A new report outlines how rising living costs are making it harder for B.C. families to make ends meet.
Every year, the Canadian Centre for Policy Alternatives publishes a “living wage report” that calculates the hourly wage two parents must earn to support a family of four.
“This would include food, shelter, child care and other essentials that would have to be covered by a family budget,” said Anastasia French, a Living Wage for Families BC spokesperson.
This year, Metro Vancouver’s living wage is $24.08 an hour, which is a 17 per cent jump from last year.
It’s the highest increase ever recorded in the region since living wages were first calculated in 2008.
Also for the first time, Victoria’s living wage has surpassed Metro Vancouver – sitting at $24.29 an hour.
The report said the wage is higher in Victoria due to “the increased cost of food on Vancouver Island.”
The two most expensive costs for families in B.C. are food and shelter.
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“In Metro Vancouver, food costs $1,114 per month, an increase of $161 per month or 16.9 per cent since last year,” the report said.
The report’s author said this year’s 17 per cent jump can be attributed to the ballooning prices of food and rent even though the B.C. government has taken steps toward saving parents money.
“Until this year the living wage across most of B.C. remained below its 2018 peak because policy changes introduced by the B.C. provincial government significantly improved affordability for families with young children and offset increases in the cost of food, housing and other essentials,” said report lead author Iglika Ivanova, a senior economist at CCPA-BC.
“However, the savings generated by these policy changes, including significant child care investments and the elimination of MSP premiums, have now been effectively wiped out by ballooning rent and food costs.”
Comparing the new living wage to B.C.’s minimum wage of $15.65 per hour, there is a significant gap of almost $10.
Large increases in the living wage were recorded all over B.C., including the Okanagan.
Kelowna has a 23.7 per cent increase in its living wage from 2021, which is now sitting at $22.88.