Living wage drops to $16.76

The amount needed to raise a family in the area has gone down for the first time in an eight-year provincial living wage campaign.

The amount needed to raise a family in Parksville Qualicum Beach area has gone down for the first time in an eight-year provincial living wage campaign.

“The impact is from the changes in child support services, primarily through the federal government,” said District 69 Living Wage’s Rick Sullivan.

“That’s actually a good thing because it shows the value of progressive taxation policies. It means that those people who have greater need, people with lesser income, can be benefited.”

The living wage is a calculation of what a family of two working parents with two young children must each earn per hour to meet their basic expenses.

In this area that wage has dropped from $17.66 last year, to $16.76 for each full-time working parent.

The calculation includes rent, childcare, food, transportation and all taxes, credits, deductions and subsidies.

Sullivan said while it might sound like a fair bit to some people, “it’s really bare bones” and doesn’t include any debt payment, student loans, recreation, entertainment, holidays or any kind of saving for retirement, emergencies or tough times in general.

It also doesn’t account for anything like disabilities or other considerable expenses that some families have.

The Working for a Living Wage 2016 report published by the Canadian Centre for Policy Alternatives, First Call: B.C. Child and Youth Advocacy Coalition and the Living Wage for Families Campaign attributes the decrease to the expansion of the Canada Child Benefit announced in this year’s federal budget.

“Childcare and housing are the two biggest costs in the living wage calculation,” said a news release. “Childcare rose by $32 per month, while rent was up by $75.” The overall increase in living expenses for the symbolic family was 3.1 per cent, compared to the general inflation rate of 1.2 per cent.

The living wage is different for each area — $20.64 per hour in Vancouver for example — and while it decreased in most of the areas, District 69 had one of the biggest decreases.

“The decrease in the living wage rates demonstrates that good public policy can have a positive impact on the lives of families,” said Deanna Ogle, Living Wage for Families Campaign organizer in the release. “However, without the provincial government stepping up as an equal partner, we see that federal policies can only help balance out rising costs.”

“B.C. is the only province in Canada without a poverty reduction plan. Families are counting on the provincial government to do better,” she said.

The report said that in Metro Vancouver 38 per cent of two-parent families with two children had incomes below the living wage, according to 2013 Statistics Canada data.

Fifty-seven organizations in B.C. have been certified as Living Wage Employers, including Vancity, the Canadian Cancer Society, the City of New Westminster and the Huu-ay-aht First Nation in Port Alberni.

School District 69 (Qualicum) committed to becoming a Living Wage Employer in 2012 and Sullivan said they are in the final stage and should become the first certified school district in the province.

He previously pointed out that while direct SD69 employees are above the living wage anyway, all of their contractors also have to pay a living wage.

Sullivan said the City of Vancouver is also poised to be a living wage employer, “which would be huge.”

Check http://livingwageforfamilies.ca for more information.

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