Soaring food and housing costs are behind a 23.7% increase in the living wage in Kelowna, according to the Living Wage Update report.
Anastasia French, provincial director of Living Wage for Families and co-author of the study funded by the Canadian Center for Policy Alternatives, says Kelowna’s living wage is now calculated at $22.88 an hour.
This salary is based on a two-parent family with two children and each parent working full time, and what it costs for basic expenses such as food, clothing, rental housing, child care, transportation and small savings to cover illness or emergencies. .
“For Kelowna, that’s based on a 17% increase in the cost of groceries and rental rates that have gone up more than 20%,” French said.
“We expected to see a living wage increase due to inflation, but an increase ($4.39) for Kelowna is the highest percentage we’ve seen year over year.”
By comparison, Victoria saw an increase to $24.29, a 19% jump from a year ago, and Metro Vancouver at $24.08, a 17.3% increase.
Other living wage communities include Golden now at $25.56, Kamloops at $19.14, Prince George at $21.19, Grand Forks at $20.05 and Nanaimo at $20.49.
According to French, food was once the third-highest cost for families, but it leapfrogged to second place in child care affordability after the province made investments in 2018 that slashed costs. family childcare costs.
While solutions to rising food prices are complicated by global economic conditions and the impact of climate change on agriculture, French says the government can play a role in resolving the rental rate crisis.
“There are controls to determine how much landlords can increase rents for tenants from year to year, but eviction rents are a problem because if a tenant is evicted, the rent can be increased without limit for the tenant next,” French said, adding that it makes life more difficult for single mothers, Indigenous people and recent immigrants.
She says rent increases should be tied to the unit rather than the individual tenant, limiting the annual rent increase to the maximum 2% currently allowed, regardless of a change in tenants.
In Kelowna, she says, two- and three-bedroom rents have risen in cost at a faster rate than bachelor or one-bedroom units, another indication of how difficult it is for low-income families to find housing. stable and affordable.
She said the affordable housing projects launched by BC Housing, coupled with benefits such as childcare subsidies and the proposed national dental coverage plan, can make life more affordable for those earning below a living wage.
Just like other increases in the minimum wage, which is now $15.65 an hour.
The French advocate that collecting more taxes from companies making record profits, such as grocery chains, can offset the additional costs for other government programs.
New B.C. Premier David Eby has also indicated that changes are underway to not allow condominiums to legally prevent single parents or couples with children from moving into a unit, which helps the lack of housing options for families.
French says the Living Wage for Families BC website offers certification and pathways on how employers can be certified as a living wage employer.
“It’s not about doing everything at once, but about doing things gradually so that you can retain employees who otherwise are left forever seeking better paying jobs. Every little bit counts,” she said.
There are nearly 400 certified living wage employers in the province.
Living Wage employers currently include small businesses, nonprofits, unions and co-ops, and 14 municipal governments, including the cities of Burnaby, Langley, New Westminster, North Vancouver, Pitt Meadows, Port Coquitlam, Quesnel, Vancouver and Victoria.
These employers have pledged to pay all of their direct and contract employees a living wage and require their key service providers to also pay a living wage, including for janitorial, security and catering contracts.
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EconomyKelownaMinimum WageWage Growth