In our Wednesday editorial about Social Planning Cowichan’s 2017 Living Wage Comparison we focused mainly on what it takes to maintain a family of four (two parents and two children).
The reality is that there are many other kinds of households in the Cowichan Valley and we applaud SPC for including numbers specific to some of them as a new feature in this year’s report.
So how are singles, and single parents on minimum wage faring?
In a word, badly.
The living wage, the amount needed to pay for the basics like food, clothing and shelter, goes up when there are fewer people contributing to the household income.
As anyone who’s ever lived alone knows, rent for one is often the same as rent for two. And a mortgage is a mortgage.
An individual of 50 years or older needs to make $20.03 per hour to make ends meet in the Cowichan Valley, according to SPC’s calculations. But it gets even harder for single parents. A single parent with a child five years old and older needs to make $22.06 per hour minimum, while a single parent with a child under five has to make a whopping $24.35 per hour.
With an actual minimum wage of a paltry $10.85 per hour, it’s no wonder single parents and older folks are too often struggling.
And these are folks who are working, full-time. The minimum wage has just not kept up with the rise in prices for everything else.
No wonder the working poor are increasingly having to head to area food banks.
People with jobs that they work hard at, no matter what those jobs are, shouldn’t have to live in poverty.
We’re not arguing that we should be funding six month world-tour jaunts for everyone. We’re arguing that having a minimum wage hasn’t done its job of making sure working people are fairly compensated. It’s time to try something new.