A new report says Metro Vancouver’s living wage, the hourly wage needed to meet basic expenses, is much higher than British Columbia’s minimum wage.
A report from the group Living Wage for Families BC says two full-time working parents each need to earn $20.52 an hour in order to cover basic expenses like rent, child care, food and transportation.
B.C.’s minimum wage is currently $15.20 an hour, more than $5 less than the living wage.
The highest increases across B.C. were the cost of housing and telecommunications, the report said. In Metro Vancouver, the cost of housing rose 8.6 per cent and telecommunications six per cent.
“The living wage would actually be $2 an hour higher if it wasn’t for things like child-care subsidies, the Canada child benefit, the elimination of MSP. Various different kinds of government policies have actually lowered the living wage. It could be it be a lot higher than it is,” Anastasia French of Living Wage for Families BC said.
“Having said that, what we’d like is for the government to take the same kind of initiative that they’ve done with trying to reduce the cost of child care and move on to housing, because that’s the big issue for all families across B.C. whether you’ve got children or not.”
B.C.’s 2021 living wage is about $1 more per hour more than in 2019. The group did not calculate the living wage for 2020 due to the COVID-19 pandemic.
The group points out the living wage in all the communities for which it is calculated is higher than B.C.’s minimum wage.
French said the group wants to encourage more employers to pay staff a living wage.
“We’ve actually found a 50-per-cent increase in the number of living wage employers joining the program this year because they realized that during the pandemic, the most important thing to their success is making sure that their staff are taken care of,” she said.
“Also some employers are struggling to hire at the moment, and they’re finding that paying a living wage is one of the solutions through it.”