A new report from the Canadian Centre for Policy Alternatives reveals living wage has increased across the province, and the highest is found on Vancouver Island’s west coast.
According to the report, Clayoquot Sound had the highest living wage for 2022 at $26.51 an hour. That was followed by the Sunshine Coast at $25.61, Powell River at $25.06, the Cowichan Valley at $25.20, Nanaimo at $22.87 and the Comox Valley at $22.02.
The minimum wage in the province is currently $16.75 an hour.
They say living wage is calculated to be enough for a family with two young children to cover the necessities, support the healthy development of their children, escape severe financial stress and participate in the social, civic and cultural lives of their communities.
The report adds that their findings in the Lower Mainland saw an average of $1,183 per month for food, $703 in out-of-pocket childcare, $533 for transport and another $279 in health care expenses.
Co-author and senior economist Iglika Ivanova says the living wage is rising as the cost-of-living increases, mainly because of the cost of rent and food.
“What is happening is even though we are seeing, in the labour market, increases in the average wage it’s not keeping pace with the increase in rent and food and housing,” said Ivanova.
Ivanova adds that food prices on Vancouver Island are quite expensive, and higher than most other places and part of that may have to do with shipping costs. She adds the tourism economy also does not work well with the high cost of housing.
“It used to be the case that the problem of sky-high rent was a problem of Metro Vancouver. But it has spread across the province and country,” said Ivanova.
On top of the high cost-of-living, Ivanova adds there is not much families can do to ease the burden.
A recent study from the Fraser Institute found that the yearly median income for Vancouver workers is lower than 58 other large urban areas in B.C., Alberta, Washington, Alaska, California, Oregon, Montana and Idaho surveyed.
The study found the median income in Vancouver is $37,300, compared to Seattle at over $61,000.
The Canadian Centre for Policy Alternatives is calling for governments to implement “tangible” strategies in response and for employers to pay employees sufficient wages to support families.