Minimum wage has a long way to go if families in Kamloops are going to make it.
Minimum wage in B.C. sits at less than $11, but a recent report stated the wage needed to cover the costs of raising a family in Kamloops is $17.21 an hour.
This living wage rate reflects the hourly wage in 2016 that two working parents with two young children must earn to meet their basic expenses, including rent, child care, food and transportation, once government taxes, credits, deductions and subsidies have been taken into account.
This rate is a decrease of 74 cents from the 2012 figure, despite the increase in child care, shelter and food expenses.
According to the Canadian Centre for Policy Alternatives BC and the Living Wage for Families Campaign, the decrease is entirely due to the expansion of the Canada Child Benefit announced in this year’s federal budget. The Canada Child Benefit was introduced in the 2016 federal budget and is a targeted benefit that is aimed at lifting low-income families with children out of poverty.
“The Kamloops living wage rate demonstrates good public policy can have a positive impact on the lives of families,” says Louise Richards of the Kamloops and District Elizabeth Fry Society. “However, we need commitment from all levels of government in order to do more than balance out rising costs. A poverty reduction plan for B.C. would make a difference to families in need in this area.”
“It is important to remember the living wage rate reflects the role of public policy to ensure affordability and a decent quality of life for all families,” says Iglika Ivanova, CCPA economist and co-author of the report. “Investing in universal affordable child care would significantly reduce the costs of raising a family and lower the living wage. For example, the proposed $10/Day Child Care Plan would reduce the Metro Vancouver living wage by $3.90 per hour, bringing it to $16.70.”
One in five children in B.C. are poor and the story of child poverty is a story of low wages.
In 2011 (the last year data was compiled), one out of every three poor children lived in families where at least one adult had a full-time, full-year job and a majority lived in families with some paid work (part-year or part-time).
Local small business owner of Image Masters, Bill McQuarrie, understands that paying employees a living wage is not all economics.
“There is an interconnected social responsibility involving both my employees and the community I live in and perpetuating poverty through low wages is not one of those responsibilities.”
“However, I am a businessman and I need to earn a profit in order to stay in business. But by paying more, I can attract the best staff, which leads to higher productivity and quality, and improved loyalty and decreased sick time. The end result and without sounding like a boring class in economics and marketing, I sell more stuff.”