What does it take to make the Columbia Valley home?
About 25 local business, government and non profit leaders met for a Living Wage Workshop to understand what it takes for a family of four to earn and cover the costs of living here.
The Workshop, held over lunch at the Lion Halls on Monday March 12th, was the first of it’s kind in B.C.
First, Deanna Ogle, from Living Wage for Families, provided an overview of the methodology from her office in Vancouver.
Then, Ryan Watmough, Columbia Valley Community Economic Development Officer, explained the process in finding the local costs of living here. For a family of four, with two adults both working 35 hours per week, with two children of childcare age, the Columbia Valley living wage works out to $18.25/hour.
In comparison, Cranbrook’s and Golden’s living wages are $14.26 and $20.62 per hour, respectively.
Next, six volunteer facilitators, Kerri Wall, Stephanie Van de Kemp, Pat Cope, Michelle Neider, Laurie Klassen and Carrie Bakos, used laptops to show their small groups how the calculation was arrived at.
The break-out groups were then asked 3 questions:
- Is this calculation accurate?
- What would be the best use of $1,000,000 to reduce the Living Wage in the Columbia Valley?
- What suggestion, rule or policy could have the greatest impact on reducing the Living Wage?
Each group was encouraged to test the cost of living assumptions made and see the resulting change on the overall hourly rate. The participants shared ideas on ways to reduce the costs of living and improve the quality and availability of year-round, full-time employment. But they also realized significant changes to the community economic system are complex and challenging.
Feedback from the participants was positive, as the entire conversation provided a new perspective on life in the Columbia Valley.
The next steps from this meeting are unique to the participants. Some employers may want to commit to a living wage, become a certified Living Wage Employer, because they see that providing a living wage encourages a dedicated, skilled and healthy community.
Local policy makers may look at enhanced collaboration to provide better services or reducing the costs of living for a significant demographic of families in the Columbia Valley.
If you are interested in learning more about the living wage, check out LivingWageForFamilies.ca and LiveColumbiaValley.ca.
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For more information contact:
Ryan Watmough BSc MBA
Columbia Valley Community Economic Development Officer