The living wage in the Cowichan Valley in 2022 has risen 21 per cent to $22.53. (Metro Creative photo)

The living wage in the Cowichan Valley in 2022 has risen 21 per cent to $22.53. (Metro Creative photo)

Living Wage in Cowichan increases by 21% in 2022

Other B.C. communities also see significant increases

The living wage has gone up to $23.53 an hour in the Cowichan region for 2022, a 21 per cent increase over the 2021 rate of $19.03, this year’s Living Wage Update report shows.

The living wage is the hourly wage that two parents working full-time need to earn to support a family of four.

The living wage is considered enough for families of that size to cover necessities, support the healthy development of their children, escape severe financial stress and participate in the social, civic and cultural lives of their communities.

RELATED STORY: THE LIVING WAGE FOR THE COWICHAN VALLEY IN 2021 IS $19.13 AN HOUR

“It takes nothing more than a trip to the grocery store or a glance at local rental listings to see that costs have risen at an accelerated rate over a relatively short period of time,” said Ryan Watson, program assistant with Social Planning Cowichan.

“Life is rapidly becoming unaffordable for many working people in our region and others across the province. With Cowichan sitting at the sixth highest rate of Living Wage communities in B.C., we are going to have to take a look at how we compensate the people who keep our local business economy running.”

Other communities across the province that have seen significant living wage increases include Kelowna at 4.39 (23.7 per cent) higher than last year’s rate of $18.49, Victoria at $3.83 (18.7 per cent) higher than last year’s $20.46 and Metro Vancouver $3.56 (17.3 per cent) higher than last year’s $20.52.

Anastasia French, Living Wage for Families provincial manager, said the major increase in the living wage since last year is driven by two essentials that every family needs; food and shelter.

RELATED STORY: LIVING WAGE IN THE VALLEY ON THE RISE

In Cowichan, food now costs a family of four $1,205.83 per month, an increase of $242.11 per month, or 25 per cent since last year, according to the report.

“With general inflation shooting up to a 40-year high this year, and with the cost of food rising even faster and rent increasing everywhere, especially for families that need to move and are no longer protected by rent control, it’s not surprising to see such big increases this year,” French said.

Iglika Ivanova, lead author of the Living Wage report and a senior economist at CCPA-BC, said that until this year, the living wage across most of B.C. remained below its 2018 peak because policy changes introduced by the province significantly improved affordability for families with young children, and offset increases in the cost of food, housing and other essentials.

“However, the savings generated by these policy changes, including significant child-care investments and the elimination of MSP premiums, have now been effectively wiped out by ballooning rent and food costs,” she said.

RELATED STORY: BUCKERFIELDS COMMITS TO “LIVING WAGE” FOR EMPLOYEES

Ivanova said a strikingly large gap exists between the 2022 living wages for communities across B.C. and the province’s minimum wage, which is currently $15.65 per hour.

“While many B.C. employers see the value of paying living wages, with nearly 400 certified Living Wage employers across the province, the labour market alone can’t solve all problems of poverty and social exclusion,” she said.

“Good public policy can make life more affordable for families, and when government transfers don’t keep up with the rising cost of living, the families hardest hit are headed by already marginalized earners, including single mothers, Indigenous people and recent immigrants.”

Living wage employers include small businesses, non-profit organizations, unions and cooperatives. These employers have committed to pay all their direct staff and contract employees a living wage and to require their major service providers to also pay a living wage, including for janitorial, security and food service contracts.

Watson said Social Planning Cowichan encourages all Cowichan businesses and organizations to become certified Living Wage employers.

To learn more or register your business, visit Living Wage for Families BC.

For more information visit www.socialplanningcowichan.org, or contact infospcowichan@gmail.com.



robert.barron@cowichanvalleycitizen.com

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