The living wage has gone up across the province, and West Kootenay and Boundary communities are no exception. They have all seen a significant increase over the 2021 rate, this year’s Living Wage Update report shows.
The increase is driven by two essentials that every family needs: food and shelter.
· In Trail, the new living wage calculation is $21.13 an hour for 2022, up 16% over last year.
· In Castlegar, the living wage is $20.54 (this is Castlegar’s first year calculating a living wage)
· In Nelson, the living wage is now $20.83, up 6% over last year.
· In Grand Forks, the 2022 living wage calculation is $20.05, a 17% increase
The living wage is the hourly wage that two parents working full-time need to earn to support a family of four. Other communities across the province that have seen staggering living wage increases include Kelowna at $22.88, 23.7% higher than last year; Victoria at $24.29, 18.7% higher than last year; and Metro Vancouver at $24.08, 17.3% higher than last year.
“With general inflation shooting up to a 40-year high this year, and with the cost of food rising even faster and rent increasing everywhere, especially for families that need to move and are no longer protected by rent control, it’s not surprising to see such big increases this year,” says Anastasia French, Living Wage for Families provincial manager.
“Locally, we’ve all seen the cost increases and are finding our own ways to deal with them, regardless of our income,” says Heather Glenn-Dergousoff, poverty reduction program specialist at the Skills Centre in Trail, one of the region’s living wage employers. “For people in working poverty, the concept of a living wage is a huge step up financially that has ripple effects on their stress levels, their health and wellness, their job satisfaction, and their family life.”
“If you’re working a 40 hour week for minimum wage, you’re earning a little over $32,000 a year. A living wage for a 40 hour week is about $42,000 a year. That difference will be life-changing for a family,” Glenn-Dergousoff adds.
The Skills Centre is a non-profit strengthening rural and industrial communities and workplaces in BC through workforce skills development, training services, social development and poverty reduction programming. It offers skills training and wellness programs for youth, mature workers and equity deserving groups to build a caring community of skilled, productive and engaged people.