The living wage of a typical family of four, with two parents and two children, in the Cowichan Valley is $19.05 per hour, according to Social Planning Cowichan.
And that’s with both parents working for that wage at 35 hours a week each.
The living wage is the hourly pay an individual would need to earn to cover basic expenses, such as food, clothing, rent/mortgage, transportation and childcare.
When SPC began its annual living wage calculations for the Valley in 2014, it was determined to be $17.04.
The living wage in the Valley has increased 24 cents from last year, and the province’s minimum wage, which is currently set at $10.85 an hour, is well below the Valley’s current living wage.
As well, the SPC’s Michelle Staples said the Valley’s living wage calculation doesn’t include debt repayments, future savings, post-secondary education costs or anything beyond minimum recreation and entertainment.
In previous years, the living wage has been calculated for a family of four.
However, many Valley residents have indicated that this is not reflective of their situations so, in addition to the standard model, SPC developed an additional three categories this year.
A single parent with a child under five years old would need to earn $23.35 an hour to make ends meet; a single parent with a child five and older would need $22.06 an hour; and a person aged 50+ living on their own needs to make $20.03 an hour to make ends meet.
“For many in the Valley, wages are just not keeping up with the demands,” Staples said.
“The NDP government is calling for minimum wage to be set at $15 an hour, and that’s at least closer to the living wage, but there are some other approaches that can be considered as well.”
Staples said having more housing available in the Valley, particularly affordable housing, would go a long way to offset lower wages.
She said guaranteed minimum income programs should also be considered in B.C.
Guaranteed minimum income is a system of social welfare provisions that guarantees all citizens or families have an income sufficient to live on.
“Ontario and Quebec are exploring this and considering implementing these policies in those provinces,” Staples said.
“We’re hoping something similar could be considered here.”