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Metro Vancouver survival wage jumps again

By Stefania Seccia

It got even more expensive to live in Metro Vancouver. 

It got even more expensive to live in Metro Vancouver. (FILE PHOTO, 24 HOURS)

The wage needed to cover the cost of raising a family in Metro Vancouver is $20.68 for 2015 – a 2.9% increase from last year that has outpaced Vancouver’s 1.1% inflation rate.

And it adds up to something most families already know — living costs are increasing at a rate much faster than wages, according to the Metro Vancouver Living Wage for Families Campaign’s report released today.

The Working for Living Wage 2015 calculates the rate for families with two working parents, one child in full-time childcare and a second child in morning and after-school care to meet their basic expenses, according to Deanna Ogle, campaign organizer.

Last year’s living wage was targeted at $20.10, which is 58 cents less than this year’s minimum income to survive in the region.

“It doesn’t seem like a huge amount, but it is a larger change than we’ve ever had in previous years,” she said. “The biggest driver of that change was child care, which increased by $83 a month.”

That’s compared to a living wage of $17.27 for the Fraser Valley, $20.05 in Victoria, with Kitimat coming closest to the region’s number at $20.68 an hour.

In the Fraser Valley, the highest cost is child care, whereas in Metro Vancouver it’s rent, according to Ogle.

“We understand not all businesses are able to pay workers a living wage, but we’re saying to those employers ... to advocate for policies that would support your staff,” she said.

The “bare bones budget” estimates the $37,638 annual income for each parent could afford (per month): $783 for food; $191 for clothing and footwear; $1,573 for shelter; and $1,324 for child care, among other expenses.

“Having a low child-care fee would lower the living wage of Metro Vancouver very significantly,” said Iglika Ivanova, report co-author and Canadian Centre for Policy Alternatives economist. “If we had $10 a day for a child-care plan, the living wage would go down to $16.57 in Metro Vancouver.”

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