BC’s childcare investments have major impact on 2019 living wage:  Dramatically lower out-of-pocket childcare costs offset increases in other family expenses


Living wage calculations for communities across BC decreased this year, according to a new report released May 1, 2019 from the Living Wage for Families Campaign. Even though costs are increasing steeply for rent and other basic necessities, the cost of living for families with children has increased only slightly in Nelson thanks to the provincial government’s new childcare policies.

The living wage is the hourly amount that each of two working parents with two young children must earn to meet their basic expenses (including rent, childcare, food and transportation) once government taxes, credits, deductions and subsidies have been taken into account.

The 2019 living wage for Nelson is $18.46 per hour, up slightly from $18.21 in 2017 (the last time the rate was calculated in Nelson).

About 30 per cent of Metro Vancouver two-parent families with two children had incomes below the 2019 living wage according to the most recent Statistics Canada data available.

Without BC’s new childcare investments, the living wage amounts would have increased considerably. For example, two parents with two children in Nelson would have had to each earn $21.18 per hour in 2019 to cover their basic expenses, or $2.72 more per hour than with the affordable childcare benefit.

“The living wage calculation shows the connection between wages and government policy in shaping our standard of living,” says Iglika Ivanova, CCPA-BC senior economist and report co-author. “Public investments in child care affordability are helping families with young children weather large increases in the cost of rent and other basic necessities in 2019, and lower the hourly wage they need to earn to meet core budgetary needs.”

Shelter continues to be the most expensive item in the living wage budget and the fastest growing in many communities.  Due to the ongoing housing shortage in Nelson, rents remain high.  According to the CMHC Housing Market Information Portal, the vacancy rate in rentals remains at 0%; further there are so few 3-bedroom apartments on the rental market that they cannot list a market rate for them. It is estimated that the average monthly cost of a 3-bedroom apartment in Nelson is about $1500.

“The BC government’s child care investments are a major win for families with children,” says Halena Seiferling, Living Wage for Families Campaign Organizer, “and we are also pleased to see the government’s new employment standards legislation which will provide workers and their families with greater economic security. However, without sustained public investment in key family expense areas—especially housing— the living wage decline we see this year will be short-lived and families will continue to struggle.”

“We call on the provincial government to take similar bold measures in other policy areas, especially on the high and rapidly growing cost of rent. Maximum rent increases should be tied to the unit rather than to the tenant to protect housing affordability, and existing affordable housing stock must be protected.”

Living wage rates in many communities 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 Victoria ($19.39), Kamloops ($14.38), North Central Region ($14.03), Parksville-Qualicum ($15.81) and Revelstoke ($18.90).

Over 140 companies and organizations in 18 BC communities—employing more than 20,000 workers and covering many thousands more contracted service workers—have been certified as Living Wage Employers over the past ten years. These include the District of Central Saanich, SAP Vancouver, the John Howard Society of the Central and South Okanagan, Integris Credit Union, Modo Cooperative and the City of Vancouver. Eight local governments and one school district have passed living wage policies.

The living wage cost is calculated annually in Working for a Living Wage: Making Paid Work Meet Basic Family Needs in Metro Vancouver, a report published by the Canadian Centre for Policy Alternatives’ BC office, First Call: BC Child and Youth Advocacy Coalition, and the Living Wage for Families Campaign.

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



  • Halena Seiferling, Campaign Organizer, Living Wage for Families Campaign,
  • Iglika Ivanova, Senior Economist and Public Interest Researcher, Canadian Centre for Policy Alternatives (and co-author of the report), 604-801-5121 x 232.
  • Laura Lundie, End Poverty Initiative Project Manager, Nelson at its Best, bestofnelson@hotmail.com .


Living Wages across BC

Community Living Wage Year Calculated
Metro Vancouver $19.50 2019
Greater Victoria $19.39 2019
Revelstoke $18.90 2019
Greater Trail $18.83 2019
Nelson $18.46 2019
Columbia Valley $15.92 2019
Parksville-Qualicum $15.81 2019
Fraser Valley $15.54 2019
Comox Valley $15.28 2019
Cranbrook $14.38 2019
Kamloops $14.38 2019
North Central Region $14.03 2019