Social Planning Cowichan recently released the results of their living wage calculation for 2022. Cowichan’s living wage has increased 21% from last year’s rate of $19.13 per hour to $23.53 per hour. The living wage increased in all areas of BC where it has been calculated in the past, further widening the gap between living wage and BC’s minimum wage (currently $15.65 per hour).
A living wage is based on a two-parent, two-child household, and is the minimum hourly rate that both parents need to earn to cover basic living expenses. These include shelter, food, child care, medical expenses and other necessities. For more information on living wage, visit our earlier blog post.
In their recent media release, Social Planning Cowichan points to food and shelter as the two essentials that are driving increases in the living wage across the province.
“It takes nothing more than a trip to the grocery store or a glance at local rental listings to see that costs have risen at an accelerated rate over a relatively short period of time,” says Ryan Watson, program assistant with Social Planning Cowichan. “Life is rapidly becoming unaffordable for many working people in our region and others across the Province. With Cowichan sitting at the sixth highest rate of Living Wage communities in BC, we are going to have to take a look at how we compensate the people who keep our local business economy running.”
In British Columbia, businesses can become certified as Living Wage employers. The Living Wage for Families Campaign is the official provincial certifier for employers across the province, with over 400 certified Living Wage Employers to date. Living wage employers include small businesses, non-profit organizations, unions and cooperatives. These employers have committed to pay all their direct staff and contract employees a living wage and to require their major service providers to also pay a living wage, including for janitorial, security and food service contracts. Paying a living wage has been shown to lower turnover and increase productivity.
We encourage all Cowichan businesses and organizations to become certified Living Wage Employers. To learn more or register your business, visit Living Wage for Families BC.
Paying at least a living wage is one thing every employer can do to help, but it’s not solely up to the labour market to solve poverty.
“Good public policy can make life more affordable for families,” says report lead author Iglika Ivanova, senior economist at CCPA-BC, “and when government transfers don’t keep up with the rising cost of living, the families hardest hit are headed by already marginalized earners, including single mothers, Indigenous people and recent immigrants.”