‘Living wage’ calculated at $17.27 for the Fraser Valley

Figure based on monthly expenses for a family of four

This chart released by Living Wage Fraser Valley provides its breakdown of the monthly living expenses for a family of four

This chart released by Living Wage Fraser Valley provides its breakdown of the monthly living expenses for a family of four

Each parent in a family of four currently needs to make $17.27 an hour in order to obtain basic needs and “maintain a decent standard of living,” says a local group.

Living Wage Fraser Valley (LWFV), hosted by Vibrant Abbotsford, has calculated the 2015 “living wage” for the area from Abbotsford to Hope/Boston Bar, including Mission.

The figure was released today (Wednesday).

A living wage is calculated based on a budget for a healthy family of four with two children ages four and seven, and each parent working 35 hours a week for 52 weeks a year.

It takes into account basic expenses such as food, housing, childcare, clothing and transportation, after government taxes, credits, deductions and subsidies have been factored in.

The living wage does not consider home ownership, debt, holidays, saving for retirement or a child’s education, or caring for a disabled, ill or elderly family member.

The living wage calculation is broken down as follows: $62,863 in gross income (with each parent making $17.27 an hour) minus $8,348 in the taxes they would pay plus $5,794 in government transfers (Canada child tax benefit, universal child care benefit and BC early childhood tax credit).

This year’s calculation is up 1.5 per cent from the 2014 figure of $17.02.

Vibrant Abbotsford director Alison Homer said childcare, transportation and food were the biggest drivers of the increase, rising by $50, $29 and $24 respectively each month since last year.

Homer said the living wage is released annually to demonstrate how the real costs of living are changing in local communities.

She said this year the trend is continuing that the cost of living is rising faster than inflation.

“It is progressively harder each year for families to make ends meet, with families having to spend $308 more each month than they did three years ago to cover the same expenses,” Homer said.

She said the calculation emphasizes the need for businesses, policy makers and citizens to work together to ensure communities are affordable places for all residents.

Homer said this year’s report highlights the need for government policies that benefit lower income families. For example, she said this year’s expanded universal childcare benefit brings down the living wage by only 16 cents, whereas the proposed $10-a-day childcare plan would reduce it by $3.33.

Homer said the living wage is based on the premise that people who work full-time should never have to live in poverty.

The Valley currently has two living wage employers – Vancity and Mission Community Skills Centre – and more are encouraged to take part. Those interested can become certified through a program offered by Living Wage Fraser Valley.

The organization hosts an information table at Vancity’s Abbotsford branch (32675 South Fraser Way) on Wednesday, April 29 from 10 a.m. to 5 p.m.

For more information about the living wage, visit vibrantabbotsford.ca/livingwage.

Monthly living wage budget for a family of four in the Fraser Valley

Total monthly expenses of $5,024 are broken down as follows:

• $1,184.48 for childcare

• $1,088,26 for shelter

• $766.60 for food

• $721.70 for other household expenses (personal care, furniture, school supplies and minimal recreation)

• $474.74 for transportation

• $201.48 for two weeks’ pay (to cover emergency sickness)

• $190.57 for clothing and footwear

• $144 for government medical services plan

• $139 for private medical insurance premiums

• $112.96 for parent education (two local college courses per year)

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