$17.40/HOUR REQUIRED FOR FRASER VALLEY FAMILIES TO MAKE ENDS MEET; COST OF RENTAL HOUSING MAIN REASON FOR INCREASE
$17.40 is the 2018 Fraser Valley living wage, the hourly wage is what two full-time working parents with two young children must each 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. This year, the Fraser Valley living wage was calculated by also including 6 months of the $100 per month Child Care Fee Reduction Initiative introduced April 1st by the provincial government. Without a 6-month fee reduction, the living wage would be $17.64/hour.
The 2018 Fraser Valley living wage rose by $1.50 from 2017 mostly due to the very high cost of rental housing, according to the Living Wage Fraser Valley 2018 Update, a report published by Living Wage Fraser Valley, hosted by Vibrant Abbotsford. The overall increase in expenses was 7.5%, much higher than the general inflation rate of 2.1% for British Columbia.
Despite a 6.6% increase in government tax credits and transfers, including a 50% reduction to the Medical Services Plan Premium and building in 6 months of the Child Care Fee Reduction Initiative implemented April 1st, they were not enough to offset the 42% increase in median rent for a 3+ bedroom unit across the Fraser Valley.
Shelter, childcare, and food were the biggest costs in the living wage calculation this year overall. However, the monthly childcare expense decreased by 8% over last year. Food, on the other hand, increased by 2%.
A $17.40 hourly living wage will be no surprise to anyone trying to make ends meet in the Fraser Valley. Last year, many believed the living wage should have been higher due to the cost of childcare and rental rates found on classifieds such as Craigslist. “There’s a big gap between the wages many of our neighbours earn and the real costs of raising a family,” says Iglika Ivanova, CCPA senior economist.
Living Wage Fraser Valley is calling on local employers, including our municipal governments, to voluntarily pay wages that reflect the actual costs of living in our community and become a certified Living Wage Employer. Over 110 companies and organizations across BC, employing more than 18,000 workers and covering many thousands more contracted service workers, have been certified as Living Wage Employers. These include United Way of the Lower Mainland, Vancity, SARA for Women, and Technaflora Plant Products.
Fraser Valley residents can support Living Wage campaigns, as well as policies and tax/transfer systems that make cost of living more affordable.