A report released Thursday by the Living Wage for Families campaign has found that the wage needed to cover the costs of raising a family in Metro Vancouver has risen 2.4% in the past year, higher than the general inflation rate of 0.2%.
The 2014 Metro Vancouver living wage rate is the hourly wage that two working parents with two young children must earn to meet their basic expenses (including rent, child care, food and transportation), once government taxes, credits, deductions and subsidies have been taken into account. This year’s living wage rose by 48 cents to $20.10/hour from last year’s $19.62/hour.
“The Metro Vancouver living wage rate has crossed an important threshold – it is now over twenty dollars – almost double the current minimum wage,” says Michal McCarthy Flynn, Campaign organizer with the Living Wage for Families Campaign. “The stark reality of this is that workers in minimum wage jobs in Metro Vancouver have to work two jobs just to make ends meet.”
According to the report, child care and shelter costs are the two big drivers of the living wage increase. Child care costs rose by $48 per month, while rent costs were up by $50 per month. Other items in the family budget that saw increases higher than inflation were clothing and footwear (2%), MSP premiums (4%) and non-MSP healthcare expenditures (2%). MSP premiums rose in 2014 for the fifth consecutive year and have added $30.50 to the family’s monthly expenses since the Metro Vancouver living wage was first calculated in 2008.
“Though a $20.10 hourly living wage rate may be a surprise to some, it is important to remember that this high wage rate reflects, in part, a failure of public policy to ensure affordability and a decent quality of life for all families,” says Iglika Ivanova, CCPA economist and co-author of the report. “Investing in universal affordable childcare, more affordable rental and social housing, or better public transportation would significantly reduce the costs of raising a family and lower the living wage. For example, the $10/Day Child Care Plan proposed by the Child Care Advocates of BC and the Early Childhood Educators of BC would reduce the Metro Vancouver living wage by $3.57 per hour, bringing it to $16.53.”
BC now has the highest child poverty rate in Canada, and has ranked worst in Canada for nine out of the last ten years.
“The living wage is one of the most powerful tools available to address BC’s troubling state of child poverty and working poverty more broadly,” says McCarthy Flynn. “It calls on employers to pay wages that reflect the actual costs of living in their communities.”
Featured Image: Calculator cost of living via Shutterstock