Living wage rises again in 2015; federal policies leave families struggling to cover basics

NEWS RELEASE

April 29, 2015

VANCOUVER – A report released today finds that the wage needed to cover the costs of raising a family in Metro Vancouver is $20.68 per hour.

This is the 2015 Metro Vancouver living wage rate, 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.

The 2015 Metro Vancouver living wage rose by 58 cents from the 2014 figure of $20.10/hour, according toWorking for a Living Wage 2015: Making Paid Work Meet Basic Family Needs in Metro Vancouvera report published by the Canadian Centre for Policy Alternatives’ BC officeFirst Call: BC Child and Youth Advocacy Coalition and the Metro Vancouver Living Wage for Families Campaign. This represents an increase of 2.9%, much higher than the general inflation rate of 1.1% for Vancouver.

Living wage rates have also risen faster than inflation for the Capital Regional District, School District 69 (Parksville-Qualicum) and the Fraser Valley to $20.05, $17.66 and $17.27 respectively, where reports were also released today.

“The Metro Vancouver living wage rate demonstrates what many families already know: costs are increasing at a rate much faster than any increases in wages,” says Deanna Ogle, the campaign organizer with the Living Wage for Families Campaign. “Thanks to the combination of a low-wage economy and lack of government supports, many families are struggling to make ends meet.”

Child care and shelter costs are the two biggest drivers of the living wage increase. Child care costs rose by $83 per month, while rent costs were up by $75 per month.

“Though a $20.68 hourly living wage rate seems high to some, it is important to remember that this 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 child care would significantly reduce the costs of raising a family and lower the living wage. For example, the proposed $10/Day Child Care Plan would reduce the Metro Vancouver living wage by $3.93 per hour, bringing it to $16.57. And a cross-Canada affordable child care system would cost about the same as what the federal government is planning to spend on income splitting and the Universal Child Care Benefit, policies which offer little benefit to low- and middle-income families and create no new child care spaces.”

One in five children in BC is poor, and BC is the last province in Canada without a poverty reduction strategy. The story of child poverty is very much a story of low wages. In 2011 (the last year for which we have data), one out of every three poor children (32%) lived in families where at least one adult had a full-time, full-year job and a majority lived in families with some paid work (part-year or part-time).

Thirty-seven organizations in Metro Vancouver, employing over 6,000 workers and covering many thousand more contracted service workers, have been certified as Living Wage Employers. These include SAP-Vancouver, Vancity, the Canadian Cancer Society – BC and Yukon Division, the City of New Westminster and Café Etico.

Working poverty is a Canada-wide issue. Thirty-seven communities across the country, including 18 in BC, have calculated their local living wages and are campaigning to improve quality of life for low-wage workers. Metro Vancouver is in the unenviable position of being the community with the highest living wage in Canada.

Download Working for a Living Wage 2015: Making Paid Work Meet Basic Family Needs in Metro Vancouverat policyalternatives.ca/livingwage2015.

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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

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