If the average family of four had two parents earning $20.50 an hour full time, at the end of the year they’d have enough savings to buy one latte.
This living wage estimate is calculated by the Community Social Planning Council of Greater Victoria, and uses a model of two full-time working parents with two children, aged seven and four, to calculate the minimum income required to meet the most basic needs.
With two people making $20.50 an hour, such a family could pay for basic shelter, clothing, food, transportation and medical expenses, as well as two weeks of sick leave.
Without any other income or outside help, they would not be able to afford to save for their children’s post-secondary education, their own retirement, to pay off debt or care for an elderly relative.
The council’s annual report, released last week, put the region’s living wage at $0.49 more than in 2017. The highest costs attributed to shelter and childcare, which made up more than 50 per cent of expenses. After all other costs were calculated, an average family would have $6.18 in savings by the end of the year.
“We need to see changes in government. We need to look at measures to increase the supply in affordable housing options and improve the costs of childcare,” said council research manager Stefanie Hardman. “They are the two largest expenses, and any measures that could help alleviate those would help parents struggling with a living wage.”
Recent changes announced in the provincial budget, such as a slash in MSP rates and the introduction of a Child Care Fee Reduction program are examples of social policies that could make a difference. However, the report notes that child care costs presently reach $15,210 per year for two children in care – including the $900 in savings from the fee reduction program.
“I think seeing how inadequate our minimum wage is, it’s really stark,” Hardman said. “We need to take further action and stronger initiatives to make this happen.”
Some employers combat poverty by joining the Living Wage Employer program, which guarantees their employees and contract staff the living wage of their region. However, without further changes in social policies, Hardman said, the living wage is only going to increase next year.
For more information on the report, visit livingwageforfamilies.ca.