Each parent in a family of four needs to make $17.02 an hour in order to obtain basic needs and “maintain a decent standard of living,” says a local group.
Living Wage Fraser Valley (LWFV), hosted by Vibrant Abbotsford, has calculated the “living wage” for the area from Abbotsford to Hope/Boston Bar, including Mission.
The figure was released yesterday.
A living wage is calculated based on a budget for a healthy family of four with two children aged four and seven, and each parent working 35 hours a week for 52 weeks a year.
It takes into account basic expenses such as food, housing, childcare, clothing and transportation, once government taxes, credits, deductions and subsidies have been factored in.
The living wage does not consider home ownership, debt, holidays, saving for retirement or a child’s education, or caring for a disabled, ill or elderly family member.
This year’s calculation is up four per cent from the 2013 figure of $16.37.
Vibrant Abbotsford coordinator Alison Homer said the hike takes into account inflation, increased child care rates, and higher tuition fees and Medical Service Plan costs.
Homer said the calculation is released yearly to demonstrate how the real costs of living are changing in communities.
“This year, the trend continues that costs of living are rising faster than inflation, and that wages are not following suit,” she said.
“It is progressively harder each year for families to make ends meet, with families having to spend $156 more each month than they did two years ago.”
She said the living wage is based on the premise that people who work full-time should never have to live in poverty.
Homer said it’s important for communities to support a living wage because it results in citizens having to rely less on social programs and having more disposable income to invest locally.
Employers benefit by higher employee loyalty and productivity, and decreased turnover and training/hiring costs, she said.
Homer said 28 per cent of families with two children fall below the living wage threshold, and one out of three poor children live in families where at least one adult has a full-time job.
Businesses can become certified “living wage employers.” Currently, Vancity is the only such employer in the Fraser Valley, although Homer says there are many other businesses who also pay a living wage.
Catherine Ludgate, Vancity manager of community investment, said the company, which has 56 branches and 2,600 employees in B.C., began in 2010 ensuring that all its employees and people it contracts – for services such as security and janitorial – receive the living wage.
She said employee engagement and morale “went up considerably,” there has been less staff turnover, and employees have been happier and more productive.
“Paying a living wage is just the right thing to do,” she said.
For more information, visit vibrantabbotsford.ca/projects/living-wage/
Monthly living wage budget for a family of four in the Fraser Valley
Total monthly expenses of $4,871.31 are broken down as follows:
• $1,134.20 for childcare
• $1,066.65 for shelter
• $742.14 for food
• $706.46 for other household expenses (personal care, furniture, school supplies and minimal recreation)
• $445.85 for transportation
• $198.57 for two weeks’ pay (to cover emergency sickness)
• $194.81 for clothing and footwear
• $136 for private medical insurance premiums
• $138.50 for government medical services plan
• $108.13 for parent education (two local college courses per year)