2019 Living Wage for families in Greater Victoria: $19.39/hr for a two parent household with two children
Household expenses for raising a family in British Columbia increased again from 2018 to 2019. And if it hadn’t been for government policy—most notably BC’s new Affordable Child Care Benefit—the increase would have been close to ten thousand dollars, says the Community Social Planning Council of Greater Victoria, in its 2019 Living Wage report released today.
However, new government policy initiatives actually reduced the living wage for eligible families. The Affordable Child Care Benefit, the Child Care Fee Reduction Initiative, and cuts to MSP premiums actually outweighed the increased cost of living, and reduced the wage needed to form a living wage.
“This demonstrates that good government policy can be an effective tool for reducing poverty,” says Diana Gibson, CSPC Senior Researcher and co-author of the report, “and it shows the great opportunities for making change in other key areas – like housing – that are driving that cost of living.”
A $19.39 hourly wage is needed to cover the costs of raising a family in Greater Victoria, down from $20.50 per hour in 2018. The Living Wage is the hourly wage that two working parents with two young children, aged 4 and 7, must earn to meet their basic expenses (including rent, child care, food, and transportation), once government taxes, credits, deductions and benefits have been taken into account. The family Living Wage for our region is calculated annually by the Community Social Planning Council of Greater Victoria (CSPC).
“A $19.39 hourly living wage may seem high to some, but it is based on a bare-bones budget for a family of four in our region,” said Diana Gibson. “It doesn’t include any savings for vacations, childrens’ education, retirement, caring for elderly parents, or home purchase.”
Housing and child care continue to be the two biggest costs in the living wage calculation. Over the last year, the median rent for a 3+ bedroom unit in Greater Victoria has gone up by $135 per month, more than an 8 per cent increase. In some areas of the region, this increase is much more pronounced. Child care costs are high, but are nearly covered by the federal and BC child-related benefits.
“While the decline in living wage for families this year is welcome, the cost of living is on a long-term upward trend. And the cost of living in the Greater Victoria region is one of the highest in BC,” said Halena Seiferling, Campaign Organizer for the Living Wage for Families Campaign. Living wage reports for several locations in BC also were released today.
Over 140 employers across BC, employing more than 20,000 workers, have been certified as Living Wage Employers. These include the Huu-ay-aht First Nations, Vancity, the United Way of the Lower Mainland, the City of Quesnel, the City of Port Coquitlam, and in Greater Victoria, certified Living Wage Employers include Central Saanich, the City of Victoria, Pacifica Housing, Urban Solar, and Community Plus, the Vancouver and District Labour Council, to name a few.
Working poverty is a Canada-wide issue. Over 50 communities across the country, including 18 in BC, have active living wage campaigns and are advocating to improve quality of life for low-wage workers.