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Vancouver: What Does $14.16 Per Hour Buy a Household in Cranbrook?
BC Local News

February 9, 2011
View the Original Article

This is the question people are beginning to ask in our city. The conversation started with a delegation to council by the Cranbrook Social Planning Committee and is quickly gaining momentum with businesses, organizations and citizens alike.

With the experience of several other jurisdictions such as New Westminster, Vancouver, Victoria and the United Kingdom leading the way, and the assistance of Timothy Richards from the University of Victoria to help calculate a living wage for Cranbrook, the committee is hoping to better understand the financial dynamics and lived experiences of people living on a low wage.

A living wage is an hourly rate that reflects what people need to meet their basic expenses and support their families based on the actual costs of living in a specific community. It is important to note it is not the minimum wage, which is the legislated minimum set by the provincial government.

A community’s living wage is calculated by looking at the local expenses of a given community plus government transfers minus deductions. In Cranbrook this calculation adds up to $14.16 an hour and is based on two full-time employed parents, two children (ages four and seven). It is a conservative, bare bones budget without any extras, such as: contributing to savings (RRSP, Registered Education Savings Plans, etc.) annual vacations, travel, emergency funds or home ownership.

A community’s living wage figure is useful, but often it is the conversations that flow out of the calculation that is of greater value. “It’s a conversation about what assets a community can activate to help families out of severe financial stress by providing a basic level of economic security” says Living Wage Coordinator, Theresa Bartraw.

“The interest the community has taken in the Living Wage concept is encouraging, but not surprising” says Social Planning Council Member, Gary Dalton, “considering the existing momentum of programs and initiatives like, Cranbrook Connected, the Recreation Access Pass, the Cranbrook Food Action Committee and our community’s Safe Community Designation”.

A stakeholder consultation will be held on Monday, February 14 from 10 am – 1 pm at Kootenay Christian Fellowship. For more information and to pre-register contact livingwagecranbrook@gmail.com.