Gap between living wage, actual wages must shrink

Two & Out
By James Peters
April 29, 2016 - 5:11pm Updated: April 29, 2016 - 6:16pm

KAMLOOPS — According to a new report from the Canadian Centre for Policy Alternatives, the 2016 living wage for Kamloops is $17.21 per hour.

That's the minimum two working parents would need to earn in order to pay their basic expenses.

That number is actually down from last year, which is curious, considering the cost of absolutely everything is on the increase.

Try to think of something that's trending cheaper.

Even CDs, which only stubborn anachronists like me buy anymore, are just as expensive as they ever were.

That $17 living wage can be shaded down a little bit when you consider the number of people, whether they should or not, who accept maintaining some level of debt in their lives.

Breaking even isn't always absolutely necessary to continue living.

But the disparity between the $17 living wage and the $10.45 minimum wage is pretty stark.

It's even more stark when you consider Kamloops is a much more affordable place to live than the Lower Mainland, where the living wage is significantly higher.

Raising the minimum wage then becomes a bit more of a no-brainer.

But dropping some of those expenses would work to decrease the gap as well.

The most egregious of them, even more egregious than the ridiculous cost of housing?

Child care.

It's one thing that child care rates themselves are so astronomical.

Many families find themselves in situations where they don't require child care every day, but need to know it's there for them when they need it.

Thus, they find themselves paying full time for a child care spot, when they only use it on a part time basis.

Setting up a more robust child care system that addresses this issue would drop expenses for a lot of parents significantly.

Closing the gap between the living wage and what people are actually making should be a priority of both provincial parties heading into an election cycle before we know it.