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Lower Sunshine Coast's living wage hits $25.61

Fifth highest calculated cost of living in B.C.
Person putting food in a basket

Cost of living continues to soar on the Sunshine Coast – but its rise has slowed.

The just-released living wage estimate for the lower Sunshine Coast in 2023 is $25.61 per hour – 5.4 per cent higher than it was in 2022.

This follows an astronomical 22.8 per cent increase in the living wage calculation for the Sunshine Coast between 2021 and 2022. The 2021 calculation was $19.79 per hour and the 2022 calculation was $24.30 per hour.

The Canadian Centre for Policy Alternatives BC Office (CCPA-BC) and Living Wage for Families BC dropped its Metro Vancouver living wage update report on Nov. 8, with the Sunshine Coast Foundation concurrently releasing a localised assessment.

The living wage is based on two parents working full time to support the basic needs of a family of four in a community with what the regional report describes as a “conservative, bare bones budget” for a “decent if still very modest standard of living.”

The calculation takes into account housing, food, child care, transportation, health care, phone and internet, clothing, education and contingency. It does not take into account debt payments, retirement saving, education saving, home ownership, caring for an ill or injured family member or an emergency cushion.

“Although inflation has dropped from last year’s historic highs, the cost of living across BC continues to increase rapidly,” Sunshine Coast Foundation executive director Erin Storey said in the news release. 

“Every day, we can plainly see how life on the Coast is increasingly expensive, and we know that more and more families are turning to local charities to meet their essential needs.

“In turn, these organizations struggle to sustain the increase in demand for their services.”

The top costs for families are shelter, food and child care. While there have been significant government benefits and public investments, “the savings are entirely consumed by soar­ing prices, especially for food and shelter, which are rising much faster than general inflation,” says the regional report.

Increased government supports in child care saw more than $660 in monthly savings calculated for Sunshine Coast families this year. But, community, shelter and telecommunications communications costs added $567 to monthly family budgets (up 24 per cent) and food added $76 per month (up six per cent).

The regional report says that still rising rents are putting “enormous pressure” on budgets. “No government efforts to address the high cost of living can succeed without moving the dial on housing affordability,” it said, adding that the housing strategies tabled so far are “an order of magnitude less ambitious than what is required.”

The report also points out a growing discrepancy between the $16.75 per hour minimum wage in B.C. (which rose by a dollar earlier this year) and living wage.

“BC’s low-wage workers need a raise, but the labour market alone can’t resolve all economic insecurities,” said CCPA-BC senior economist Iglika Ivanova in the local release. “Governments can and should do more to address the cost-of-living crisis that people are facing across the province.”

There are 12 certified living wage employers on the Coast and nearly 400 in B.C., according to the foundation.

By the numbers:

The Coast’s 2023 living wage is the fifth highest of the 19 B.C. communities that participated in this year’s initiative.

The highest living wage in B.C. went to Clayoquot Sound at $26.51 per hour, followed by Daajing Giids in Haida Gwaii, $26.25; Golden, $25.78 and Metro Vancouver, $25.68. The lowest calculated living wage was $20.64 per hour, for Dawson Creek. Powell River’s living wage was calculated at $25.06.

Last year, the Coast’s living wage was the third highest calculated in B.C.

– With files from
Keili Bartlett