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Living wage calculations released for Powell River

Report suggests families may benefit from new BC government initiatives
Powell River Employment Program executive director Stuart Clark
Powell River Employment Program executive director Stuart Clark. Peak archive photo

Although the cost of living in Powell River continues to rise steeply for rent and other basic necessities, those with children may see a financial break in 2019, according to the Living Wage for Families Campaign and PREP Community Programs.

Powell River’s 2019 living wage calculations, released on Tuesday, September 10, suggest that new provincial government child-care policies have led to a drop in the living wage for the region from $17.16 per hour in 2018 to $16.31 per hour in 2019. The overall reduction was attributed to the BC government’s income-tested Affordable Child Care Benefit and the universal Child Care Fee Reduction Initiative that could potentially save $8,241 on child care, a 47 per cent reduction compared to 2018.

Without taking into account BC’s new child care investments, Powell River’s living wage increased to $19.34, up 13 per cent from 2018. This increase would have been proportionally much higher than Metro Vancouver, where the living wage this year would have been 7.4 per cent higher if not for the province’s child care investments.

The living wage, as defined by the groups, is the hourly amount each of two working parents with two young children must earn to meet their basic expenses (including rent, child care, food and transportation) once government taxes, credits, deductions and subsidies are taken into account. Although the report offers some possible good news, the issue remains access to services. Low vacancy rates, especially for family housing, and long wait lists for licensed child-care spaces prevent many BC families from fully benefiting from the province’s investments, the report stated. 

“We’re pleased to see a positive impact for families in the Powell River area, thanks to the BC government’s investments in child care,” said PREP Community Programs executive director Stuart Clark. “At the same time, we continue to see living expenses increase across the board, particularly in housing, and we call on the province to continue their focus on making life more affordable for families and individuals in BC.”

The Living Wage for Families Campaign previously released living wages for 12 more communities across BC on May 1, 2019. These range from $14.03 in the North Central Region to $19.50 in Metro Vancouver.

The living wage for Metro Vancouver and the living wage methodology for BC are calculated annually in Working for a Living Wage: Making Paid Work Meet Basic Family Needs in Metro Vancouver, a report published by the Canadian Centre for Policy Alternatives BC office, First Call: BC Child and Youth Advocacy Coalition and the Living Wage for Families Campaign.