Improved federal child benefit payments have reduced the cost of raising a family in the Fraser Valley, according to a report released Thursday that puts the amount required to cover the “bare-bones” expenses of a family of four at $16.28 per hour.
It was a drop of 99 cents from the “living wage” of the year before, according to the report published by Living Wage Fraser Valley and Vibrant Abbotsford, and it represented the first drop in the five years since the estimates started being produced.
The improvement was entirely due to the expansion of the Canada Child Benefit announced in this year’s federal budget, said Shakira Miracle, Vibrant Abbotsford coordinator.
“We see this as a great victory,” Miracle said.
“We’re hoping the provincial government will pivot to work with the federal government (to adjust policies).
The living wage is calculated based on a bare bones budget for a healthy family of four with two children aged four and seven and both parents working full-time.
In the Fraser Valley, the hourly rate works out to an annual salary of $60,285 (accounting for government taxes and transfers).
At B.C.’s minimum wage of $10.45, the same family would earn $38,038.
The increase in child benefits was enough to even out a hike in food costs that rose an estimated 2.7 per cent.
“The decrease in the living wage rates demonstrates that good public policy can have a positive impact on the lives of families,” said Deanna Ogle, with the Living Wage for Families in Metro Vancouver.
“However, without the provincial government stepping up as an equal partner, we see that federal policies can only help balance out rising costs. BC is the only province in Canada without a poverty reduction plan. Families are counting on the provincial government to do better.”
Using the living wage as a measure, 15 per cent of people in the Fraser Valley including 11,175 children under 18 years, live in poverty.
Vibrant Abbotsford is hosting an information table at Vancity’s Abbotsford branch (32675 South Fraser Way) on Friday, April 29, from 9:30 a.m. to 5 p.m.
Vancity was certified in 2013 as the Fraser Valley’s first Living Wage employer.