Household expenses for raising a family in B.C. have increased from 2018 to 2019 but the living wage for some families has gone down.
The Community Social Planning Council (CSPC) of Greater Victoria released its 2019 Living Wage report Wednesday.
The report said new government policy initiatives like the Affordable Child Care Benefit, the Child Care Fee Reduction Initiative and cuts to Medical Services Plan premiums outweighed the increased cost of living and reduced the wage needed to form a living wage.
“This demonstrates that good government policy can be an effective tool for reducing poverty,” said Diana Gibson, CSPC senior researcher and co-author of the report.
Gibson said it also shows the opportunities for making change in other key areas that are driving the cost of living, like housing.
The living wage is the hourly wage that two working parents with two young children, aged four and seven, must earn to meet their basic expenses — like rent, child care, food and transportation — once government taxes, credits, deductions and benefits have been taken into account.
The family living wage for the region is calculated annually by the CSPC of Greater Victoria.
A $19.39 hourly wage is needed to cover the costs of raising a family in Greater Victoria, down from $20.50 per hour in 2018.
“A $19.39 hourly wage may seem high to some, but it is based on a bare-bones budget for a family of four in our region,” Gibson said. “It doesn’t include any savings for vacations, childrens’ education, retirement, caring for elderly parents or home purchase.”
According to the CSPC, housing and child care are the two biggest costs in the living wage calculation.
Over the last year, the median rent for a three or more bedroom unit in Greater Victoria has gone up by $135 per month, a more than eight per cent increase.
Halena Seiferling, campaign organizer for the Living Wage for Families Campaign, said the cost of living is on a long-term upward trend.
“The cost of living in the Greater Victoria region is one of the highest in B.C.,” Seiferling said.