Would you be surprised to know that it now costs more for a family to live on Salt Spring than in Metro Vancouver? This is the bottom line of a new report just released by the Salt Spring Island Foundation. A Living Wage for Salt Spring Island, 2018, calculates the living wage required for a Salt Spring family to meet basic expenses.
For a Salt Spring family of four, each parent working full-time needs to earn $20.95 an hour to pay for necessities, support healthy childhood development and escape financial hardship. That’s an annual family income of $72,503.19 ($36,251.60 per parent). This is higher than the 2018 living wage of $20.91 in Metro Vancouver and $20.50 in Victoria. The Cowichan region is somewhat less at $19.05, while the 2018 living wage for the Comox Valley is $16.59.
In the fall of 2017, the Salt Spring Island Foundation released its first VitalSigns® report, which examined community vitality in 12 areas of special interest, including arts and culture, health and wellness, housing, the environment, seniors, work and the economy and more. The Living Wage report supplements the up-to-date local information and knowledge shared in Vital Signs.
Foundation Board Chair Kees Ruurs says, “The Living Wage report is a logical follow-up to the work we did in our Vital Signs report. It adds important information to help islanders become more aware of the economic challenges faced by local families and allows us to see where we stand in relation to other BC communities.”
The living wage differs from the minimum wage. According to Living Wage Canada, a website providing national information about the living wage, the minimum wage “is the legal minimum all employers must pay. The living wage sets a higher test—a living wage reflects what earners in a family need to bring home, based on the actual costs of living in a specific community.”
Ensuring that a family has the means to provide adequate housing, transportation, childcare and other essentials has positive impacts on children, parents and employers.
As shown by the 2017 Vital Signs report, Salt Spring Island is rich in arts and culture and outdoor and recreational opportunities. The community is tightly knit and characterized by high rates of engagement through volunteerism, interest in local issues and charitable giving. At the same time, Salt Spring Island residents—particularly those with young families—may face cost of living challenges due to the rural nature and location of the island, the dependence of the island on tourism, and the need to work two or more part-time jobs to make ends meet.
Many islanders soon will be receiving a two-page summary of the Living Wage report in their mailboxes along with the Foundation’s 2017 annual report. Copies of the summary are available at the Foundation office at 158A Fulford Ganges Road, while the summary and full eight-page report are readable below.
Salt Spring Island Foundation – 2018 Living Wage Report – One Page Final
Salt Spring Island Foundation – 2018 Living Wage Report – Full Final