Photo: Stock

Photo: Stock

Minimum wage bump far from living wage in Greater Trail

The minimum wage is rising in B.C. but it is still a long way from being a living wage in Greater Trail.

B.C.’s minimum wage will increase from $15.20 to $15.65 on June 1, becoming one of the highest in Canada. Yet, the cost of living varies in communities throughout the country and it is no different in B.C.

According to Canadian Centre for Policy Alternatives, the living wage indicator is the amount of income needed for a household of two working parents and two children between the ages of four and seven to meet their basic needs. The living wage varies depending on household costs specific to the community, such as the cost of housing.

That difference can be seen in West Kootenay towns such as Trail where the living wage is estimated to be $18.15 per hour, while in Nelson it is as high as $19.56.

As part of the province’s poverty reduction strategy, an increase in minimum wage could lift 20,000 people out of poverty, however, the 2.8 per cent increase is tied to B.C.’s annual inflation rate, so it is unlikely this will reduce the gap between the minimum wage and the 2022 living wage.

When it is calculated, inflation will adversely impact the living wage as well.

The Village of Fruitvale committed to the living wage paradigm in June 2021, and to pay its employees and contractors a minimum of $18.83 per hour according to the amount calculated in 2021.

Fruitvale joins Trail, Rossland, Warfield and Montrose in adopting an official poverty reduction plan and are working together on strategies to help their communities thrive.

Government policies can help address the gap between minimum wage and living wage.

As an example, pilot projects underway throughout the province are testing a $10-a-day childcare program. A living wage report indicates that $10-a-day child care could lower the living wage by nearly $2 per hour.

In the study, Cranbrook had the lowest living wage calculated in 2019 at $14.38 per hour, which has previously been attributed to transportation, childcare, and housing all being considerably more affordable in that community.

Cranbrook did not participate in the 2021 study. Those that did include Columbia Valley $17.18, Golden $19.46, Grand Forks $17.21, and Revelstoke at $19.51.

All living wages calculated in 2021 for Columbia Basin-Boundary communities are higher than the provincial minimum wage in 2021 of $15.20 per hour.

City of TrailMinimum Wage