08 Nov Living Wage on the Sunshine Coast Rises to $25.61
As the cost of essentials continues to balloon, particularly for housing and food, the Sunshine Coast’s living wage has climbed to $25.61 per hour for 2023, marking an increase of $1.31 (5.4 per cent) from last year’s rate of $24.30 per hour, the 2023 Living Wage Update report shows.
The living wage, calculated by the Sunshine Coast Foundation, Canadian Centre for Policy Alternatives BC Office (CCPA-BC) 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.
Other communities across the province have seen significant living wage increases as well, including Nanaimo (up 12.9 per cent), Kamloops (up 9.2 per cent), Fraser Valley (up 8.8 per cent), Kelowna (up 7.5 per cent) and Powell River (up 7.4 per cent).
While parents with young children in licensed child care have benefitted from recent government investments to reduce child care costs – over $660 in monthly savings was calculated for families on the Sunshine Coast – these savings are almost entirely consumed by soaring prices in other areas.
In our community, shelter and telecommunications costs demand an added $567 per month from a family’s budget – a spike of 24%. Food, the second most expensive item in the living wage family budget, is an extra $76 per month, which is up by 6 per cent from last year.
“Although inflation has dropped from last year’s historic highs, the cost of living across BC continues to increase rapidly,” says Erin Storey, Executive Director at the Sunshine Coast Foundation. “Every day, we can plainly see how life on the Coast is increasingly expensive, and we know that more and more families are turning to local charities to meet their essential needs,” Storey adds. “In turn, these organizations struggle to sustain the increase in demand for their services.”
Positioned between Metro Vancouver ($25.68 per hour) and Victoria ($25.40 per hour), the Sunshine Coast’s living wage of $25.41 per hour is the fifth highest in the province. This is down from 2022, where it came in as the third highest, right behind Daajing Giids and Golden. Of the 19 communities that participated in the 2023 Living Wage Update, the highest living wage was reported in Clayoquot Sound ($26.51 per hour), followed by Daajing Giids ($26.25 per hour) and Golden ($25.78 per hour).
Many BC employers, including small businesses, non-profits, and cooperatives, 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, including 12 right here on the Sunshine Coast.
While over 2500 workers in BC received a pay increase this year because of their employer’s commitment to paying a living wage, many still earn much less and must work multiple jobs or cut back on essentials.
The living wage is distinct from the minimum wage, currently $16.75 per hour in BC, which is the legal minimum an employer must pay their workers set by the BC government. The living wage always surpasses the minimum wage, but the gap had narrowed from 2018-2021 due to policy changes that improved affordability across BC. There is now an almost $9 gap between the minimum wage and the living wage on the Sunshine Coast.
“In the last two years, the gap between the minimum wage and living wages in BC has grown significantly,” says Iglika Ivanova, Senior Economist at CCPA-BC.
“BC’s low-wage workers need a raise, but the labour market alone can’t resolve all economic insecurities,” adds Ivanova. “Governments can and should do more to address the cost-of-living crisis that people are facing across the province.”
Anastasia French, the Provincial Manager for Living Wage for Families BC, stresses that the living wage only allows for a modest lifestyle without extras many of us take for granted.
She notes, “The living wage lets workers meet their basic needs and have the time and money for an active and fulfilling family and personal life,” while adding, “the living wage is more than just a financial benchmark; it is a commitment to ensuring that paid work guarantees a decent standard of living and allows for participation in social, civic, and cultural activities.”
For a list of participating living wage communities and living wage employers in BC, visit: www.livingwageforfamilies.ca
Read the 2023 Living Wage Update report here: