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Victoria tops Vancouver as most expensive city in B.C., says living wage report

Victoria has surpassed Vancouver as British Columbia's most expensive city, according to the latest calculation of living wages in the province.

The annual report, published by the non-profit Living Wage for Families BC and the Community Social Planning Council, says the living wage in Greater Victoria leapt by 20 per cent in 2022.

A minimum hourly wage of $24.29 is now the required income of two working parents with two children, ages four and seven, in order to meet the basic expenses of rent, food, child care and transportation after taxes, benefits and deductions are taken into account, according to the report.

That amounts to an annual increase in household expenses of $10,231 in 2022, meaning two full-time workers with two children must earn at least a combined $91,097 to cover basic expenses.

In Metro Vancouver, the living wage is now $24.08, while in Nanaimo it is $20.49 and in the Cowichan Valley it is $23.53, according to the study.

In 2021, the minimum hourly wage for two working parents to meet the living wage criteria in Greater Victoria was $20.46.

"It is clear that both businesses and workers in the region are feeling the squeeze as they try to recover from the pandemic and both are looking to the province for more action on cost drivers," Diana Gibson, executive director of the Community Social Planning Council, said in a release Thursday.

The largest share of the annual increase is due to the rising cost of housing, food and other household goods. Food costs increased 25.7 per cent in 2022, while other household expenses rose 22 per cent, largely due to rising inflation, according to the study.

"Many low-wage workers put in long hours at multiple jobs, and yet are still forced to choose between paying rent or purchasing groceries," said Pamela Charron, interim executive director of the non-profit Worker Solidarity Network.

"A wage should not only allow workers to survive, a wage should allow workers to live – this means having time to spend with one’s friends and family, enjoy cultural activities, and taking care of one’s health," she added.

According to the study authors, the required living wage in B.C. actually went down between 2018 and 2019, partially due to the province's Affordable Child Care Benefit.

Chelsea Power, a research coordinator with the Community Social Planning Council, says the temporary drop shows that "good government policy can be an effective tool for reducing poverty and it shows the need for making change in key areas – like housing – that are driving that cost of living." Top Stories

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