Living wage needed

Chamber of Commerce executive director Kim Burden zeroed in on a key problem in our local economy.

Chamber of Commerce executive director Kim Burden’s recent column on your business page caught my attention (Lower the average age and raise the wage, Nov. 19).

He has zeroed in on a key problem in our local economy since the transition from resources to services. As he put it: “Most jobs are in the lower-paying service sector and that’s not economically sustainable.”

As those of us who are promoting the Living Wage for Families know, and numerous studies show, workers who earn a liveable income spend almost all their money in the community. Our analysis shows that each of a two-working-parent family of four need to earn $17.30 an hour in Oceanside just to maintain a basic living. That does not include expensive vacations, accumulation of savings or new cars; it does include basic health care premiums, child care for both children so their parents can work and the minimum basic food, shelter, clothing, transportation and other essentials. One of the most expensive costs in the living wage is for child care, a service that can only be provided in the community.

There is no way a healthy community can afford to build its economy on the backs of the lowest-paid workers.

One thing the downtown business managers or their business associations could do to reduce that living wage requirement would be to organize a day-care program in or near the work place. Another option would be to lobby our local MLAs to put in place family support programs.

We look forward to seeing the economic development model he promises will appear soon on the chamber’s website.

John Olsen

District 69 Living Wage Coalition

Parksville

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