Sunday, April 14, 2024
April 14, 2024

Analysis: living costs on Salt Spring higher than Victoria, Metro Vancouver

The Salt Spring Island Foundation (SSIF) has released its report for 2022 analyzing living expenses, and working backwards has reached a number estimating a “living wage” for Salt Spring at an hourly amount of $24.36.   

That number is based on a hypothetical family of four — two parents, a four-year-old and a seven-year-old child — with both adults working full-time at 35 hours per week. Estimating expenses with these assumptions allows an apples-to-apples comparison with other municipalities. For example, a living wage in Metro Vancouver for this family would be $24.08, and in Greater Victoria $24.29.  

The basic expenses in SSIF’s analysis include a budget for food, clothing, rent, childcare, transportation and a small amount set aside for savings to cover illness or emergencies. The analysis also includes a modest amount for telecommunications — two cell-phone plans — and continuing education for the parents, the median cost of two online courses at Camosun College.  

The report notes that “Earning the living wage does not enable a family to put away savings for retirement or a down payment for secure housing, to make a student loan or other debt payments, or to save for their children’s education.” 

B.C.’s minimum wage currently sits at $15.65. In 2018, the last time the living wage number was calculated for Salt Spring, minimum wage was $12.65 and the living wage figure was $20.95.  

That represents an increase for both — the living wage has increased 15.1 per cent, and the minimum wage has increased 23.7 per cent — but also illustrates a gap that suggests affordability remains elusive for wage workers.  

“The high living wage rates highlight the need to simultaneously lift wages and lower the cost of living,” according to SSIF, “particularly the cost of housing.”  

The report concludes that, given a lack of “affordable and available” housing on-island, the cost of rent is likely to continue at a rate unaffordable to workers.  

Data was gathered from a number of government sources, as well as the foundation’s own Vital Signs survey done last year. 

The full report is available at the library, or can be accessed online at: ssifoundation.ca/livingwage2022

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