Although it may come as no surprise to Revelstoke residents, a new report by Living Wage for Families BC outlines how rising living costs are making it harder for families in the community to make ends meet.
The local living wage, calculated by Living Wage for Families BC, in Revelstoke is $23.60/hr, the fifth highest in the province, only behind Golden, Vancouver, Victoria, and Daajing Giids.
“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.
Revelstoke’s living wage has gone up to $23.60 hr, driven by a 40-year inflation high, including increases in housing and food costs.
The 2022 BC living wage update confirms what we all know: that families are struggling to get by.
— Living Wage for Families BC (@LWforfamilies) November 18, 2022
The living wage calculation represents the bare minimum each adult in a family of four with two parents would need to make to afford the essentials, such as shelter, food, and child care. The calculation doesn’t account for recreational spending or saving any significant amount of money for personal use.
Calculations were based on a 35-hour work week, meaning that the annual salary you’d need to make to earn a living wage in Revelstoke is $43,000 per year.
The numbers get more startling when you make comparisons to previous years. In 2021, the living wage in Revelstoke was $19.51, a 3.23 per cent increase from the reported living wage from 2019 of $18.90. At $23.60, the living wage in Revelstoke is nearly eight dollars higher than the province’s minimum wage of $15.65/hr.
In a survey conducted in late 2019, 29 per cent of workers in the province aged 25 to 65 reported having worked multiple jobs at the same time to make ends meet.
According to French, the cost of housing is the main factor that makes the living wage in resort towns, like Revelstoke, so high. In the calculation for Revelstoke, French and her team budgeted $2,250/month for rent.
“The lack of available housing really pushed up the cost of things,” said French. “There’s a housing shortage across all resort towns, but in particular for those three-bedroom apartments. It’s really difficult to find housing, and the ones you do find are very expensive.”
Food was the second most expensive item in the budget for Revelstoke at $1,081 per month. Food costs in the province have risen by 16.9 per cent since last year.
Child care also played a major factor in calculating the living wage, as they estimated a budget of $18,000 per year for two young children.
“We’d love to see more support from our provincial government to help with child care,” said Revelstoke Mayor Gary Sulz.
At $25.56/hr, the living wage in Golden is the second highest in the province. In 2021, Living Wage Canada established Golden’s living wage at $19.46/hr.
Some organizations in Golden are working to make sure residents can meet their basic needs.
In May 2022, Kicking Horse Janitorial Ltd became the first company in Golden to become a certified Living Wage Employer, committing to paying its staff and contracted workers a living wage.
The expensive nature of child care in Golden was found to be a unique situation in the province and the main contributing factor for why the living wage in the community was so high.
Since the beginning of the COVID-19 pandemic, Living Wage for Families BC has doubled the number of employers who pay their staff a living wage and they continue to work with employers to lift wages and to certify and promote those who do pay a living wage.
Revelstoke Nordic Ski Club, Hive & Co Cleaning, The Millennial Maids, and The Washateria are Revelstoke businesses that have already signed on to pay living wages through Living Wage for Families BC.
In addition to the moral reasons to pay a living wage to employees, businesses do have an easier time recruiting and retaining staff according to French.
“Some of these businesses, even though they’re paying a living wage, have had to go out and actually purchase a home so they have a place for their staff to live,” said Sulz.
Living Wage for Families BC wants to work with employers to map out how they can reach a point where they’re able to pay a living wage to their employees, even if it’s not immediate.
Daajing Giids had the highest living wage at $25.87 for 2022.
To leanr more about the Living Wage for Families Campaign, visit livingwageforfamilies.ca.
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