As the cost of essentials continues to balloon, particularly for housing and food, the Columbia Valley’s living wage has climbed to $22.63 per hour for 2023, marking an increase of 3.5 per cent from last year, the 2023 Living Wage Update report shows.

The living wage, calculated by Columbia Valley Economic Development, 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.

While parents with young children in licensed childcare 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 $82 per month from their budget—a spike of 3.94%. Food, the second most expensive item in the living wage family budget, is an extra $73 per month, soaring by 6.1 per cent.

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, and two in the Columbia Valley.

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 2023, this gap is now close to $5.88 dollars per hour,” says Theresa Wood, Columbia Valley Economic Development.

“BC’s low-wage workers need a raise but the labour market alone can’t resolve all economic insecurities,” notes Wood. “Governments can and should do more to address the cost-of-living crisis that people are facing across the province.”

Wood 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,”

CLICK HERE to learn how the living wage is calculated