Greater Victoria’s living wage has increased again this year. A new report says just over $25.40 an hour is what you have to be making in the capital region to meet your very basic expenses and needs.
“This is considered to be a representative of a livable wage for all household types,” said Diana Gibson with the Community Social Planning Council of Greater Victoria. “Certainly, we saw food go up, and we also saw the biggest driver was shelter costs.”
Those who are struggling financially are continually growing, from families and seniors to young adults.
“I get just under $2,000 a month and I’m paying $1,300 in rent,” said 22-year-old Taylor Faryon.
Faryon is paying far more than 30 percent of her net income on rent. Every month she’s forced to make the tough decision between paying bills and getting groceries.
Unsurprisingly, she’s not the only one.
“A senior who had to make a choice around buying food, so she would [buy] a package of crackers and eat that every day for the month. It was that or live on the streets,” said Erika Stenson, executive director of United Way Southern Vancouver Island.
“We don’t want anyone in our community living like that,” she said.
The rising rent and inflationary pressures aren’t just squeezing workers, but employers as well.
“It’s a lot of making sure we’re applying for as many grants as we can, it’s launching new revenue development projects, expanding our fundraising outreach,” said Ryan Hunt, with the BC Museums Association, a living wage employer.
But paying a living wage is only part of the solution. Those at the Community Social Planning Council of Greater Victoria say a critical component should also be government help.
“Federal government interventions, provincial government interventions, are a key part of the cost of living in our region, and so this is really a conversation starter and meant to help bring policymakers to the table to talk about the cost of living,” said Gibson.
For people like Faryon, those solutions can’t come quickly enough.
“The cost of living is going up extremely and what we’re being paid doesn’t feel like it’s going up at all,” said Faryon.