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Living Wage in the

Cowichan Region

What does it cost to live in our region?

Living Wage 2023 (1).png

The living wage is defined as the hourly pay an individual must receive in order to earn enough to completely cover basic living expenses such as food, clothing, rental housing, transportation, childcare, and a small amount of savings for the event of illness or an emergency. The living wage figure varies based on the specific markets of a region, but it consistently encourages employers to pay significantly above the minimum wage to ensure the financial security of their employees and the wellbeing of their business(es).

The living wage calculation is a conservative, reasonable amount—predicated upon rentals, used vehicles, and other affordable options—intended to compensate for Canada’s stagnant wages, which have failed to rise to scale with the price of consumer products and the cost of living, which is once again evident with the calculation for 2023. Additionally, the living wage practice has been shown to be an effective business model, and as such, has already engendered significant support from communities and business across British Columbia. 

Traditionally, the living wage in British Columbia is calculated for a family consisting of two adults, both aged 31-50, and two children, one aged seven, the other aged four—the most common family unit in BC. The parents each work 35 hours per week and both earn an equal hourly wage. 
The figure is calculated to determine the wage required to be earned by both parents in the model family in order to cover the costs of shelter, transportation, food, clothing, and all other basic needs.

2023 saw parents with young children in licensed child care have benefitting from large fee reductions, the savings are entirely consumed by soaring prices in other areas. Housing costs alone demand an added $312.73 per month from the sample family's budget—a spike of 17.6. Food, the second most expensive item in the living wage family budget, is an extra $74.36 per month, soaring by 6.1 per cent.

The gap between Living Wage and the provincial minimum wage ($16.75 per hour) continues to widen, and life is continuing on a trend toward becoming increasingly unaffordable for many working people in our region and others across the Province. This highlights the need for local employers to carefully consider whether the people who keep our local business economy running are compensated appropriately.

*Please note, previous version of the infographic seen left included an error in childcare costs. This has now been corrected, and had no effect on the Living Wage amount as calculated by SPC and verified by the BC Living Wage for Families.

We encourage all Cowichan businesses and organizations to adopt a living wage policy. Local businesses are now able to become certified Living Wage employers directly as part of the provincial campaign. Visit the Living Wage for Families BC website for more information on how to become certified! 

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