Ensuring strong families and health communities
A healthy community possesses a diverse and robust economy, and provides access to adequate income for its citizens. Ensuring living wages to is one way to ensure vibrant citizens, strong families and healthy communities.
What is a living wage
A living wage is based on the principal that full-time work should provide families with a basic level of economic security and health. Currently, low wages keep families in poverty. A living wage however, is one that pays for necessities, supports healthy child development, allivates financial stress and allows families meaningful participation in their communities. More than half of BC’s poor children live in families where at least one person has a full time job. The Canadian Centre for Policy Alternatives BC Office 2011 report Working for a Living Wage details more about a Living Wage.
How is a living wage calculated?
The hourly living wage rate is calculated based on the living expenses of a family of four with two children aged 4 and 7, and both parents working full-time (35 hours/week each). It incorporates government transfers (e.g. the Canadian Child Tax Benefit) and deductions (e.g. taxes, E.I. and CPP premiums.)
The living wage is different from the minimum wage, which is the legislated minimum set by the provincial government. The living wage calls on employers to meet a higher standard and reflects what people need to support their families based on the actual costs of living in a specific community.
The expenses included in the living wage calculation include food, clothing and footwear, shelter and transportation. Additional expenses include child care, provincial Medical Services Plan (MSP) premiums, non MSP-covered health expenses, limited education amounts for parents, and a contingency amount to provide a two-week cushion in the event of job loss, illness, etc. For more information on how the living wage is calculated and calculators that provide an approximation of the living wage based on employer benefits to please go to www.livingwageforfamilies.ca
What about a living wage in my community?
In April 2010 the city of New Westminster became the first municipality in Canada to pass a Living Wage Policy. Several BC Interior communities are taking steps toward legislated Living Wage Policies. To date at least 140 US cities have successful living wage policies.