The Living Wage in Fraser Valley is Still Too High

Nuclear and non-nuclear families struggling to make ends meet
Stephanie Davies, Contributor

(Nicole Kwit)

A report published by The Abbotsford News reveals that the 2017 living wage in the Fraser Valley is $15.90—a 38-cent difference from last year’s wage of $16.28.

$15.90 is the hourly wage that a family of four—two working parents with two children—needs to earn in order to meet basic costs. These basic costs are determined after credit, government taxes, deductions, and subsidies have been added up. Rent, child care, food, and transportation are all included in the living wage. A 38-cent reduction doesn’t seem like it would make much of a difference, considering that the Fraser Valley is currently one of the hottest real estate markets in B.C and most families are living paycheque-to-paycheque.

One of the most popular conversation pieces for folks in the Fraser Valley is how expensive everything is, even for one person. For a young family, this is an entirely different kind of struggle.

Langley, for example, is Metro Vancouver’s fastest growing municipality. It has gone from a sleepy farm town to an area that young families are drawn to. Because of this, the market is booming and prices are generally on the rise, which would prove to be challenging for most families, especially if a parent wants to stay at home or work part-time. The lifestyle options there have expanded in many ways, but they’ve also had to shrink to cope with economic growth.

The living wage is designed to provide a basic level of economic security, but it doesn’t seem to have made much of an impact overall. The living wage doesn’t factor in families of, say, single parents, or parents who work part-time. Even though a two-parent family with two children is the most common family unit in B.C., how can the living wage provide a decent level of economic security when there are so many other families who don’t fit into this mold?

Most two-parent, two-children families find it hard to make ends meet, so it comes as no surprise that, according to the 2016 BC Child Poverty Report Card, “one in every two B.C. children of single parents were poor in 2014.” The numbers haven’t seen much improvement over the past few years.

One of the greatest obstacles for lone-parent families is finding affordable child care. Many single parents are forced to work part-time because of the lack of child care options, which leaves them to care for their children in poverty, since they’re lacking a full-time income. It’s hard enough trying to pay bills with a common family-unit, let alone one without the support of a second income.

The 2017 living wage decrease has been set in place due to the Canada Child Benefit, which was introduced last year. The CCB is a monthly payment made to families who meet a certain requirement determined by the household’s net income, which helps with the expense of raising children under eighteen. This is a positive change for families who make an average or below-average income, since the higher the income, the less a family receives.

With the CCB and the new Fraser Valley living wage, it will be interesting to see what the statistics tell us over the next few years.

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