How much does it cost to support a family in Metro Van? Report finds it takes two incomes of over $19/hr to support family of four

Erin Loxam, NEWS1130

Two adults. Two kids. Difficult decisions.

Each parent has to make $19.14 an hour just to make ends meet; that’s more than double the minimum wage, according to the Canadian Centre for Policy Alternatives study into living wages.

The study looks at the real cost of a family, including shelter, transportation, childcare, and food. It doesn’t include owning a home or saving for retirement.

Campaign Organizer Michael McCarthy Flynn says the findings are concerning. “We can no longer really say a job is a guaranteed way out of poverty. In fact, a lot of the jobs that have been created since the recession have been in the low-wage sector.”

McCarthy Flynn argues a lot of change has to be voluntary and come from employers. “There’s significant benefit in terms of increased productivity, reduced staff turnover, and in terms marketing themselves as a progressive and ethical employer.”

He adds it can be frustrating to work harder only to fall further behind with less time to spend with family, friends, and in the community.

To combat the unaffordability, McCarthy Flynn believes the province needs to increase subsidies to low-income families and the private sector needs to commit to paying its workers a living wage.

According to the Living Wage for Families Campaign, the jump in living wages is driven by big increases in shelter costs and child care fees. “Shelter costs rose by $76/month, driven by soaring rents in Vancouver (up by $68/month) and modest increases in the cost of utilities and telephone.”

“Child care fees took a big jump of $33/month, a three per cent increase,” it adds. “Finally, MSP premiums increased by six per cent a year over the last three years (and are slated to increase again in 2013).”