Community members in Metro Vancouver are feeling the squeeze as they pay, every day, for their necessities.
As inflation and rising costs, especially for housing and food, continue to rack up, Metro Vancouver’s living wage has climbed to $25.68 per hour for 2023 — a six per cent rise from the previous year.
The living wage, calculated in a report by the Canadian Centre for Policy Alternatives BC Office and Living Wage for Families BC, is the hourly rate that each of two parents working full-time must earn to support a family of four.
The report found that Metro Vancouver families have to spend on average $4,000 more this year for the “same basket of goods.”
“Although inflation has dropped from last year’s historic highs, the cost of living across B.C. continues to increase rapidly,” said Iglika Ivanova, CCPA-BC senior economist and the report’s lead author.
While parents with young children in licensed child care have largely benefitted from price reductions in 2023, the savings are being entirely consumed by soaring prices in other areas, the report said.
Housing costs have demanded an extra $411 per month, a spike of nearly 17 per cent from 2022.
Food is the second most expensive expense in the living wage family budget and has grown by more than $68 a month from last year — an increase of 6.1 per cent.
Living wages in other B.C. communities are in the mid-20s as well, with Greater Victoria at $25.40, Kelowna at $24.60, and Prince George at $22.09.
According to the report, many B.C. employers have upped their pay to at minimum match the living wage in their areas, with nearly 400 companies being “certified Living Wage Employers.”
One of those companies is LaFarge Canada, a Canadian construction company.
“We’re proud to be a Living Wage Employer. By having a living wage as the minimum compensation for our employees, we are providing our employees with the pay they require for their well-being and success. We enable them to not only enhance their own lives but also deepen the relationships within their community,” said Lincoln Kyne, Lafarge Canada’s B.C. and U.S. Pacific Northwest’s senior vice president.
“The living wage commitment builds community resilience in these times of high inflation. It also recognizes the hard work of our employees and their contribution to the company and benefits us all.”
The report said that with living costs being so expensive, many are facing the reality of having to choose between necessities such as buying groceries or paying rent on time.
“In the last two years, the gap between the minimum wage and living wages in B.C. has grown significantly. In Metro Vancouver, this gap is now close to $9 per hour,” says Anastasia French, provincial manager for Living Wage for Families BC.
“B.C.’s low-wage workers need a raise but the labour market alone can’t resolve all economic insecurities,” she said.
French called on the B.C. government to provide more help for those struggling to meet their bills.