Metro Vancouver's living wage rises again, but not by as much as you might guess

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      In news that will come as a surprise to nobody, Vancouver is becoming a more expensive place to live.

      “Over the last year, the median rent in Metro Vancouver has gone up by $100 per month, a whopping 6.7 per cent increase,” reads a media release issued by the B.C.-based Living Wage for Families campaign.

      The release accompanies the group’s annual update on B.C.’s living wage.

      It states that in 2018, residents of Metro Vancouver need to make $20.91 an hour to get by raising a family.

      The group defines a living wage as “the hourly wage that two working parents with two young children must earn to meet their basic expenses”.

      The release notes that if it weren’t for new measures introduced by the NDP since it took power last July, the economic forecast for Metro Vancouver’s middle class would have been worse.

      “Family costs would have been even higher if it wasn’t for two substantial policy interventions by the provincial government,” it explains. “A 50 percent reduction to MSP premiums and the Child Care Fee Reduction Initiative, implemented April 1 and will result in savings of $900 this year for parents with children between three and five years if their child care provider opts into the program.”

      Metro Vancouver’s living wage is calculated each year by the Canadian Centre for Policy Alternatives (CCPA). A full report on the 2018 living wage is available at CCPA’s website.

      “A $20.91 hourly living wage may seem high to some but it is based on a bare-bones budget for a family of four in our region,” said Iglika Ivanova, a CCPA senior economist quoted in the release. “There’s a big gap between the wages many of our neighbours earn and the real costs of raising a family. About 32 percent of Metro Vancouver two-parent families with two children had incomes less than the living wage according to the most-recent Statistics Canada data available.”

      Living Wage for Families campaign organizer Deanna Ogle is quoted there emphasizing the significant role that housing has come to play in a B.C. household’s overall financial security.

      “It is clear that without immediate action to tie maximum rent increases to the unit, not the tenant and steps taken to protect existing affordable housing stock that the increasing cost of housing will swamp any other affordability measures that are implemented,” Ogle said.

      In addition to Metro Vancouver, CCPA's report includes calculations for living ages in municipalities across B.C. For example, in 2018, the living wage in Powell River is $17.15, in Prince George and Quesnel it's $16.51, and in the Fraser Valley it's $17.40.

      B.C.'s minimum wage stands at $11.35. It's scheduled to increase to $12.65 an hour on June 1 and to $15.20 an hour by 2021.