SIMON NATTRASS: Families unable to make ends meet

Guess what? We’re still poor.

SIMON NATTRASS: Families unable to make ends meet

Guess what? We’re still poor.

Two weeks ago, local researchers at the Community Social Planning Council pegged this year’s living wage at $18.73 per hour, up from $18.07 last year.

The living wage calculation is an estimate of how much each parent in a family of four would have to make in order to live in The Capital without having to choose between paying the bills and buying groceries. $18.73/hr means a combined family income of almost $70,000 per year, a point that half of the region’s two parent families and few of the region’s single parent families have managed to reach.

As usual, the main cause for this year’s increase is the region’s ever-climbing housing prices. While it’s no surprise that families unable to afford a new luxury condo are stuck competing for The Capital’s dwindling rental stock, it’s always useful to remind ourselves who occupies all those new gleaming towers.

This isn’t the first time we’ve heard this news, either. For the past seven years, the CSPC has announced increases to the region’s living wage far outstripping the rate of inflation. In fact, the cost of living in The City of Gardens has increased by almost 20 per cent since 2006, and while each year’s report offers a plethora of options for officials and employers to help alleviate this stress, the numbers seem destined only to rise.

“I think it comes down to political will and the priorities that our decision makers have,” explained researcher Marika Albert when I asked how families all across BC had found themselves unable to make ends meet year after year.

While results may be forever on the horizon, there seems to be no shortage of promises from our region’s political class. According to the CSPC, the second biggest cost to families is childcare, accounting for a staggering 21.5 per cent of monthly expenses. In 2008, I listened to a parade of local pols declare a new era of affordable childcare, a prediction that has since been repeated both by “Families First” BC Liberals and the NDP opposition at least once every few months.

Every year, the Community Social Planning Council reminds those who would represent us in government that the people who make this city function increasingly cannot afford to live in it. Perhaps this year someone will listen. M

Get local stories you won't find anywhere else right to your inbox.
Sign up here

Just Posted

From right: Brad Cameron, BCEHS superintendent of patient care delivery for Greater Victoria, with primary care paramedics Em Funk, Tyrone Trotter, Fiona Galvin and Peter Hill at the Leigh Road station. (Black Press Media file photo)
West Shore paramedics didn’t waver when faced with COVID-19 pandemic

B.C. Emergency Health Services personnel are this year’s Courage and Bravery Award recipients

February is Black History Month. (Photo: Government of Canada)
Camosun College highlighting Black content with research guide during Black History Month

The collection includes a range of works by Black authors and creators

Amy Morrison was surprised to find a note on her windshield for parking on a public street with no restrictions in south Oak Bay where she works. (Amy Morrison Photo)
Oak Bay resident uses notes to claim street parking

‘You must have noticed, we park in front of OUR HOUSE,’ note writer says

Debra Sheets, a University of Victoria nursing professor, is starting Victoria’s first Memory Cafe program for adults with dementia and their caregivers. (Photo: Debra Sheets)
Memory Cafe Victoria hopes to connect local dementia community

Adults with dementia and their caregivers will participate in weekly Zoom socializing and activities

Dr. Bonnie Henry leaves the podium after talking about the next steps in B.C.’s COVID-19 Immunization Plan during a press conference at Legislature in Victoria, B.C., on Friday, January 22, 2021. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Chad Hipolito
COVID: 589 new cases in B.C., and 7 new deaths

No new outbreaks being reported Feb. 26

Staff from the Marine Mammal Rescue Centre, passersby, RCMP and Nanaimo Fire Rescue carried a sick 300-kilogram steller sea lion up the steep bluff at Invermere Beach in north Nanaimo in an attempt to save the animal’s life Thursday. (Photo courtesy Marine Mammal Rescue Centre)
300-kilogram sea lion muscled up from B.C. beach in rescue attempt

Animal dies despite efforts of Nanaimo marine mammal rescue team, emergency personnel and bystanders

Gina Adams as she works on her latest piece titled ‘Undying Love’. (Submitted photo)
‘Toothless’ the kitty inspires B.C. wood carver to break out the chainsaw

Inspired by plight of a toothless cat, Gina Adams offers proceeds from her artwork to help animals

B.C. Finance Minister Selina Robinson presents bill to delay B.C.’s budget as late as April 30, and allow further spending before that, B.C. legislature, Dec. 8, 2020. (Hansard TV)
How big is B.C.’s COVID-19 deficit? We’ll find out April 20

More borrowing expected as pandemic enters second year

The first of 11 Dash 8 Q400 aircraft's have arrived in Abbotsford. Conair Group Inc. will soon transform them into firefighting airtankers. (Submitted)
Abbotsford’s Conair begins airtanker transformation

Aerial firefighting company creating Q400AT airtanker in advance of local forest fire season

The Canada Revenue Agency says there were 32 tax fraud convictions across the country between April 2019 and March 2020. (Pixabay)
Vancouver man sentenced to 29 months, fined $645K for tax evasion, forgery

Michael Sholz reportedly forged documents to support ineligible tax credits linked to homeownership

Then-Liberal leader Andrew Wilkinson looks on as MLA Shirley Bond answers questions during a press conference at Legislature in Victoria. (Chad Hipolito / THE CANADIAN PRESS)
B.C. Liberal party to choose next leader in February 2022

Candidates have until Nov. 30 to declare whether they are running

After nearly 10 months of investigations, Mounties have made an arrest in the tripping of an elderly woman in Burnaby this past April. (RCMP handout)
VIDEO: Mounties charge suspect for tripping elderly woman near Metrotown in April

32-year-old Hayun Song is accused of causing bodily harm to an 84-year-old using her walker

British Columbia provincial health officer Dr. Bonnie Henry arrives to view the Murals of Gratitude exhibition in Vancouver, on Friday, July 3, 2020. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Darryl Dyck
Death threats mount against Dr. Bonnie Henry, sparking condemnation from Horgan, Dix

Henry has become a staple on televisions in homes across British Columbia since January 2020

Most Read