This year's Family Day Factsheet highlights inflation pressures, cost of living, and housing as top issues.
Family Day is a day that allows us to be together, celebrate one another and embrace all that is good about those who enrich our lives. But, did you know that 1 in 15 families living in the Greater Victoria Region are living in low-income?
As part of the Happiness and Wellbeing Lab project, the United Way Southern Vancouver Island and Community Social Planning Council release an annual family day fact sheet. The fact sheet shows that even though we may all be in the same storm, we are not all in the same boat. As we look back on this year's Family Day, let's make sure that no family gets left behind.
This year’s factsheet drives home the fact that families are struggling with inflation and the high cost of living. This is causing a reliance on free food programs and increased challenges as pandemic-era funding ends and daily necessities become more expensive. In fact, between September and December 2022, demand for the food bank increased by 20%. Housing prices are squeezing families as well, with median house prices ranging from just over $850,000 in Sooke to over $1.7 million in Oak Bay. While house prices are deeply unaffordable, so is renting. Over 40% of renters in the region are in “core housing need”, a definition given to households that are spending over 30% of their income on housing.
We've seen key shifts in data in this year's fact sheet which are most likely attributable to pandemic supports that we're offered to families during COVID. These helped to lift families out of poverty but are being phased out as we enter a post-pandemic environment. With these programs coming to an end, we are seeing poverty rates jump for families, this is highlighted in the increased demand for food banks and rent bank services.
With this data available and accessible for all, we have to ask the question, what can be done to support families during this unprecedented time?
One way the government could support families is by implementing a living wage. While BC’s $15.65/hr minimum wage is the second highest in the country, it is still a far cry from the living wage of $24.29, which was recently calculated by the Happiness and Wellbeing Lab. The living wage saw a record-breaking 20% increase in 2022, which shows how much core necessities are costing families. The gap between income and expenses can be closed in one of two ways, either by reducing the cost of living or increasing wages.
The cost of living was lowered in the past through investments in child care. This helped to drop the living wage in 2019, showing that government action on the cost of living can help reduce poverty. While child care is still a substantial cost for families, more needs to be done on housing and food affordability to ensure that no family gets left behind.
No Family Left Behind is the most recent iteration in a series of fact sheets using data from the UWSVI and CSPC collaboration Happiness and Wellbeing Community Lab. The fact sheet can be downloaded here.
Published: February 21, 2023
Colton Whittaker, Communications Coordinator