Revelstoke’s living wage increases for 2018, remains fourth highest in BC

A couple family with two children now needs to earn a minimum of $70,000 annually to meet basic necessities.

The Oscar Street town homes are some of Revelstoke's only current affordable housing. Photo: Aaron Orlando/Revelstoke Mountaineer

Revelstoke’s living wage has increased for 2018, jumping to $19.37 per hour. That’s up 60 cents compared to last 2017 when the living wage calculation came out at $18.77 per hour.

The Living Wage for Families Campaign released its 2018 report on living wages today, Wednesday, April 25.  Based on that report Revelstoke’s living wage remains as the fourth highest in the province. The report states the cost of raising a family in B.C. saw a slight increase from 2017 to 2018. The increase could have been higher if it wasn’t for reductions in Medical Service Plan premiums and child care costs, said the report.

In Revelstoke, the annual living wage calculation is an initiative of the Revelstoke Poverty Reduction Working Group (PRWG). Jill Zacharias, social development coordinator, said the increase in living wages is because the group used a more realistic assessment of housing costs. Based on this year’s calculation, a family of four with two working parents needs a household income of at least $70,000 a year to make ends meet.

“Again, this is a very modest assessment that does not include savings for emergencies, retirement or the children’s education,” said Zacharias.

While couple families are the demographic least likely to experience poverty in Revelstoke, Zacharias said the most recent tax-filer data available from 2015 shows 19 per cent of two parent families with two children were making less than $70,000 per year. An additional 14 per cent of two parent families with more than two children were making less than $70,000 per year.

“The fact that we have fairly low income disparity in our community is indicative of our economic diversification,” said Zacharias.

The yearly living wage calculation is done as a means to measure the realities of affordability and the cost of living in Revelstoke. Zacharias said the main value is to provide a true sense of the cost of living in Revelstoke so that economic and social development strategies can be tailored accordingly.

“From a social development perspective, we understand that when people are struggling to make ends meet or having to work more than one job to get by, it is very difficult for them to participate in fully in both family and community life. It’s all about the overall health and well-being of our community and ensuring that both individuals and the community as a whole are thriving,” she said.