The living wage in Golden is $22.07/hour, one of the highest in the province, according to the Golden Community Coop (GCC).
Living wage is calculated based on a two-parent family unit, which is the most common family unit in B.C., with each parent working full-time, which is defined as 35 hours a week.
Living wage will vary from region to region, and is impacted by basic expenses such as cost of food, clothing, rental housing, child care and transportation.
The GCC researched each expense, and found that for a two-parent family unit, shelter cost on average $1,800 a month, plus utilities, food expenses averaged about $1,148 month, and clothing and footwear at $2,612 a year.
Childcare costs were set at $16,324 a year in Golden, and transportation $5,000.
Jill Dewtie, executive director of the GCC, says it’s important to remember that cost of living is also only just above the poverty line.
She says it doesn’t address recreation or other additional expenses.
One of the limitations of the practice is that it does not account for single people or other family units, she added.
Caroline Tremblay, who helped calculate the rate, says the GCC is proud of their work and are fairly sure that it’s accurate to Golden, as they price matched things like groceries by actually going to local stores to see real prices.
“Hear in Golden, we followed the process outlined by Living Wage B.C., but with local numbers on certain things,” said Tremblay.
“This is usually a yearly process, but they skipped last year because of COVID, but we are partnered with them.”
According to data from Living Wages for Families B.C., Golden’s living wage would be the highest in the province out of the communities included in the cost of living calculations.
They list the Metro-Vancouver living wage at 20.52/hour, whereas comparable communities in the Kootenays, such as Revelstoke, are listed at $19.51/hr.
The organization says the living wage in all communities for which it is calculated is higher than B.C.’s minimum wage.
“The reality is that a number of families across B.C. earn less than a living wage and struggle to make ends meet with the rising cost of living, especially the cost of housing,” said Anastasia French, Living Wage for Families BC Organizer.
The GCC worked with Work BC and Living Wage for Families BC, following Living Wage Canada’s calculation guidelines while updating the local costs for food, clothing and footwear.
Living wage is different from minimum wage, which is set by the government, as a living wage reflects what earners in a family need to bring home to comfortably live in their community.
“We’re hoping that local employers will understand the cost of living and will start to move in the direction of paying the living wage,” said Dewtie.
“We fully understand the labour shortages here in our community and our region, and when we’re having those conversations about workforce attraction and retention, we need to talk about wages.”
Dewtie says that helping people reach a living wage isn’t always just about extra pay on their paycheque.
Seh said sometimes it’s about providing benefits, such as flexibility with sick days and childcare, or medical benefits to help reduce other costs of living.
She also says that this isn’t on the employers, noting the primary purpose of the exercise is it to be used as an educational tool to start a dialogue in the community.
“Living wage is meant to be a poverty reduction tool,” said Dewtie.
“What does it take to thrive in Golden? How can we build a community where everyone has their opportunity?”
According to Living Wage Canada, more than 374,000 families and 477,000 individual full-time wage earners living in poverty in Canada.
Many more work part-time or shift work and are also unable to make ends meet.
The GCC is continuing to work on their Community Economic Development strategy, with the next phase seeking public feedback on the draft of the strategy.
The CED Strategy will co-create a plan with residents for community-led development contributing to a vibrant and healthy social, economic, and environmental landscape where all residents have access to a good quality of life and a sustainable future.