A report released Wednesday finds that the wage needed to cover the costs of raising a family in the Fraser Valley is $15.90 per hour.
This is the 2017 Fraser Valley living wage, the hourly wage that two working parents with two young children must earn to meet their basic expenses after government taxes, credit, deductions and subsidies have been taken into account.
The basic expenses factored into the living wage include rent, child care, food and transportation.
The living wage decreased for a second year in a row by 38 cents from the 2016 figure of $16.28 per hour.
Deanna Ogle, campaign organizer with the Living Wage for Families Campaign, said the reduction is because the Canada Child Benefit – a policy introduced by the federal government in July 2016 – was substantial enough to offset significant cost increases for families.
“The decrease in the living wage rates demonstrates that good public policy can have a positive impact on the lives of families,” she said.
“However, without a provincial poverty reduction plan that includes increasing units of affordable housing and affordable child care, families will continue to struggle to make ends meet. Families are counting on whomever forms the next provincial government to do better on these important affordability issues.”
This year, for the first time, the living wage has factored in an internet connection and two cellphones instead of a landline, reflecting the fact that more families have internet connections at home and more Canadians now have mobile phones than landlines.
Housing and child care continue to be the two biggest costs in the living wage calculation.
Over the last year, rent went up by $150 per month, while child care rose by $72 per month.
The overall increase in expenses was 3.8 per cent, substantially higher than the annual inflation rate of two per cent for British Columbia.
Iglika Ivanova, CCPA senior economist and co-author of the report, said a $15.90 hourly living wage is based on a bare-bones budget for a family of four.
“There’s a big gap between the wages many of our neighbours earn and the real costs of raising a family,” she said. “About 25 per cent of Abbotsford-Mission’s two-parent families with two children had incomes less than the living wage in 2014, according to Statistics Canada data from tax files.”
The Fraser Valley living wage covers the communities of Abbotsford, Mission, Chilliwack, Hope and Boston Bar.
More than 80 companies and organizations across B.C., employing more than 8,000 workers and covering many thousands more contracted service workers, have been certified as living wage employers.
Those in the Fraser Valley include Pacific Community Resources Society, Mission Skills Centre Society, Vancity, Mount Lehman Credit Union, United Way Fraser Valley, Big Brothers Big Sisters Fraser Valley, and SARA for Women.