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Housing affordability in Yukon 'a significant concern' says author of living wage report

The 2019 living wage, according to the latest report by the Yukon Anti-Poverty Coalition, is $19.07. That's up $.50 from last year. 

The Yukon Anti-Poverty Coalition has calculated the 2019 living wage in Whitehorse at $19.07 per hour

A family of four pays about $1,844.09 for rent per month, according to the latest report on the living wage in Whitehorse. (Vic Istchenko/CBC)

The author of the latest living wage report on Whitehorse says substantial action is required to improve affordability for low and modest-income households. 

"Housing affordability remains a significant concern," said Kendall Hammond, a public policy researcher and author of the report, Living Wage in Whitehorse, Yukon: 2019.

Hammond's report, produced by the Yukon Anti-Poverty Coalition, says the 2019 living wage is $19.07. That's up $.50 from last year. 

The living wage is the hourly rate of pay required to meet a household's basic needs, after accounting for government transfers and deductions from income. The report is based on a "reference family" consisting of two adults working 35 hours a week apiece, and two children, ages four and seven.

Yukon's minimum wage is $12.71, $6.36 less than the living wage. 

"Whitehorse has one of the highest living wage rates in the country, in part driven by high cost of rental housing," said Hammond. 

"Just over 30 per cent of pre-tax income goes toward shelters as the largest single expense incurred by low and moderate income households," he said. "Childcare is a substantial driver as well."

Hammond said the largest monthly cost for the reference family is $1,844.09 in rent, and the second largest is $1,219.92 for childcare.

More social housing needed

The report recommends ten measures to improve affordability and reduce poverty for families in the Yukon. 

Those include building more social housing, offering a low cost transit pass and introducing a basic annual income pilot that reflects the cost of living in the territory. 

The living wage is calculated with a standardized formula used across the country. 

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