Rising costs placing a burden on families

With food, transportation and housing costs rising, sticking to the family budget is become increasingly more difficult in B.C.

With food, transportation and housing costs rising, sticking to the family budget is become increasingly more difficult in B.C.

According to the Canadian Centre for Policy Alternatives, it takes two parents earning $19.62 an hour — each — to support a family of four.

The annual recalculation of the so-called “living wage” found the hourly rate necessary to cover rent, child care, food and transportation (after government taxes and levies) jumped 48 cents from $19.14 last year — that’s the equivalent of 2.5 per cent, or nearly double the rate of inflation.

We all know that housing costs are to blame for some of this burden, but the CCPA study found that rising child care costs, food prices and a four per cent jump in Medical Services Plan premiums were also to blame.

The problem is, many working parents don’t even make that “living wage” and are getting by on the minimum wage of $10.25.

How are families coping? Studies have shown there are increasing numbers of families in “core need,” meaning that their housing costs are so high and their incomes so low that they are at constant risk of homelessness. More people are also using the food bank.

Other families, whose wages are more in keeping with the limit suggested by CCPA, are making some difficult choices to stretch their dollars. They have given up on the idea of a second car, for example, or the dream of an at-home parent and are turning to creative housing choices. More and more families are living in condominiums and basement suites, and those who can afford to own a single-family home are renting out the basement.

Meanwhile, per capita debt, although stabilizing, is still high, suggesting that the Canadian dream, while not dead, is becoming increasingly expensive to maintain.

— Black Press