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Community Social Planning Council

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- 2018 Living Wage for Greater Victoria is $20.50/hour

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2018 Living Wage for Greater Victoria is $20.50/hour


April 25, 2018

The cost of living continued to increase in the Capital Region, despite the introduction of much-needed policies to help families make ends meet.

A report released today finds that the wage needed to cover the costs of raising a family in Greater Victoria increased, to $20.50 per hour. And if it hadn’t been for reductions in Medical Service Plan premiums and child care costs, the increase would have been higher, says the Community Social Planning Council of Greater Victoria, in its 2018 Living Wage report released today.

  • Read the full 2018 Living Wage report here.


What is the Living Wage?

The Living Wage Rate reflects the real costs of living through the hourly wage required to enjoy an adequate quality of life in our region. The Community Social Planning Council of Greater Victoria calculates and releases this number each year, based on the best data available about costs in our region.


Living Wage for Families Campaign

When we look behind the number to see the costs that drive that required wage rate, we have an opportunity to engage our community in dialogue around strategies to prevent and reduce poverty. Our region’s affordability, especially the high costs of housing, childcare, and health care, affects our ability to sustain a healthy and vibrant economy and community.

Working poverty is a Canada-wide issue. 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.

Over 110 companies and organizations across BC, employing more than 18,000 workers and covering many thousands more contracted service workers, have been certified as Living Wage Employers. These include Pacifica Housing, Huu-ay-aht First Nations, Vancity, the United Way of the Lower Mainland, Quesnel, Port Coquitlam and ProActive Hazmat & Environmental. In 2017, the District of Central Saanich adopted a Living Wage policy and is on its way to becoming a certified Living Wage employer – the first municipality in the region to make this commitment. 


Working Together, Let’s Make Life More Affordable in Greater Victoria!

Greater Victoria is becoming a region that is simply unaffordable for families raising children. Our future is not sustainable, so we all need to work together to drive changes that will allow families to thrive, and employers to attract and retain high-quality workers.
Social Planning is the process of understanding community needs and using socioeconomic indicators to support policy decisions that drive community well-being and prosperity. Through tools like the Living Wage, the Community Social Planning Council seeks to engage partners from all sectors to take action to reduce costs of living, increase incomes, and reduce poverty. Here are some of the actions that community partners can take to address affordability:
Public Decision-Makers:
  • Support the development of affordable housing options in neighbourhoods
  • Begin to legalize secondary suites in all municipalities
  • Improve accessibility and reduce costs of child care
  • Explore solutions to reduce costs of transportation
  • Support the implementation of Living Wage policies for your public-sector organization
  • Create more opportunities for local suppliers through procurement practices.
  • Look at wage scales to see how long a person must be employed before earning a wage required for an adequate quality of life. Consider how you can work with employees to sustain higher wages through training, productivity improvements and reductions in turnover.
  • Besides pay increases, look for other ways to improve the quality of life of your lowest wage earners such as flexible work hours, subsidized bus passes, on the job training.
  • Learn more about your staff’s housing and child care challenges and solutions.
  • Demand the same integrity you aspire to from your suppliers and colleagues. Look beyond the lowest financial offer and consider how the firms you deal with treat their employees when awarding contracts.
  • Consider ways you, your business partners, and your employees can work together to reduce costs of living related to child care, housing, food and transportation.
  • Speak out to elected decision-makers and municipal officials in support of the development of affordable housing, transportation and child care options in your community.
  • Consider your wage rates when hiring people for work around your home
  • Shop with locally-owned businesses to promote a healthy local economy

Greater Victoria household expenses up, but living wage for families down.

2019 Living Wage for families: $19.39.

May 1, 2019

(Greater Victoria) Household expenses for raising a family in British Columbia increased again from 2018 to 2019. And if it hadn’t been for government policy - most notably BC’s new Affordable Child Care Benefit - the increase would have been close to ten thousand dollars, says the Community Social Planning Council of Greater Victoria, in its 2019 Living Wage report released today.

However, new government policy initiatives actually reduced the living wage for eligible families. The Affordable Child Care Benefit, the Child Care Fee Reduction Initiative, and cuts to MSP premiums actually outweighed the increased cost of living, and reduced the wage needed to form a living wage. “This demonstrates that good government policy can be an effective tool for reducing poverty,” says Diana Gibson, CSPC Senior Researcher and co-author of the report, “and it shows the great opportunities for making change in other key areas - like housing - that are driving that cost of living.”

