As the overall cost of living continues to rise and the housing crisis and labour shortage worsen, Cowichan’s regional living wage has climbed to $25.20 per hour for 2023. This marks an increase of 7.1 per cent from last year, when the living wage was set at $23.53 per hour. The current minimum wage in BC is $16.75 per hour. Social Planning Cowichan’s 2023 Living Wage Report shows that the Cowichan living wage family has to spend over $3780 more than last year for the same basket of goods.
The living wage, calculated by Social Planning Cowichan, Canadian Centre for Policy Alternatives BC Office and Living Wage for Families BC, is the hourly rate that each of two parents working full-time must earn to support the bare needs of a family of four based on the actual costs of living in the Cowichan region. Expenses considered in the calculation include food, clothing, shelter, internet, transportation, childcare, health care, parents’ education and a modest contingency fund. Simply put, the living wage is a conservative estimate representing a “bare minimum” of what a family needs to earn in order to cover the basic needs of living.
Many BC Employers have stepped up to pay both direct and contract employees wages sufficient to support families, with nearly 400 certified Living Wage Employers across the province and 8 registered employers in the Cowichan Region. Providing a Living Wage is one action employers can take to recruit and retain employees, as well as increase worker morale and productivity and reduce absenteeism. When workers are able to meet their core living expenses it also supports mental, physical, and emotional well-being.
Ryan Watson, administrative assistant with Social Planning Cowichan who helped lead the living wage calculations in the Cowichan Valley region, notes that workers making a higher wage tend to spend it in their communities, helping the local economy. Businesses that may not be able to increase wages can also support employees financially by offering other things like benefits, flexible schedules and more. Advocates are calling for governments and employers to make changes to better support residents in BC. For more information on how your business can apply for living wage certification click the link below!