Making Paid Work Meet Basic Family Needs in Metro Vancouver

(Vancouver) The wage needed to cover the costs of raising a family in Metro Vancouver is virtually unchanged in the past year, however, child care and housing costs are major challenges for many families, a report released today finds.

The living wage is the calculation of the hourly wage that each of two working parents with two young children must earn to meet their basic expenses once government taxes, credits, deductions and subsidies are taken into account. The 2017 Metro Vancouver living wage is $20.62 per hour for each parent to meet basic expenses including rent, child care, food and transportation. This is a decrease of only two cents from 2016’s $20.64 per hour.

In 2017, the overall increase in expenses for Metro Vancouver was 2.6 per cent, slightly higher than the general inflation rate of 2.2 per cent, research for the report, Working for a Living Wage 2017: Making Paid Work Meet Basic Family Needs in Metro Vancouver, found. The report is published by the Canadian Centre for Policy Alternatives BC office, First Call: BC Child and Youth Advocacy Coalition and the Living Wage for Families Campaign.

“The decrease in the living wage rates demonstrates that good public policy can have a positive impact on the lives of families,” says Deanna Ogle, Living Wage for Families Campaign organizer. “However, without a provincial poverty reduction plan that includes increasing units of affordable housing and affordable child care, families will continue to struggle to make ends meet. Families are counting on whomever forms the next provincial government to do better on these important affordability issues.”

Child care and housing continue to be the two biggest costs in Metro Vancouver’s living wage calculation with child care rising by $44 per month and rent increasing by $50 over the last year. The Canada Child Benefit, a policy introduced by the federal government in July 2016, was substantial enough to offset significant cost increases for families. The Benefit is a tax-free, targeted, monthly payment intended to help families with the cost of raising children.

“A $20.62 hourly living wage may seem high to some but it is based on a bare-bones budget for a family of four in Metro Vancouver,” says Iglika Ivanova, CCPA senior economist and co-author of the report. “There’s a big gap between the wages many of our neighbours earn and the real costs of raising a family. About 34 per cent of Metro Vancouver’s two-parent families with two children had incomes less than the living wage in 2014 according to Statistics Canada data from tax files.”

This year, for the first time, the cost of an internet connection as well as two cell phones has been added instead of a landline, reflecting the fact that more families have internet connections at home and more Canadians now have mobile phones than landlines.

In addition to Metro Vancouver, 18 BC communities and regional districts calculate the living wage for their area. For the second year in a row there was a decrease to living wage rates in the Capital Regional District ($20.01), Revelstoke ($18.77), North East BC (Dawson Creek, Chetwyn, Tumbler Ridge) ($18.29), Kamloops ($16.90), Powell River ($16.75), District 69 (Parksville-Qualicum) ($16.44), North Central BC (Prince George and Quesnel) ($16.39), Comox Valley ($15.96) and the Fraser Valley ($15.90), where reports were also released today. The living wage only increased in the Clayoquot Sound Region ($20.11).

Over 80 companies and organizations across BC, employing more than 8,000 workers and covering many thousands more contract employees, have been certified as Living Wage Employers. These include Huu-ay-aht First Nations, Vancity, the United Way of the Lower Mainland, the City of Quesnel, the City of Port Coquitlam and ProActive Hazmat & Environmental. In 2015, the City of Vancouver committed to begin working towards implementing a living wage policy and six other BC local governments have living wage policies.

Working poverty is a Canada-wide issue. Over 50 communities across the country, including 20 in BC, have active living wage campaigns and are advocating to improve quality of life for low-wage workers.

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For interviews, contact

Deanna Ogle, Campaign Organizer, Living Wage for Families Campaign,
604-975-3347.
Iglika Ivanova, Senior Economist and Public Interest Researcher, Canadian Centre for Policy Alternatives (and co-author of the report), 604-801-5121 x 232.

www.livingwageforfamilies.ca

 

Community Living Wage Year Calculated
Metro Vancouver $20.62 2017
Clayoquot Sound $20.11 2017
Victoria (Capital Regional District) $20.01 2017
Revelstoke $18.77 2017
North East BC (Dawson Creek, Chetwyn, Tumbler Ridge) $18.29 2017
Kamloops $16.90 2017
Powell River $16.75 2017
Parksville/Qualicum (District 69) $16.44 2017
North Central BC (Prince George, Quesnel) $16.39 2017
Comox Valley $15.96 2017
Fraser Valley $15.90 2017
Nelson $18.42 2016
Lower Columbia Region $18.21 2016
100 Mile House $17.45 2016
Nanaimo $17.99 2015
Cowichan Region $17.55 2015
Port Alberni/Huu-ay-aht First Nation $17.22 2014

 

This blog was originally posted on the Living Wage for Families website by Deanna Ogle on April 26, 2017 and is re-posted here with permission.