Living Wage in the
What does it cost to live in our region?
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. 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. In this report, living wage calculations have also been included for a single parent with a child under five-years-old, a single parent with a child five-years or older, and a single individual aged 50-years or older, in order to more accurately reflect the demographic makeup of the Cowichan Valley.
The living wage is a figure calculated to determine the wage required to be earned by two parents in a model family of four in order to cover the costs of shelter, transportation, food, clothing, and all other basic needs.
In 2020, The Campaign for Living Wage made the decision to freeze the previous years' living wage figures as calculated by communities throughout the province due to COVID-19; specifically due to the fact that with the uncertainty of the situation. While many lost work, permanently or temporarily due to the pandemic, most families affected were able to access a variety of financial supports from the government and other institutions. This was cited by the organizers of the campaign, noting the great difficulties facing families as well as employers through the pandemic having made it simply too difficult to use the previous calculation method to arrive at an accurate living wage figure for the year.
We look forward to participating in the next calculation, which is set to take place in November 2021, with great interest in seeing how exactly the pandemic will have affected the cost of living in our region, and how we can advocate for a living wage to be paid by more companies and organizations within our region.