Child care, food costs drive up living wage

The Oceanside Star – Parksville

The living wage in District 69 has gone up 36 cents per hour to $17.30, according to a news release Monday from the District 69 Living Wage for Families Coalition.

The increase from $16.94 last year is 2.1%, almost double B.C.’s rate of inflation of 1.1%.

A living wage is defined as the hourly wage that two working parents with young children must earn to cover the real costs of raising a family.

“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,” says Coalition Chair Bill Preston. “It doesn’t cover debt repayments for credit card bills or student loans, and it doesn’t allow the family to save for retirement or for their children’s education.”

Child care and food costs were two of big drivers of the increase. Child care costs rose by $35 per month and increasing food prices added another $16.13 per month…

Thirty-five organizations in BC employing over 6,000 workers have been certified as Living Wage Employers, including School District No. 69 (Qualicum). “But employers alone cannot eliminate poverty and social exclusion,” says Preston. “Governments must be a partner in the solution.”

More affordable housing, a universal, publicly funded child-care system or a national pharmacare or dental coverage program for modest-income families, would decrease the living wage. For example, the $10 per day child care community plan proposed by the Child Care Advocates of BC and the Early Childhood Educators of BC would reduce the District 69 living wage by about $3 per hour.

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