Bring Surrey a living wage, former councillor says

Gary Robinson expected to run again for a civic seat this November.

Gary Robinson

A former city councillor wants to bring back a “living wage” policy to Surrey, where contractors hired by the city would be required to pay their employees a healthy wage.

Gary Robinson brought the policy to Surrey back in 1993, under the left-leaning Surrey Civic Electors and then-Mayor Bob Bose.

Four years later, the policy was later spiked by Mayor Doug McCallum and his free enterprise Surrey Electors’ Team.

Robinson, who is expected to run under the Surrey Civic Coalition this November, wants to bring that policy back.

It would mean Surrey would require as part of its tendering process that employees of the successful bidder must pay a set amount, likely between $16 and $20 an hour, Robinson said.

He doesn’t believe it would mean more expensive contracts for Surrey taxpayers.

“It doesn’t have to,” Robinson said Tuesday. “It might make for less profit for some contractors, but it doesn’t necessarily have to make for more expensive contracts.”

He also dismisses the notion that contractors will hire fewer people if employees cost more.

“If you’ve got a contract, you want the work done as soon as possible, so you can get on to the next contract,” Robinson said. “You’re not going to cut your workforce in half and take twice as long to do the job.”

He notes that the position on fair wage is just good policy and should cut across party lines.

“The future lives in Surrey, we’d like the future to be fair,” he said.

kdiakiw@surreyleader.com