suffer unfairly as a result. That is why I made adopting a living wage policy a priority.”
Four Ucluelet First Nation employees will benefit from the living wage increase. Employees were previously earning between $16 and $18 per hour before the announcement, according to Ucluelet First Nation statistics.
A living wage is the hourly amount a typical family—two full-time working parents, two children—needs to cover basic expenses.
“One of the big things is what this does,” Doiron said. “My assistant has worked two and three jobs for quite some time. She is ecstatic because it’s going to help her not having to work and worry about that [extra] job.”
“It means I won’t have to work a second job and I can spend more time with my family,” said Celena Cook, Doiron’s assistant.
Working in a remote community like Ucluelet, with a high cost of living, seasonal jobs and regular employment sometimes hard to come by, can be challenging, Doiron said.
The living wage will help alleviate that challenge for Ucluelet employees.
The Ucluelet have been a treaty nation since April 2, 2011, which means it can make such decisions under self-governance.
“As a treaty nation, we are free to make our own decisions, in accordance with our own laws,” he said. “Being self-governed allows us to do this.”
Doiron, in his third year as president of the Ucluelet, lives in Port Alberni and has an office in South Port.
Of the 700 band members, 200 live in Ucluelet and 500 are urban members—many living in the Alberni Valley.
The first treaty nation to offer a living wage to its employees was Huu-ay-aht First Nations, also based in Port Alberni.