Learning about a living wage in Parksville Qualicum Beach

Child-care plan also part of the discussion this Wednesday at Parksville Community Centre

Work should lift you out of poverty, not keep you there.

That’s the phrase being used by the District 69 Living Wage for Families Coalition to advertise its upcoming Community Forum this Wednesday, April 23, called Poverty in our Own Backyard.

The event is being held at the Parksville Community and Conference Centre April 23 from 7 p.m. to 9 p.m.

It will host three presenters from Vancouver who have been working on issues related to poverty for years, said chairperson of the coalition, Bill Preston. This includes Adrienne Montani from First Call B.C., a Child and Youth Advocacy Coalition which releases a Child Poverty report card each year.

Michael McCarthy-Flynn with the BC Living Wage Coalition will also be presenting at the event, along with Sharon Gregson, advocate for the $10-a-day Child Care Plan.

A living wage is different from the minimum wage, Preston explained. It is calculated separately in each region and represents the minimum people need to make hourly to meet basic living expenses such as food, clothing, shelter, transportation and child care. In District 69 the Living Wage is $17.80. This is the minimum two parents with two children can make, each working full-time, to stay above the poverty line.

Preston said one of the discoveries made by the local Living Wage for Families Coalition is that the key cost driver for the living wage in this area is not accommodation, but childcare.

“The reason we joined forces with the $10-a-day plan, is if the plan was in place, the living wage would go down to 13 dollars and change,” he said.

Also at the event will be all the local organizations who are delivering solutions to poverty, like Manna Homeless Society, the Society of Organized Services, the Salvation Army and a number of churches. Each will have a table with materials for the public to peruse.

Poverty in our Own Backyard invites people to learn more, stay informed on the issues both locally and provincially, and also to allow people to start making a difference, Preston said.

“What we challenge people in friendly way to do is to leave the meeting making a commitment to act,” said Preston.

He said there will be a number of easy ways for people at the event to take action.

This is the first event of its kind in the region hosted by the local Living Wage for Families Coalition and the group hopes to hold a larger conference in the fall which will include organizations from around the Island.

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