It won’t be a surprise to many that the cost of living in the Comox Valley has gone up in the last year.
According to a report published by the Living Wage for Families Campaign, the Canadian Centre for Policy Alternatives’ BC office, and the First Call: BC Child and Youth Advocacy Coalition, the Comox Valley’s living wage is now considered to be $16.59 per hour.
That’s a 63-cent per hour increase from the 2017 report, which calculated the Valley’s living wage to be $15.96 per hour.
The living wage is the calculated income needed for two full-time working parents to raise two young children and meet basic expenses. The figure is calculated annually for various B.C. communities and takes into account rent, child care, food, housing, and transportation costs.
Roger Albert, a member of the Comox Valley Housing Task Force and the Comox Valley Social Planning Society (CVSPS), says the Valley’s inflation rate last year was nearly double the provincial average. (3.9 per cent annually in the Valley versus 2.2 per cent in B.C.).
“We know transportation has gone up, we know that food costs have gone up,” he said. “We know that in the last year, daycare went up, but daycare is going to go down because of the [provincial government’s] initiative to reduce the costs to parents by about $100 per month.”
Albert added that he hopes the new figures will encourage more Valley businesses to become “living wage employers.”
“The living wage is a lot higher than the minimum wage here of $11.50 [per hour],” he said. “No wonder there are lots of help-wanted signs around in the food and other service industries.
“People making minimum wage can’t afford to live here.”
CVSPS chairwoman Bunny Shannon said she hopes community members will look at the report and learn from it. She feels the numbers justify the need for a universal guaranteed minimum income in B.C. or Canada.
“A lot of people in this community are living below the poverty line and a lot of them can’t afford homes,” she said. “And we’re not building homes that are affordable.”
According to the report, the highest living wage in B.C. continues to be in Metro Vancouver, at $20.91 per hour. This is a 30-cent per hour increase from 2017.
Victoria has the second highest living wage in B.C. at $20.50 per hour, while Revelstoke has the third highest at $19.37 per hour.