Region’s living wage now known

Minimum hourly earning needed to live in Vanderhoof, Fort St. James, and Quesnel is calculated for the first time.

Integris’ Cori Ramsay

Vivian Chui

Omineca Express

 

We now know how much a family needs to earn per hour to cover basic expenses in Vanderhoof and surrounding communities, according to a local credit union.

Calculated for the first time in north central B.C. by Integris Credit Union based on the Living Wage for Families Campaign’s equations, the area’s living wage — the hourly amount that covers basic living costs such as food, clothing, shelter, and transportation — in 2015 is $16.82/hour.

“It’s a scenario that tries to encompass as much as possible,” said Cori Ramsay, the project’s spearhead.

The equation includes food data from B.C.’s dietitians, the region’s rent and transportation costs according to Canadian government data, as well as daycare costs and post-secondary education for families with children.

Originally calculated for Prince George, the amount can be applied to Fort St. James, Vanderhoof, and Quesnel, Ramsay noted, upon consultation with the Living Wage for Families Campaign staff.

“A lot of smaller communities are having trouble doing these equations, just because there’s not enough data,” she said. “For example, the CMHC might not do housing assessment for Vanderhoof.”

Despite the lack of specific data for certain communities, the figure would not be far off, Ramsay said.

“Like the costs of transportation, you don’t have public transportation, you might be paying a bit more, but the rent might be a bit less,” she said.

But do we make enough from our work to live here?

“In terms of job openings from last year, about a quarter of job vacancies are under that level,” said Robin Work, general manager of Work BC’s branch in Vanderhoof.

However, Work added, wage has been increasing with the cost of living in the area.

“Out of all job postings, only 5% are offering minimum wage,” said Work. “The vast majority of employers would have no trouble being certified.”

Though Integris is the first certified Living Wage Employer in the area, most businesses are likely already paying a living wage to their employee, taking into consideration work benefits packages, said Alex Castley, Integris’ manager of talent acquisition and development.

“A lot of people we’ve talked to said no way, but the calculation involved wage and benefits,” Castley said. “It’s more in reach than it might appear first hand.”