Kelowna living wage rises more than 23 per cent to over $22 per hour

Living wage tops $22

The soaring cost of food and shelter has pushed up the ‘living wage’ in Kelowna to well over $22 per hour.

The latest report from the Canadian Centre for Policy Alternatives and Living Wage for Families BC says a Kelowna family with two young children needs to earn at least $22.88 per hour to be able to afford necessities, support healthy child development and escape severe financial stress. That’s a jump of $4.39 or 23.7 per cent from last year.

That compares to an 18.7 per cent increase in Victoria, where the living wage is now $24.29, and Metro Vancouver’s rise of 17.3 per cent to $24.08.

“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,” said Anastasia French, Living Wage for Families provincial manager.

The cost of food has now outstripped child care as the number two expense for families, after housing.

“Until this year the living wage across most of BC remained below its 2018 peak because policy changes introduced by the BC provincial government significantly improve affordability for families with young children and offset increases in the cost of food, housing and other essentials,” explains report lead author Iglika Ivanova, senior economist at CCPA-BC.

“However, the savings generated by these policy changes, including significant child care investments and the elimination of MSP premiums, have now been effectively wiped out by ballooning rent and food costs,” she adds.

The living wage varies quite a bit across the Southern Interior. Kamloops has one of the lowest rates at $19.14 per hour, whereas places like Revelstoke and Golden are higher than Kelowna.

The CCPA-BC says the report highlights the strikingly large gap between a living wage and the province’s current minimum wage, which is $15.65 per hour.

Ivanova points out that while many BC employers see the value of paying living wages, the labour market alone cannot solve all the problems of poverty and social exclusion.

“Good public policy can make life more affordable for families and when government transfers don’t keep up with the rising cost of living, the families hardest hit are headed by already marginalized earners, including single mothers, indigenous people and recent immigrants,” she says.

The 2022 living wage has increased across BC in all of the communities where it has been calculated in the past and has surpassed the previous peak set in 2018.

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