A more comprehensive approach is needed to help the working poor and families, says Victoria MP Murray Rankin.
Speaking on the release of a new report on Victoria’s living wage, Rankin said new federal policies are needed, including a national universal child care program.
The report says that a Victoria couple raising two children in the city must both work full-time earning $20.05 an hour each to make ends meet.
The study, released last week, updates a 2014 calculation that placed the city’s living wage at $18.93, the hourly sum needed to meet local living expenses.
“A $20.05 hourly living wage rate may seem high to some, but it is important to remember that this wage rate reflects the real cost of living for families,” said the report’s author, Marika Albert.
According to the non-partisan Community Social Planning Council, increases in rent, child care, food and transportation in Victoria have made it harder for working adults to support their families.
Several reports in the last year have brought the unaffordability of living in the city to the forefront.
Rankin, who is the federal NDP’s health critic, said the reports reflect a failure of public policy to ensure affordability and a decent quality of life for all families in the region.
“Everyone of these reports brings to light the unaffordability issue, and we have to step up and do something about it,” Rankin said.
He suggests a four-prong approach dealing with wages, child care, housing and transportation.
“The reality is more complicated than just numbers around a salary,” he said. “If you can’t afford transit, you can’t afford housing, you can’t afford health care and it goes on from there.”
Breaking down the numbers, the report dubs child care at $1,256 a month, or $15,000 a year. Under the NDP child care plan, for example, the family would pay just $660 month.
Rankin said that is just one solution, but there are many more, but the questions just need to be asked.
“You have to look at these problems in a global way. You have to talk about the cost of living in a number of different ways,” he said.
“If we can just make it more affordable by dealing with these things than just going to a wage response would be necessary.
One in five children in B.C. is poor, and B.C. is the last province in Canada without a poverty reduction strategy, said Albert.
Living wage rates have also risen faster than inflation for the Fraser Valley and for Metro Vancouver, to $17.27 and $20.68 respectively.