Change in federal policy lowers living wage for first time despite rising costs

April 27, 2016

(Vancouver) A report released today finds that the wage needed to cover the costs of raising a family in Metro Vancouver is $20.64 per hour. This is the 2016 Metro Vancouver living wage, the hourly wage that two working parents with two young children must earn to meet their basic expenses (including rent, child care, food and transportation), once government taxes, credits, deductions and subsidies have been taken into account.

The living wage decreased for the first time in the eight-year history of the living wage campaign, down by 4 cents from the 2015 figure of $20.68/hour. This is according to Working for a Living Wage 2016: Making Paid Work Meet Basic Family Needs in Metro Vancouver, a report published by the Canadian Centre for Policy Alternatives’ BC office, First Call: BC Child and Youth Advocacy Coalition and the Living Wage for Families Campaign. The decrease is entirely due to the expansion of the Canada Child Benefit announced in this year’s federal budget.

Child care and housing are the two biggest costs in the living wage calculation. Child care rose by $32 per month, while rent was up by $75. The overall increase in expenses was 3.1%, much higher than the general inflation rate of 1.2% for Metro Vancouver.

Living wage rates have also decreased in the Capital Regional District ($20.02), District 69 (Parksville-Qualicum) ($16.76), Prince George ($16.52), Kamloops ($17.21) and the Fraser Valley ($16.28) where reports were also released today.

“The decrease in the living wage rates demonstrates that good public policy can have a positive impact on the lives of families,” says Deanna Ogle, the campaign organizer with the Living Wage for Families Campaign. “However, without the provincial government stepping up as an equal partner, we see that federal policies can only help balance out rising costs. BC is the only province in Canada without a poverty reduction plan. Families are counting on the provincial government to do better.”

“A $20.64 hourly living wage may seem high to some but it is based on a bare bones budget for a family of four in our region,” says Iglika Ivanova, CCPA senior economist and co-author of the report. “There’s a big gap between the wages many of our neighbours earn and the real costs of raising a family. About 38% of Metro Vancouver’s two-parent families with two children had incomes less than the living wage in 2013, according to Statistics Canada data from tax files.”

Fifty-seven organizations across BC, employing over 6,500 workers and covering many thousand more contracted service workers, have been certified as Living Wage Employers. These include Huu-ay-aht First Nations, SAP (Vancouver), Vancity, the Canadian Cancer Society – BC and Yukon Division, the City of New Westminster and Ritual restaurant. In 2015, the City of Vancouver committed to begin working towards implementing a living wage policy; they were joined this April by the City of Port Coquitlam.

Working poverty is a Canada-wide issue. Over 50 communities across the country, including 21 in BC, have active living wage campaigns and are advocating to improve quality of life for low-wage workers.


For interviews, contact

  • Deanna Ogle, Campaign Organizer, Living Wage for Families Campaign,
  • Iglika Ivanova, Senior Economist and Public Interest Researcher, Canadian Centre for Policy Alternatives (and co-author of the report), 604-801-5121 x 232
  • Marika Albert, Managing Director, Community Social Planning Council Greater Victoria, (250) 383-6166 x107

Background: Living Wages across BC


Living Wage

Year Calculated










Parksville/Qualicum (District 69)



Prince George



Fraser Valley



Powell River



Clayoquot Sound






Cowichan Region












Regional District of the Central Okanagan






Lower Columbia Region



Port Alberni/Huu-ay-aht First Nation



Cortes Island