Living wage in Metro Vancouver has risen to $25.68.
Photo by Jaana Björk
Living wage in Metro Vancouver rises to $25.68 amid soaring costs
Published 2:20 PST, Wed November 8, 2023
Last Updated: 2:21 PST, Wed November 8, 2023
As the cost of essentials continues to balloon, particularly for housing and food, Metro Vancouver's living wage has climbed to $25.68 per hour for 2023, marking an increase of 6.6 per cent from last year, the 2023 Living Wage Update report shows.
The living wage, calculated by the 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 a family of four based on the actual costs of living in a particular community.
The 2023 Living Wage report shows that the Metro Vancouver living wage family has to spend over $4,000 more than last year for the same basket of goods.
While parents with young children in licensed child care have benefitted from large fee reductions this year, the savings are entirely consumed by soaring prices in other areas. Housing costs alone demand an added $411 per month from their budget—a spike of 16.6 per cent. Food, the second most expensive item in the living wage family budget, is an extra $68 per month, soaring by 6.1 per cent.
"Although inflation has dropped from last year's historic highs, the cost of living across BC continues to increase rapidly," says Iglika Ivanova, CCPA-BC senior economist and the report's lead author.
Rent and food prices in particular have risen sharply in communities across the province, driving increases in the local living wages. In Greater Victoria, the living wage is now $25.40, a 4.6 per cent increase from 2022; in Kelowna it is $24.60, a 7.5 per cent increase; and in Prince George it is $22.09, a 4.2 per cent increase.
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.
"We're proud to be a Living Wage Employer. By having a living wage as the minimum compensation for our employees, we are providing our employees with the pay they require for their well-being and success and we enable them to not only enhance their own lives but also deepen the relationships within their community," says Lincoln Kyne, Senior Vice President, British Columbia & United States Pacific Northwest at Lafarge Canada, a certified Living Wage Employer.
"The Living Wage Commitment builds community resilience in these times of high inflation. It also recognizes the hard work of our employees and their contribution to the company and benefits us all."
Many BC workers earn less than the living wage and face impossible choices—buy groceries or heat the house, keep up with bills or pay the rent on time.
"In the last two years, the gap between the minimum wage and living wages in BC has grown significantly. In Metro Vancouver, this gap is now close to nine dollars per hour," says Anastasia French, provincial manager for Living Wage for Families BC.
"BC's low-wage workers need a raise but the labour market alone can't resolve all economic insecurities," notes Ivanova. "Governments can and should do more to address the cost of living crisis that people are facing across the province."
French stresses that the living wage only allows for a modest lifestyle without extras many of us take for granted.
"The living wage lets workers meet their basic needs and have the time and money for an active and fulfilling family and personal life," she adds.
Nineteen BC communities have calculated their 2023 living wages.