Living wage for Metro Vancouver families drops for first time in 8 years

The hourly wage that two working parents need to earn to support themselves and two young children has dropped for the first time in eight years due to changes in federal policy, say advocates.

Organization says the Canada Child Tax Benefit evens out rising costs

Although costs are rising in Metro Vancouver, Living Wage for Families says tax benefits have evened those expenses out. (Shutterstock/Casper1774 Studio)

The hourly wage two working parents in Metro Vancouver need to earn to support themselves and two young children has dropped for the first time in eight years due to changes in federal policy, say advocates.

For a family of four, covering basic costs like rent, childcare, and food now requires two parents working full time at $20.64 an hour, down from $20.68 the previous year.

"Families aren't going to be a huge amount further ahead, but they're not going to be falling behind," said Deanne Ogle, campaign organizer for A Living Wage for Families

Ogle says although costs have generally increased in Metro Vancouver — rent and childcare saw the largest increases — the recently revamped Canada Child Benefit has evened out those expenses.

"What it demonstrates is that public policy can have a positive impact on families," Ogle said. "We think that governments can do more."

A list of all the expenses considered to calculate the living wage to live in Metro Vancouver. (Living Wage for Families)

To determine the living wage, Ogle's organization partners with the Canadian Centre for Policy Alternatives and First Call: BC Child and Youth Advocacy Coalition to calculate basic costs like MSP premiums, transportation and clothing. The wage also puts tax benefits into consideration. 

What it doesn't include are costs like retirement savings, debt repayment or education savings for children.

Ogle says about 38 per cent of families in Metro Vancouver don't make enough to cover their basic needs. 

"For many people, when they look at the living wage, it sounds like an impossible dream," she said. "It sounds like a wage that they may never see, and that's a reality of low-wage poverty."

The organization says the living wage has also decreased in:

  • Greater Victoria ($20.02).
  • Kamloops ($17.21).
  • Parksville-Qualicum ($16.76).
  • Prince George ($16.52).
  • The Fraser Valley ($16.28)