Living in poverty is much more than simply not having enough money to make ends meet. It affects where a person lives, what they eat, what they do and how they cope. It causes stress that impacts a person's emotional, physical, and spiritual well-being. Many cities and regions are developing Poverty Reduction Plans to help them understand the impacts of poverty at the local level and to identify actions that can be taken to reduce poverty. Some have taken it one step further to begin to explore Poverty Elimination rather than Poverty Reduction.
Calculating the living wage is part of understanding poverty in the context of community members' lived experiences. It isn't always as simple as "Get a job, support your family." Often, despite parents having full time jobs, low-income families must make significant sacrifices in other areas of their lives in order to provide regular food or shelter. How much of a family's income is allocated to the monthly cost of food? Shelter? Child Care? How much should be allocated? The living wage is designed to help understand and ultimately solve these problems.
Social Planning Cowichan has calculated the Living Wage in the Cowichan region since 2014 (with the exception of 2020). Click here to learn more about the Living Wage calculations in the Cowichan Region
To explore what poverty looks like for local communities in the Cowichan Region, Social Planning Cowichan has engaged in two poverty reduction projects: The CommUNITY Together to End Poverty - Hw-nuts'ulwum (as one) project in Ladysmith/Stz'uminus and The Movin' On Up Cowichan Lake Poverty Reduction project.
The CommUNITY Together to End Poverty - Hw-nuts'-ulwum project aims to create a solutions-focused approach to reducing poverty in the Ladysmith and Stz'uminus communities by engaging community members on their lived experiences. Community engagement took place in late 2020 and continued through to late spring in 2021 with the finalized plan, complete with actions and recommendations, completed and adopted by the Town of Ladysmith Council in September 2021.
The Movin' On Up Cowichan Lake Poverty Reduction project is a collaboration between the Town of Lake Cowichan, and a diverse working group from across the area that is engaging the public on the impacts of poverty and identifying local actions that can be taken to meet the needs of the Cowichan Lake area residents. Community engagement took place in late 2020 and early 2021 and the finalized Strategy Report was completed and adopted by the Town of Lake Cowichan Council in August 2021.
Part of building resilience in community is to develop relationships at the neighbourhood level.