A $19.39 hourly wage is needed to cover the costs of raising a family in Greater Victoria, down from $20.50 per hour in 2018. The Living Wage is the hourly wage that two working parents with two young children, aged 4 and 7, must earn to meet their basic expenses (including rent, child care, food, and transportation), once government taxes, credits, deductions and benefits have been taken into account. The family Living Wage for our region is calculated annually by the Community Social Planning Council of Greater Victoria (CSPC).

“A $19.39 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,” said Diana Gibson. “It doesn’t include any savings for vacations, childrens’ education, retirement, caring for elderly parents, or home purchase.”

Housing and child care continue to be the two biggest costs in the living wage calculation. Over the last year, the median rent for a 3+ bedroom unit in Greater Victoria has gone up by $135 per month, more than an 8 per cent increase. In some areas of the region, this increase is much more pronounced. Child care costs are high, but are nearly covered by the federal and BC child-related benefits. .../2

“While the decline in living wage for families this year is welcome, the cost of living is on a long-term upward trend. And the cost of living in the Greater Victoria region is one of the highest in BC,” said Halena Seiferling, Campaign Organizer for the Living Wage for Families Campaign. Living wage reports for several locations in BC also were released today.

Over 140 employers across BC, employing more than 20,000 workers, have been certified as Living Wage Employers. These include the Huu-ay-aht First Nations, Vancity, the United Way of the Lower Mainland, the City of Quesnel, the City of Port Coquitlam, and in Greater Victoria, certified Living Wage Employers include Central Saanich, the City of Victoria, Pacifica Housing, Urban Solar, and Community Plus, the Vancouver and District Labour Council, to name a few.

Working poverty is a Canada-wide issue. Over 50 communities across the country, including 18 in BC, have active living wage campaigns and are advocating to improve quality of life for low-wage workers.

For full report click here

Background: Living Wages across BC

Living wage rates in many across the province are similarly lower this year: Columbia Valley ($15.92), Comox Valley ($15.28), Cranbrook ($14.38), Fraser Valley ($15.54), Greater Trail ($18.83), Greater Vancouver ($19.50), Kamloops ($14.38), Nelson ($18.46), North Central Region ($14.03), Parksville-Qualicum ($15.81) and Revelstoke ($18.90).


Living Wage

Year Calculated

Metro Vancouver



Greater Victoria






Greater Trail






Columbia Valley






Fraser Valley



Comox Valley









North Central Region




Renters speak up about housing insecurity in the Capital region

March 14, 2019

VICTORIA – Survey reveals that Victoria’s tight housing market is meaning renovictions, demovictions, discrimination, living in poor quality housing, and increased vulnerability for renters.

A new study by the Community Social Planning Council of Victoria and the Victoria Tenants Action Group, Can’t Stay and Can’t Go: A participatory action research project on rental housing instability in Greater Victoria, brings forward renter voices about lived experiences in today’s housing crisis. Nearly 500 renters participated in the online survey and in-person roundtables.

The survey reveals critical impacts of lack of affordability and lack of availability on renters, from high levels of discrimination to feeling trapped in poor conditions. Most (92%) of participants reported that high rents were a barrier to finding housing, while 55% cited increasing cost as a threat to remaining in their current home.

Renters consider Greater Victoria to be their home and want to continue living here, but fear that affordability issues will push them out of the region: 77% reported they would stay if they had the choice but 76% said it is somewhat to very likely that housing pressure will force them to leave.

“We called this report Can’t Stay and Can’t Go because of that tension we heard from renters,” states Gavin Torvik of the Victoria Tenant Action Group (VTAG), “the looming risk of being forced out of your home by renoviction or rent increase combined with the real fear of having nowhere to go.

The tight market affects not only renters’ future prospects but the power imbalance with their current landlords: 47% did not ask for repairs out of fear it would negatively impact their tenancy. One participant said that when they told their landlord they needed pest control called, the landlord called an appraiser.

“People feel that even if they have housing, their number will soon be up,” says Cameron Welch of VTAG, “And when it is, being forced out into this housing crisis is like being thrown to the wolves. So they’re stuck, they’re always stressed out, and they’re vulnerable to being exploited.”

Renters lack confidence that the Residential Tenancy Branch will protect them. Although nearly half of participants felt they had been in a living situation in which their rights were violated, only one eighth had chosen to go through dispute resolution. Renters cited impact on life, unpredictability of outcome, uncertainty about the law, and time as reasons for their reluctance.

“The CSPC did this study because the real experiences of renters are lost in policy dialogues, meaning well-intended policies are often misaligned,” says Diana Gibson, Senior Researcher with the Community Social Planning Council. “Anyone engaged in housing policy and planning will want to look at this data.”

The report includes policy priorities indicated by renters and a call for more action by the municipal and provincial governments.

This report was made possible by a grant from the Victoria Foundation.

Click here for full report.