An annual recalculation of the so-called “living wage” for Metro Vancouver concludes two working parents must each now earn $19.62 an hour to adequately support a family of four.
The calculation, published by the Canadian Centre for Policy Alternatives, estimates the wage including benefits required for a family of two full-time earners and two young children to meet basic expenses, including rent, child care, food and transportation, once government taxes, credits, deductions and subsidies are taken into account.
“The living wage lifts families out of poverty, but it’s based on a bare-bones budget without the extras many of us take for granted,” said report co-author Iglika Ivanova.
Not covered are student loan or credit card debt repayments or any savings for retirement or children’s education.
The living wage this year is up 48 cents from $19.14 an hour in 2012 – a jump of 2.5 per cent or nearly double the rate of inflation.
That increase is attributed in part to a $28 per month jump in a family’s transportation costs, due to rising costs to own and operate a car and a 13 per cent jump this year in TransLink fares.
Rising child care costs, food prices and a four per cent jump in Medical Services Plan premiums were also to blame.
Metro’s living wage has climbed from $16.74 in 2008, when the calculation was first made.
The CCPA and other advocacy groups are part of a Metro Vancouver Living Wage for Families campaign that urges employers to pay wages that reflect the real cost of living in their communities.
They also want government to do more by expanding the stock of affordable housing and pursuing universal child care, national pharmacare or dental coverage programs for children and lower income families.
A similar calculation in the Fraser Valley pegged the living wage there at $16.37.
Monthly living wage budget for Metro Vancouver family of four
$19.62 per hour living wage works out to $35,708 for each parent working full-time.Their monthly spending breaks down as follows:
- Food: $775
- Clothing and footwear: $192
- Shelter: $1,440
- Transportation: $495
- Child care: $1,193
- MSP premiums: $133
- Non-MSP health care: $133
- Parents education: $92
- Contingency: $229 (cushion against unexpected events)
- Other household expenses: $729